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Title: History of Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture
Author: Memes, John Smith
Language: English
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                            THE FINE ARTS.



                         SCULPTURE, PAINTING,



                        BY J. S. MEMES, LL. D.

                          CLAPP AND BROADERS,
                             SCHOOL STREET


                           THE VERY REVEREND

                          WILLIAM JACK, D.D.

                      IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF


                       OF MOST PROFOUND RESPECT
                                FOR HIS
                             THIS VOLUME,
                             IS INSCRIBED
                              THE AUTHOR.



    Taste--Principles of Imitative Art                                1



    Egyptian and Oriental Sculpture--Indian Monuments                 15


    Early Schools of Greece--Perfection of Material Art               34


    Ideal Art--Phidias--Elgin Marbles--Methods of Composition
    Among the Greek Sculptors                                         49


    School of Beauty--Lysippus and Praxiteles--Historical
    Remarks                                                           60


    Sculpture in Ancient Italy--Etruscan Art--Roman Busts--Decline    69


    Revival of Sculpture in Italy--Italian Republics--Influence
    of Liberty--Early Schools of Modern Art                           79


    Michael Angelo and his Contemporaries                             84


    School of Bernini--Decline of Sculpture--Causes of Decay          94


    Revival--Canova--Thorwaldsen--Flaxman--Conclusion                101



    Ancient Painting--Schools of Greece--Zeuxis, Appelles
    --Historical Remarks                                             117


    Modern Schools in Italy--Roman, Raphael--Florentine,
    Michael Angelo--Comparison between the two--Lombard
    School, Coreggio--Venetian School, Titian--Eclectic
    School, Caracci                                                  130


    German School, Holbein, Daur--Flemish School, Rubens,
    Vandyke--Dutch School, Teniers--French School,
    David--Anecdote of Napoleon                                      154


    English School--Historical Remarks--Causes of Inferiority
    in the Art--Influence of the Reformation not Hostile to
    the Fine Arts in Britain, &c.                                    174


    English School continued--History--Portrait--Landscape
    --Reynolds--West--Wilson--Laurence--Defects of
    English Style--Conclusion                                        190



    Early History and Principles of Architectural Design--Egyptian
    --Syrian--Indian Architecture                                    227


    Greek Architecture--Three Orders: Doric Remains, Ionic
    Remains, Corinthian Remains--Roman Architecture--Decline         248


    Architecture of the Middle Ages--Divisions of the Gothic--Revival
    of Classic Architecture--Italian, French, and
    English Masters--Conclusion                                      278


THE present volume is offered to the public, under the impression that
the general cultivation of practical taste, and an acquaintance with
the principles of the Fine Arts, are not only desirable in the light of
acquirement, but must eventually prove highly beneficial to the useful
arts of the country. The subject, therefore, seemed peculiarly adapted
to the very excellent Publication of which this forms a portion.[A]

       *       *       *       *       *

It is only bespeaking that share of confidence due, in the first
instance, to opportunities of research, to state, that in the following
pages not a single work of art is made the subject of criticism, the
original of which the author has not seen and examined. Indeed, the
substance of his remarks is generally transcribed from notes taken with
the statue, or picture, or building, before him. The best authorities,
also, have been consulted, and such as from their price or rarity are
within reach of few readers. The historical details of Classic Art
are chiefly the result of inquiries connected with a work on Grecian
Literature, the composition of which has long engaged his hours of
leisure. J. S. M.


TASTE is the perception of intellectual pleasure. Beauty, the object
of taste and the source of this pleasure, is appreciated by the
understanding, exercised, either upon the productions of art, or
upon the works of nature. The term beauty, indeed, has appeared to
admit a specific difference of import, according to the diversity of
objects in which it may seem to reside, and the supposed variety of
means through which it is perceived by the mind. This cause, more than
any other, has tended to throw difficulty and inconclusive inference
over every department of the subject. Yet, perhaps in all cases, most
certainly in every instance of practical importance to our present
purpose--elucidation of the Fine Arts, beauty will be found resolvable
into some relation discerned and approved by the understanding. Hence
the objects in which this relation exists impart pleasure to the mind,
on the well known principles of its constitution.

But in all languages, the word beauty is applied to the results of
those operations of the intellectual powers, which are not commonly
recognised as appertaining to any province of taste. Thus we speak
of the beauty of a theorem, of an invention, of a philosophical
system or discovery, as frequently, and with the same propriety, as
of a picture or a group of statuary, of a landscape or a building.
Correspondent to these objective modes of speech, we find, in every
polished idiom, such causative forms as these--a taste for the
mathematics, for mechanics, for philology, or science. Now, in these,
and similar instances, in which a like manner of expression by the
common sentiment of mankind, opposed to the opinion of certain writers,
is rightly applied, relations furnishing the specific beauty of the
subjects are perceived, and pleasurable emotions are excited. What
then constitutes the essential difference between the beautiful in
general language, and the beautiful in the fine arts? or, which is
identical, the difference between the powers of judgment and of taste?
Shall we say with some, that to decide on the relations of truth and
falsehood, is the sole province of the judgment or understanding? But
in the fine arts, to whose labours, taste, by these philosophers, is
confined, truth is beauty, falsehood deformity; hence, to discriminate
between even their minutest shades, requires the constant exercise
of the most refined taste. Or, shall we maintain with others, that
beauty consists in certain arrangements and proportions of the parts
to a whole; or in the fitness of means to an end? This, as far as an
intelligible description of beauty, applies equally to the pursuits
of the philosopher and of the artist. Or, omitting almost innumerable
minor theories, shall we say with the philosophy presently accepted,
that beauty is something not intrinsic in the beautiful object, but
dependent on associations awakened in the mind of the spectator?
Without entering now into an examination of this important, because
received opinion, we remark, that this definition of beauty, from its
associated pleasures, is applicable alike to the deductions of science,
to the exercises of imagination, and to the disquisitions of taste.
Indeed, as the discoveries of the philosopher, and the truths which
he discloses, are both more abiding in their nature, and in their
influence more universally important and interesting, it would follow,
even on the system of association, that the beauty of scientific truth
must be, at least, equally fruitful in pleasurable emotions, as the
beauty of any one object in those pursuits to which this system has
hitherto been restricted. And that such is actually the case, may be
proved by an appeal to the writings and the annals of men of study. The
law of gravitation, to take a familiar instance, possesses an essential
principle of the beautiful--simplicity. Accordingly, to a mind of any
refinement, the abstract contemplation of this theory will ever impart
high delight. Yet, how imperfect is the pleasure, and even the beauty,
till the mind associates with this simple law, that thereby worlds are
governed in their course through boundless space; that by the same
discovery, the future generations of rational and immortal beings will
be directed in their most useful and loftiest speculations; and to
all this magnificence of association, what tender sublimity will be
added, by the thought, that the Supreme Father of all has graciously
endowed his creatures with powers, and with permission, to discern the
secondary laws by which infinite wisdom sees fit to rule in the visible

Even the holier and lovelier sensibilities awakened by moral beauty,
though certainly distinct in principle, are in their influence not
easily separable from the pleasures of taste. At least, by the wise
and gracious constitution of the human heart, the latter, when
unallied with the former, necessarily remain imperfect. Our most
exquisite enjoyments in literature and the fine arts will be found to
arise from such performances as most directly remind us of virtuous
associations; while, in the material world, those scenes prove most
delightful which call forth recollections of man's nobleness, or which
elevate our contemplations to the power, and wisdom, and goodness of
the Creator. In one important point, however, is at once discoverable
the independent and higher principle of moral pleasure and beauty.
The humble and pious mind may, often does, enjoy the most refined and
mental gratification in the exercises of charity and devotion, while
the intellectual resources or the adornments of taste are extremely
circumscribed. How wise, how salutary, are these appointments! The
possessor of the most cultivated perceptions and extensive knowledge,
thus feels, if he feel aright, that his acquirements render him only
the more dependent upon religion and virtue for his best and purest
enjoyments, as also for the dignified estimation of his pursuits.
The unlettered but sincere Christian, again, thus knows that his
heartful joys suffer not alloy from ignorance of this world's
external culture. Both are thus equal; yet each profits by his own
peculiar good. The latter is secure against a deprivation imposed by
temporal circumstances: the former is paid the toil and self-denial
of attainment, by the increased manifestations he is thus enabled to
discern of the charms of virtue, and the goodness of Omnipotence.

The presence and operation of taste can thus be traced in every act of
the mind, and are intimately associated with the feelings of our moral
nature. The exercises of taste have ever been regarded as productive
generally of pleasurable emotion. Hence we consider ourselves justified
in defining, at the beginning of this chapter, taste to be 'the
perception of intellectual pleasure.' The common use of language,
also--an authority always to be respected in tracing the extent or
import of ideas--and even the best theories of taste, when rightly
understood, coincide with this definition.

The various systems of taste, however apparently dissimilar, may
be referred in principle to one or other of the two following:
that this is an original and independent faculty; or, that it may
be resolved into a modification of the general powers of the mind.
Of these opinions, the first has been, within the present century,
satisfactorily proved utterly unphilosophical and inadequate to its
purpose; the second is preferable, but imperfect in the explications
hitherto given, chiefly from three causes. First, writers have formed
their conclusions from a consideration of the quality, in its full and
complete exercise, instead of tracing the steps by which it is acquired
or improved: secondly, this intellectual quality, even by the best
writers, has been treated too much as an external sense--or it has been
resolved into direct and inflex perceptions, and confounded with so
many accidental feelings, that the inferences have been most perplexing
and cumbrous: and, thirdly, the subject in general has been treated too
metaphysically. Hence, however learned, or even abstractly just, the
investigations may have been, they have exerted slight influence in
establishing practice upon obvious and enlightened theory.

But declining to enter upon the exposure of what may be conceived
former mistakes, we shall proceed briefly to explain our own views.
Following out, then, the tenor of the preceding remarks, we conceive
taste to be nothing more than a certain acuteness, which necessarily
is acquired by, and always accompanies, the frequent exercise of the
powers of understanding in any one given pursuit. It seems to differ
from mere knowledge, in being attended by a love or desire of the
particular exercise. This desire, whether it precedes or follows
acquirement, is easily accounted for, in the one case, as an agreeable
anticipation of advantage to be gained, and in the other as a mental
habitude; or it is frequently cherished from impressions received
at an age too early for notice. The gratification of this desire,
exclusive even of the enjoyment received from the successful exercise
of the mental powers, sufficiently explains the origin of the pleasures
of taste.

This view of taste, as applicable to, and indeed resulting from,
training of the understanding in all dignified pursuits, is agreeable,
as already shown, to common feeling and common language. But in
deference to the same authorities, it is necessary to limit the idea
to a restricted, that is, a proper sense of the word. Hence we have
said that the object of taste is beauty, as perceivable in the works
of nature and art: thus confining its province to literature and the
fine arts, which reflect nature either by direct imitation, or by more
remote association.

In the present volume, the subject is limited, of course, to the
arts of design; but the principles now expounded are conversant with
every varied application of taste: And we have pursued this extent
of illustration throughout the whole powers of the mind, in order to
ground, on the broadest basis, this practical precept, that taste, like
the powers of judgment and understanding, of which, in fact, it is
only a modification, can be improved, or, we venture to say, acquired
in any useful degree, only by patient cultivation, and well-directed
study of the particular subject. The opinion opposite to this has been
productive of the worst effects, both in the practice and patronage
of the arts. It not unfrequently has led artists into irregular, and
even unnatural compositions; but its greatest evils do daily arise
from those, whose previous habits and attainments by no means qualify
them for judges, confidently pronouncing upon works of art, from what
they are pleased to term a natural taste. This, if it means any thing,
must imply an untutored, and therefore, imperfect taste. We would be
understood here, not as advocating a conventional criticism, but as
maintaining, that the higher beauties, and nobler principles of art,
can be appreciated only by those whose taste has been cultivated by
profound study and knowledge of these principles. One class of effects
in an imitative art is, doubtless, to produce sensations which can be
immediately compared with the more obvious effects and appearances of
nature. Of these every one can judge, whether the effect be actually
produced or not. This, however, though a primary, is the lowest object
of the artist. The dignity, too, and comparative value, of these
effects, can be estimated only by a mind generally cultivated; while
the propriety of the means employed, and their agreement with the modes
of art, the higher beauties of execution, the intelligence of style,
the just character of the performance as a work of peculiar talents,
can be sanctioned by canons of judgment familiar only to those who
have made the subject a regular study. In this we require nothing more
for the sculptor and the painter than is demanded, and rightly too, in
favour of the poet and the orator.

From these observations, founded, as they are, on experience, follows
as a corollary the truth of the previous definition, that, in the
fine arts, beauty is always resolvable into some effect or relation
discerned and approved by the understanding. For since it has been
shown that taste is but another name for intellectual cultivation
and knowledge in a given pursuit, the perception of beauty, which
forms the peculiar object of taste, must ultimately be referred to
the understanding. Now, in an imitative art, there can be only one
relation, namely, truth, which thus becomes both the source and the
criterion of beauty. This truth, however, admits of two specific
distinctions; or at least respects two separate objects, as the
production is compared with nature, the archetype imitated; and with
the principles of the art, or peculiar mode of imitation. In the
one case, there is the relation of resemblance; in the other, that
of consistency. These, in their infinitely various combinations and
modified excellences, still recur to one and the same simple law of the

The general spirit and tendency of these remarks bear directly on
the question regarding a standard of taste. Both parties here, in
pertinaciously adhering to their opinion, are wrong. There is, and
there is not, a standard; meaning, by this term, a permanent rule of
taste beyond which human invention or genius shall never pass. At the
same time, if there be no stable and unerring principles of judgment,
there can be neither merit nor moral dignity, beauty nor truth, in
the works of the most gifted mind. How, then, are facts seemingly so
discordant to be reconciled? We have already adverted to the radical
error in all cases of disregarding, and in some instances of treating
with scorn, the idea of a gradual and laborious acquirement of taste.
This, however, will be found the only idea of the subject truly useful
in a practical view, as well as the sole ground of consistent and
rational theory. Taste is not only progressive, but inductive; it is,
in fact, the result of a series of experiments whose object is beauty.
As in every other species of experimental knowledge, then, the standard
of excellence must vary in different ages according to their lights and
their refinement. In the progress of individual genius this succession
is very remarkable, the objects and nature of its aims changing with,
and indeed indicating, attainment. It is thus clear that taste, whether
nationally or individually considered, must vary in its models, and in
their standards, according to the existing state of knowledge; for,
in departing from received precepts, men are guided by the hope of
reaching higher perfection, or of exhibiting novelty of invention.
If such tentative measures succeed, the general standard is so far
elevated; when they fail, though the advance of real improvement may
be impeded for a season, established modes more firmly recover their
authority. But again, as in every species of experimental science,
those researches, in their practice the most carefully conducted, and
in their inferences the most consistent, are regarded as the canons
of scientific truth; so in the liberal arts, those noble monuments
which, during the longest period, and to the greatest number of
competent judges, have yielded the most satisfaction, are justly
esteemed standards of taste--rules by which other works are to be
tried. Such standards, or final experiments, in the science of taste,
are fortunately possessed in the literary compositions, and in the
remains of the sculpture and architecture of antiquity; as also in the
labours of those moderns who have emulated the teachers of the olden
time. These accredited relics of genius obtain a deserved and venerable
mastery over future aspirings, first, from their own inborn excellence;
secondly, from the effects of that excellence in a continually
increasing influence over association and feeling. Imagination
thus combines with reason in hallowing both the original cause and
the attendant influence into precepts of an immutable authority,
consecrated by the suffrages of the wise and the refined of every later
age. Reason, however, first established, and subsequently demonstrates,
the principles upon which this standard has become unchanged and
unchangable; namely, perfect simplicity in the means, and perfect truth
in the results, through all their varied combinations.

Consideration even of the vicissitudes and revolutions in taste
seems farther to confirm these general views. Opinion, indeed, has
vacillated in the estimation of elegance; but, as in the constantly
returning eccentricities of a planetary body, some secret power
has maintained certain limits to these changes, and round certain
principles, though at times obscured, art has continued to revolve. Now
these checks to barbarous novelty and innovation, have been derived
from the not-altogether-forgotten remembrance of admitted standards,
or from the natural effects upon which these have been founded. The
temporary derelictions of good taste have ever occurred in the most
ignorant ages, and in extent as in duration have corresponded with the
intellectual darkness of the period; the returning light of knowledge
has in this respect also invariably dispelled error, afresh disclosing
the pristine beauty of the ancient models, and recalling the judgment
to the rectitude of those precepts on which they are composed. Even the
tyranny of fashion and the inveteracy of prejudice yield before the
majesty of antique excellence, or produce a passing absurdity adopted
for a day, to be forever forgotten. Surely, then, there must be in
these abiding modes in literature and art, as likewise in that science
of taste which appreciates and determines their canons, a beauty--an
excellence, the offspring and the object of truth and reason--and like
these, ever consistent, immutable, imperishable.

To the doctrines now advocated it furnishes no objection, that mankind
do not agree in the same estimate of beauty, nor even that objects
entirely different in their qualities, are assumed as beautiful. This
fact, indeed, has often and triumphantly been adduced as conclusive
in favour of the sceptical position regarding a standard of taste.
Those writers, again, who support the opposite opinion, seem too
readily to have admitted difficulty in repelling the objection. The
truth is, it can be obviated only on the principle which we have
endeavoured to establish; namely, that taste is the certain result
of intellectual cultivation in the proper province, that it is
consequently commensurate with the degree of intelligence, and always
an object of truth and reason. Now, the diversity so much insisted
upon, is capable not only of being thus easily accounted for, but is to
be expected as the necessary effect of varied extent of knowledge. The
very objection predetermines, that among the rudest people, ideas and
perceptions of something termed beauty are entertained. Does not this
establish the existence of taste coeval with the earliest traces of
information? True, the beauty admired by the African or the Esquimaux
differs from that which awakens the sensibility of the European,--but
so also are their means and capabilities of judging unequal. It is not,
therefore, diversity, but inconsistency of judgment, that in this case
can prove the absence of all fixed principles of decision. Now, we will
venture to affirm, without fear of contradiction, that there is no
inconsistency nor opposition; and that the most polished inhabitant of
Europe, proceeding upon the same premises as the wildest in-dweller of
the desert or savannah, will arrive at exactly the same conclusion. The
sable virgin, for instance, whose charms are acknowledged by the rude
warriors of her tribe, will also, by the refined European, be admitted
among the fairest examples of native beauty. Hence it is evident that
all men acknowledge a standard of taste, founded on similar reasonings
and accordant feelings of the human heart, though the final expression
of this standard, or the degree of refinement whence it is deduced,
will necessarily be modified by moral and physical circumstances, and
by the light enjoyed.

The questions we have now laboured to resolve, are by no means to
be regarded as mere problems in abstract speculation. The subject
is of the highest practical importance, and we have attempted to
reduce it to practical inferences. Nothing has tended more to retard
improvement, than placing genius and taste in opposition to reason
and application. Each of the two former has been invested with some
untangible, undefined excellence, disdaining rule, and superior to the
drudgery of study. In treating of both, authors appear to have aimed
at exalting their theme, by refusing certainty to the operations of
the one, and stability to the principles of the other; treating each
as the empiricism of talent, which it would be as vain to attempt
reducing to precept as to prescribe the eagle's path through heaven.
But how does this accord with fact and with usefulness? Men, the most
eminent for genius, and who have bequeathed to futurity the most
perfect productions, have also been the most remarkable for assiduity.
This industry has been directed as much to the study of principles and
rules as to the creation of new works. We have shown that there are
standards, or rules, of taste, which never can be disregarded save at
the peril of absurdity. If we deny regularity and certainty, or fixed
and rational precepts of criticism to the labours of genius, of what
advantage to succeeding knowledge can these prove? Beyond a passing
pleasure--a barren sentiment, they remain without fruit. Excellence in
the most refined exercises of mind is degraded to a mere knack,--to a
fortunate and inexplicable aptitude. Thus, not the improvement of the
human race only, but the very continuance of acquirement among men,
is rendered uncertain. Yet such are the consequences of every system
which considers taste as different from, and independent of knowledge;
or its precepts as mutable, and not more amenable to judgment than to
imagination. In whatever light, then, the views now briefly proposed be
regarded, whether as respects taste as an object of mental science, or
as the improver of art; whether in its influence upon the understanding
or the heart, they appear to promise the surest, the most practical,
and the most dignified results.

Beauty, as already observed, is the object of taste. The primitive
source, and, in a great measure, the ultimate and only criterion, of
this beauty, is nature. For, in the arts over which taste presides,
natural beauty receives new modifications, and is subjected to new
laws. Yet, in their general tendency and design, poetry, painting,
sculpture, architecture, and even music, all contemplate one end,--to
awaken associated emotion; while each employs the same means of direct
or less obvious imitation of nature.

In each of these arts, however, a distinction exists, both in the
manner and in the extent of instruction. They differ also in the
closeness with which the respective imitations reflect their natural
archetypes. But in this they correspond, that in none is mere imitation
the final, or most exalted, object of the artist. In the fidelity
of representation, and in the facility with which the originals in
nature may be traced, Sculpture and Painting are superior to all the
other imitative arts. Between the vivid creations of these, and the
more varied, more imaginative, but less defined, efforts of poetry,
the middle rank is occupied by Architecture, whose mighty masses and
harmonious proportions fill the mind with awe or delight, as they
recall the majesty or grace of the material world.

Architecture thus stands alone, in its own principles, and, it may be,
in its own pre-eminence. These principles are at once more profound,
or at least more abstract, and yet more determinate, than those of
either of the sister arts. Indeed, so remarkable is this fact, and
so nearly do the limits and the constituents of beauty verge here on
demonstrative science, that we may hereafter point out their connexion
with some of the preceding doctrines of taste. In the meantime, it
may be sufficient merely to mention, that though architecture, as
a necessary knowledge, must have been practised from the earliest
formation of society; and though it furnishes their principal field
to the other arts; yet it was later in arriving at perfection than
Sculpture, which, besides, affords a more continuous series of
monuments, and supplies the best materials for the philosophy of the
subject; and in other respects, the arrangement now selected seems to
promise the most clear elucidation of the history of art.




THE representation of external forms by their tangible properties, in
actual or proportional magnitude, seems the most obvious, as it is the
simplest, mode of imitation. Sculpture, therefore, of all the imitative
arts, probably first exercised the ingenuity of mankind. Even now, we
remark that the rude carvings on the spear-shaft or canoe of the savage
warrior surpass other exhibitions of his skill, and might more readily
be exalted into tasteful decorations. Hence, in tracing the history of
an art which thus appears almost coeval with the earliest formation of
society, the chronology of those ancient empires in which it chiefly
flourished, will supply an arrangement best adapted to the explanation
of the subject.

Regarding the origin of sculptural design, indeed, much has been
written, and many theories proposed, each asserting, for some favorite
people, the praise of invention. All the kindred arts, however, with
which taste and feeling are conversant, have their birth and subsequent
improvement, in the same universal principles of the human mind.
Principles which mysteriously, yet powerfully, and doubtless for the
accomplishment of the wisest ends, connect man with that nature amidst
whose haunts he is destined to dwell--which awaken his untutored
enthusiasm to her beauties, and unite his individual sympathies, as his
social remembrances, with her hallowed associations. It is thus that
human action and human suffering find their earliest records in the
scenes where the events were transacted. The conflict long continues to
revive on its heath; the memory of the chief appropriates the lone vale
where he sleeps; woods, mountains, streams, become the representatives
of supernatural beings--beneficent or vindictive--as sensations of
beauty or of awe are called forth in the mortal breast. The succeeding
step is easy to the erection of less durable but more particular
memorials. Piety--true in sentiment, false in means--patriotism,
friendship, gratitude, admiration, leave the successive impress of
their influence, according to the accessions of intelligence, on
the 'grey stone'--the rude column--the dressed altar--the visible
shape--the perfect statue. How beautiful, then, yet how true, the
allegory of Grecian poetry, which feigns that love, or the natural
affections, taught man the arts of genius!

The gradations, also, from uninformed art to some degree of refined
invention, will present, even among distant nations, little of
diversified character. In the infancy of society, men in all countries
closely resemble each other, in their feelings, in their wants, in
their means of gratification, and improvement. Hence, in the fine arts,
which at first among every people minister, with similar resources,
to the same natural desires, or mental affections, resemblance of
style ought not to be assumed as evidence of continuous imitation
from a common origin. Early Egyptian and Grecian statues exhibit
almost identical lineaments, and even corresponding attitude; simply,
because each had to surmount the same difficulties with nearly equal

The tendency of these remarks, especially applicable to sculpture,
sufficiently proves that no reliance is to be placed on any theories
of its exclusive discovery. Such opinions, however profound they may
appear, are in reality the substitution of a partial view of facts,
when a general law of our nature is within reach. In treating of the
ancient history of sculpture, then, the legitimate objects of inquiry
are, its progress, character, and degree of perfection among the
different nations of antiquity. But though no claims of any single
nation to have imparted the skill to others can be conceded, a very
wide disparity of merit is observable, both in the final excellence
attained by one people, as respects the relative acquirements of
another; and likewise points of equal advance being assumed, the
times past in realising this similar improvement are found to be very
unequal. These facts, here most easily distinguishable, are pregnant
with importance, and invest the history of this art with much of
dignity and solemn interest, exhibiting the striking connexion between
the intellectual and the political and moral condition of man. The
diversity, in truth, is the visible impress which legislation has
stamped upon human genius.

Egypt has been styled the cradle of the arts; and, waiving the
examination of all disputes as to priority, we prefer commencing with
the history of Egyptian sculpture, since its authentic monuments carry
us up to a very early date,--are numerous,--and especially, because
they tend to unite the scattered lights which doubtful tradition flings
over the less perfect remains of Asiatic ingenuity. In pursuing this
investigation, we shall observe the following arrangement of the

  Era of original, or native Sculpture.
  Era of mixed, or Greco-Egyptian Sculpture.
  Era of imitative Sculpture, improperly denominated

The first or true age of Sculpture in Egypt, ascends from the invasion
of Cambyses to unknown antiquity. During this period only were
primitive institutions in full vigour and integrity, and public works,
reflecting national taste, conducted by national talent. The two
remaining eras, extending downwards through the successive dominion
of the Greeks and Romans, have been added, in order to embrace the
consideration of topics, which, though remotely connected therewith,
have hitherto been regarded as integral parts of the subject. In
examining the principles and character of this aboriginal school, there
are still left two sources of judging, with sufficient accuracy, the
merits of its production,--vestiges of ancient grandeur yet existing
on their native site--and the numerous specimens in European cabinets.
These remains may be classed under the three following divisions.

  Colossal statues.
  Groups or single figures about the natural size.
  Hieroglyphical and historical relievos.

In the formation of these various labours, four kinds of materials
are employed: one soft, a species of sandstone; and three very hard,
a calcareous rock, out of which the tombs, with their sculptures, are
hewn; basalt or trap, of various shades, from black to dark grey, the
constituent generally of the smaller statues; granite, more commonly
of the description named by mineralogists _granites rubescens_,
of a warm reddish hue, with large crystals of feld-spar; or it is
sometimes, though rarely, of a dark red ground, with black specks,
as in the magnificent head, mis-named of Memnon, now in the British
Museum. Colossal figures are uniformly of granite, in which also is
a large portion of the relievos. Besides these, from the account of
Herodotus, as also from the statues of wood actually discovered by
modern travellers, we learn that even in great works, the Egyptian
sculptors were accustomed to exercise their skill on that less stubborn
material. Metal appears to have been sparingly used; at least, only
very small figures have yet been found of a composition similar to the
bronze of later times. Yet the book of Job especially, and other parts
of Scripture, would induce the conclusion, that even colossal figures
were, from an early period, cast of metal. In the tombs, as those near
Thebes, small images of porcelain and terra cotta are likewise frequent.

I. The number of colossal statues in ancient Egypt, as described by
the writers of Greece, would appear incredible, especially when we
consider the magnitude of some, and the materials of all, if these
early descriptions were not, at the present day, authenticated by
countless remains. Yet, than a statue of granite sixty or seventy feet
high, there is not, perhaps, one instance more striking, of disregard
of time, and patience of toil. Of these mighty labours, some are hewn
from the living rock, and left adhering to the natural bed; as the
celebrated Sphynx, near the pyramids of Ghizeh, and various sculptures
on the rocks of the Thebaid, which look the shadows of giants cast
by a declining sun. Others again, as in some of the figures in the
Memnonium, appear to have been built; most probably reared first of
square blocks, and afterwards fashioned into shape. The greater part,
however, are composed of one block, raised in the granite quarries of
Upper Egypt, and transported to their destined situation by the waters
of the Nile. Of these works, Herodotus, to whose veracity almost every
new discovery in these countries adds fresh credibility, saw and has
described many, some of which can be identified at the present day,
and others, a labour of not many hours promises to bring to light.
The dimensions of those actually enumerated, extend from twelve to
seventy cubits in height. Some are figures of men; others of animals,
chiefly of the Sphynx. These latter appear to have been in considerable
numbers, usually ranged in corresponding lines on the opposite side of
the approach to the great temples. Of the human colossi, again, some
were isolated, and were probably objects of worship; others were merely
ornaments, chiefly employed as columns, as in the famous Propylæon of
the Temple of Vulcan, ascribed to Psammetichus, and erected at Memphis.
Of the unattached figures, the attitude appears to have exhibited but
little action; the posture apparently various, though seldom erect.
One is described as recumbent, seventy cubits long, accompanied by two
smaller, standing one at each extremity. The largest statues now known,
namely, two in the Memnonium at Thebes, are both in a sitting posture.
All these works, even the columnar statues, seem to have been connected
with religious rites or symbols. This, together with imperfect
science, accounts for the striking similarity discoverable in a class,
the individuals of which are thus varied, at least in purpose and
magnitude. Another peculiarity is, that in Egyptian sculpture, whenever
the dimensions are much beyond nature, the head is always larger than
even colossal proportions would require. It would be unreasonable to
ascribe to ignorance a practice thus universal; it is to be attributed
rather to mistaken principle, in order to render the features more
conspicuous, when removed to a distance from the eye. Where similar
character and design thus pervade the whole class, minuteness of
individual description is unnecessary; we may, however, merely refer,
as examples best known, to the two Theban colossi already noticed,
one of which, from inscriptions still legible, would appear to be the
famous sounding statue of Memnon. In each of these figures, exclusive
of the lower plinth of the throne, the altitude is fifty feet, the
material red granite, and the positions alike--namely, seated, the
head looking straight in front, arms close pressed to the sides, palms
and forearm extended and resting upon the thighs, lower extremities
perpendicular and apart. This posture, which may be described as
characteristic of the entire class, is little calculated to convey any
sentiment of ease or grace. Yet in these vast, although comparatively
uninformed labours, we discover more of the sublime than arises from
mere vastness, or even from the recollections of distant time with
which their memory is associated. They are invested with a majestic
repose--with a grand and solemn tranquillity, which awes without
astonishing; and while they exhibit the greatest perfection to which
Egyptian art has attained, in colossal statues generally, we discover
occasional approaches to truth and nature, with no inconsiderable
feeling of the sweet, the unaffected, and the flowing in expression and

II. To the second class belong both the earliest and the latest works
of the Egyptian chisel; yet between the worst and the best, is not to
be perceived a diversity of merit corresponding to the lapse of time--a
certain proof, that the principles of the art were fixed at an early
period of its progress, and on grounds independent of its precepts.
The first essays in sculpture in Egypt, seem to have been made upon
the living rock, in the process of excavating artificial or enlarging
natural caverns for the purposes of habitation or devotion, and at
every period in Eastern history of sepulture. Statues thus formed,
would, from the mode of their formation, not much exceed the natural
size; and being afterwards detached when finished, were transferred
to other situations. In imitation of these, statues were subsequently
hewn, in what became the ordinary manner, from detached blocks. It is
not here implied, that these two methods can be distinctly traced in
their separate applications, nor that the one was superseded by the
other; but simply, that the state of knowledge, and the habits of the
people, render very probable the priority of the former. Hence appears
an explanation of a singular fact in the history of the art, which
has been the subject of much discussion. In every specimen, without
exception, which can be ranked as Egyptian, a pilaster runs up the back
of the figure, in whatever attitude it may be represented. The origin
of a practice not natural, in an art professing to imitate nature, must
be sought in some external circumstance of its early history. Now,
such circumstance seems plainly discernible in works still remaining,
in the excavations of Philoe, Elephantis, Silsilis, and at El Malook,
in the tombs of the Theban kings. In these monuments, which are often
suites of magnificent chambers hewn from the hard and white calcareous
rock, numerous and beautiful remains of sculpture are preserved. These
ornaments vary from simple relievos to complete statues. In the latter,
the figure is never entirely detached, when placed on the surface of
the wall, a posterior portion being always left adhering; while, if
formed by cutting round to a recess, a pilaster behind runs up the
whole height, evidently with the original view of increasing strength
or of saving labour, or from certain religious notions. Subsequently,
in detached statues wrought out of blocks from the same, or in part
the same motives, and also in order to obtain a surface for the
inscription of hieroglyphics, the aboriginal pillar was retained.
Generally speaking, the workmanship here is inferior to the details
of the colossal figures, although some of the finest specimens belong
to this second division. The varieties, however, cannot be referred
to any regular gradations of improvement, nor determinate epochas of
style, as sometimes attempted. They are the result solely of individual
skill in the artists, and of the views, opulence, or purposes of their
employers. This difference, also, extends only to the minor details of
execution; in the more intellectual principles of art, all are nearly
on an equality. Even the design and attitudes are wonderfully limited,
the sameness being more uniform than could have been produced, except
by the operation of prescriptive rules and fixed models of imitation.

In many of the ancient Egyptian buildings, the whole of the exterior
is frequently covered with relievos. This profusion, for the purpose,
too, of mere decoration, together with the indefinite nature of
hieroglyphical delineation, operated strongly against improvement in
this particular province. Indeed, the prejudicial effects arising
from an embellishment, in which extent more than intrinsic beauty
was regarded, and where arbitrary forms, or mere indications of
known objects, precluded all natural imitation, and all delicacy of
expression, infected the whole of the art. The general inferiority
in works of this third class, is, however, to be understood with
due limitation. In relievos, consisting of few figures, sepulchral
ones for instance, which in the same piece rarely contain more than
three, are often displayed no mean beauties both of execution and of
character. In historical relievos, again, which occupy entire walls
of the temples, crowded as they are with figures in various actions,
processions, battles, sieges, and represented by artists who apparently
possessed no principles of design, save a knowledge of simple form
in its most restricted movements, all is feebleness, puerility, and
confusion. Or if beauty occasionally break forth, it is in some
single reposing figure, or in the patient details of execution. In
the drawing and anatomy, singular ignorance is manifested; the limbs
are without joints, and the movements exhibit neither balance nor
spring; proportion and perspective seem to have been utterly unknown.
Military engines, buildings, horses, soldiers, all appear of the
same dimensions, and all equally near the eye. The hero in all these
monuments bears a strong individual resemblance; he is represented ever
victorious, in the bloom of youth, and in his figure are sometimes
displayed both grandeur and beauty of conception, when considered
apart. But these separate excellences are completely obscured by the
absurdity of representing him at least double the stature of his
followers or opponents. The circumstance of thus confounding moral
greatness with physical magnitude, were alone sufficient to mark the
infancy of invention, and the barbarism of taste. It is nevertheless
only justice to mention, that occasionally, in the historical relievos,
we observe rudiments of higher art, with less of convention, and more
of freedom of imagination, than in any other Egyptian sculptures.

The praises bestowed upon the hieroglyphics of Egypt by Winkleman and
others, must be restricted to the mere workmanship; and even then, are
exaggerated or misplaced. Considered as works of art, if indeed they
can be elevated to that rank, they will be found entirely destitute of
accurate discrimination of form, and are more properly conventional
representations, dependent upon modes and principles at once limited
and arbitrary. These labours, the probable records of primitive
history, and of earliest superstition, are of different kinds. The
first in use, though not afterwards superseded, were anaglyphics, in
which objects are represented by a simple outline, often traced to the
depth of several inches. An obvious improvement upon this was to round
the angles, and to relieve the figures upon themselves; a mode which
very generally obtains. To this manner much ingenuity and forethought
has inconsiderately been ascribed, as if adopted against the attacks
of time, and to cast a deeper shadow on the symbols. It is, on the
contrary, to be judged merely as the resource of an imperfect art.
A third, but comparatively rare method, was to elevate the contour,
by reducing the surface both within and without. The last and most
laborious plan, was to remove the ground entirely, leaving the figures
in proper relief. This, the true relievo, was unknown to or unpractised
in the ancient arts of Egypt. Even the historical and monumental
sculptures just described, partake more of the anaglyphical than of
the elevated relievo. Indeed every specimen of this latter is to be
assigned to a later period than the first and genuine age. By attending
to this, and to the costume of the figures in the most ancient works,
data of importance might be discovered, throwing valuable light on the
eras of Egypt's mysterious monuments.

The expression, mixed art, selected to discriminate the second epoch,
has been adopted, to mark the successive changes in the ancient modes
induced by the Persians and the Greeks. The influence exerted upon
art by the dominion of the former, amounted merely to a negative,--to
the prohibition of its exercise; which, with the destruction of many
of its best monuments, produced a deterioration in the few and feeble
attempts during the latter years of that dynasty. Mythraism, in which
elemental fire was the symbol of the Deity, proscribed the imitative
arts in that service, whence, in all other countries, they have
sprung. The Persians, says the father of history, have neither temples
nor statues. Or, if architecture was encouraged by these conquerors,
evidence still remains that their erections were but modifications of
materials torn from the mighty structures of past ages. In little more
than a century and a half, the Persian was subverted by the Macedonian
empire. Yet even in Alexander, the ancient and native arts of Egypt
obtained not a patron. The majestic range of temples, palaces, and
cities, which bordered the sacred stream of the Nile, furnished so
many quarries, of tempting access, whence Alexandria was reared; and
the mightiest, as well as most rational trophy of Grecian superiority,
received its grandest and most enduring monuments from the stupendous
labours of the first age. His successors followed the example; and
although, under them, the polished literature of Greece, united with
her own subtile philosophy, constituted Alexandria the Athens of the
East, yet in sculpture, in architecture, and in religion, to which both
were subordinate, the character remained essentially Egyptian, but with
certain deviations and additions.

The Roman dominion finally introduced new modifications, or rather
mutations, of the ancient art. This epoch may be considered as
commencing with the introduction of the Isiac mysteries at Rome;
although the principal features by which, as a division in the history
of art, it is distinguished, are not decidedly marked prior to the
reign of Hadrian. The works of the third, or imitative era, have, in
strict propriety, no real connexion with Egyptian sculpture, farther
than as it multiplied copies of the ancient forms, with occasional
accessions of elegance. During a residence of two years in the East,
and by the deification there of his favorite Antinous, Hadrian imbibed
a fondness for the arts, and particularly for the statuary of Egypt.
But the works which he commanded were in all respects Roman, or rather
Grecian, under Egyptian modes. They were indeed most scrupulously
modelled after the most ancient and authentic specimens; even the
materials were brought from the native quarries, but the sculptors were
Greeks or Italians; and the Grecian character of design is visible in
every remaining specimen, the merits of which require notice. Nothing,
therefore, can be more futile, than from the works of this age to infer
the merits or principles of native and ancient art. So far, indeed,
does our scepticism here extend, that we doubt if a single statue of
genuine and ancient Egyptian workmanship is to be found among the
numbers that have been discovered in Italy, and with which Hadrian
filled that portion of the empire.

The general conclusion, then, from these remarks, is, that there is
but one period of real Egyptian sculpture, and that the genius and
character of this indigenous and aboriginal art is to be discovered
only in the most ancient monuments, having suffered various changes
under the Greeks and under the Romans. In establishing this inference,
we have not been guided by the often fanciful, always deceitful,
analogies discoverable in the fluctuating style and varying productions
of imitation, but have viewed these as directed by the steady operation
of the laws and institutions of society, which govern the spirit
and tendency of the arts themselves. During an interval of nearly
twenty centuries previous to the era of Alexander, though diligently
cultivated, sculpture had hardly attained any of the nobler qualities
of invention. The system of taste and of government was in fact
hostile to improvement in this art beyond a certain limit, or upon
any principles, save those fixed on the very threshold of knowledge.
The national polity, which will ever be found to guide the national
taste, induced a preference of the immense and the durable; hence the
grandeur of Egyptian architecture: but in statuary, such a character of
design necessarily produced figures rigid and motionless. The essential
elements of the grand and the beautiful--breadth and simplicity,
are indeed present, but the effect is rarely elicited. The simple
is seldom inspired by any feeling of the true, the natural, or the
graceful; breadth, unrelieved by symmetry of parts, or expression of
details, degenerates into inert magnitude. The colossal forms are the
records only of power, of patience, and of labour; not the creations
of intelligence and of genius. Sculpture also suffered from peculiar
obstacles to its progress. Exclusively attached to the service of
religion, its representations were confined to divinities, priests,
and kings; personages whose modes and lineaments were unalterably
fixed--fixed, too, from types, frequently of the most hideous
description, at least ill managed, and little adapted to the objects
or spirit of the art. This religion likewise admitted no images of
human virtue or sympathy to mingle with its cold obstructions; thus
denying to the Egyptian arts a source, which, to those of Greece,
proved one of the richest and sweetest veins of ideal composition. The
artist, therefore, even had he been allowed to depart from established
but imperfect models, possessed no ennobling source whence to create
new models of beauty or of grandeur. Imagination wanted materials,
which neither the prescribed subject nor living nature, under these
restrictions, could supply. Again, sculpture not only laboured under
the general disadvantage of hereditary and unchanging professions;
a national regulation which repressed every fortunate predilection
of genius, but as a security against the possibility of innovation,
slaves, educated under the immediate care of the priests, were
entrusted with the execution of the most sacred, and, consequently,
most important monuments.

In Egyptian sculpture, thus properly understood, little will be
discovered of that excellence which has been attributed to its remains.
Still there are to be found some first principles of true science; and
these are occasionally developed with considerable beauty of detail;
always with patient, but inefficient technicality. It is by no means
apparent, however, that by the masters of these early ages any theory
was observed; certainly the occasional refinement seems rather the
result of accident or of individual superiority, than of systematic
perceptions, or of transmitted precept. Their best statues have an
elevation of seven hands and a half, being divided equally, the torso
and limbs having the same length. These proportions are pleasing,
and borrowed directly from nature; but they show nothing of that
characteristic beauty of physical art, which, in the varied harmony
of parts, indicates the capabilities of form. A similar principle
regulates the details, which, though brought out with considerable
propriety and softness, are yet without precision or anatomical
knowledge, especially of internal structure,--the heads of the bones,
the insertions and terminations of the muscles, never being correctly
indicated. Hence the forms appear coarse and inelegant, the limbs heavy
and inert, because without vigorous marking on the joints, where the
deeper depressions only and the strongest projections are aimed at,
not feelingly touched. The attitude, also, is constantly rectilinear,
denoting that condition of the art when poverty of source limits its
reach of the beautiful by the difficulties of execution. It is, in
fact, the first choice of invention rendered permanent by prescriptive
institutions. From the curve being thus unknown in the contour, the
action is necessarily angular in its direction, unless the movement
be parallel to the gravitating line of the figure. Hence the range of
action and of attitude is very circumscribed; the arms either hanging
close by the sides or crossed at right angles on the breast; or, as a
slight variation, one is placed in each posture. Lateral movements in
like manner are limited, the statue standing equally poised on both
limbs, the feet not exactly opposite, one being in advance, often
almost in front of the other. Whether erect, sitting, or kneeling, the
action is the same: hence, little of grace or animation of movement
is to be found even in the most perfect works; yet there is often to
be remarked a grave and staid serenity, neither unpleasing nor devoid
of interest. As in the selection of attitude, however, the artist
has been guided, not by the beautiful, but by his own timidity and
confined resources; so in expression, little beyond a vague and general
emotion has been attempted; seldom more, indeed, than might be produced
by the symmetrical arrangement of the features. These are flat, the
countenance being Ethiopian, and are just sufficiently distinguished
for the effect of separation; the depth of shadow is wanting to give
contrast and firmness. The eyes, whether long and narrow, the peculiar
characteristic of the earliest era, or more full and open, as in the
Greco-Egyptian period, are nearly on the general level of the face; the
nose is broad and depressed, the lips thick, and always sharp on the
outer edge, though often touched with great softness and delicacy; the
cheeks, chin, and ears, are large, ill made out, and without feeling.
Hence, although the heads are often finished with wonderful labour, the
effect is always feeble, while the whole is uniformly surmounted by
harsh and disproportionate masses of drapery, overpowering the already
too weak expression. The superior beauty of some of the colossal busts
may perhaps be rightly attributed to their having been executed as
portraits. Conventional art, even in the most skilful hands, is rarely
pleasing; nature, even rudely imitated, is ever viewed with a degree of

On the methods employed to work materials so unyielding as those of the
Egyptian sculptors, it is difficult to propose any decided opinion.
On their porphyry, granite, and basalt, modern tools can hardly make
impression; yet are the forms, in all instances, highly finished, with
angles sharp and unbroken. The latter circumstance, indeed, constitutes
a peculiar feature in the works of this country as distinguished from
Oriental art generally, which, together with breadth and simplicity,
brings them nearest the productions of the Grecian chisel. From the
style of execution, however, it would appear that the effect has been
brought out rather by patience and labour, than by rapid or dexterous
management. In fact, the general character has been influenced not a
little by the materials; for in the statues of wood, both as described
and discovered, the action is bolder, and the manner more free. If a
conjecture may be hazarded on the subject of their theory, it would
seem that the Egyptians, in the infancy of their arts, were guided
by an outline traced round a human figure, dead or alive, extended
upon the block, face upwards, with the arms close by the sides, and
the limbs placed together exactly as their statues are composed. The
scattered details given in the Greek writers respecting the arts of
this ancient people, have indeed induced the belief, that they were
acquainted with much more refined canons of symmetry; but it ought to
have been observed, that Diodorus and others describe the practices
existing in their own times, when Egypt had, to a certain extent,
become the pupil of Greece. In some respects, also, it is difficult
to give implicit credit to their accounts, at least in the common
interpretation. It is farther particularly to be observed, that the
supposition now made will account for the correctness of the general
proportions which would thus be obtained from nature; likewise no
theory of proportional parts can be detected different from the results
thus obtainable, while those details which a refined theory would
preserve, but which could not by such method be measured, are defective.

We have been thus minute and critical in these investigations for
two reasons: from Egypt certainly descended the first principles of
improvement to Western art, while no less evidently did the Eastern
world derive its entire knowledge from the same source. Consequently,
in carefully examining that of the Egyptians, the best account,
deduced too from monuments actually observed, has been given of
Oriental Sculpture generally. Of the mighty empires, indeed, which
once embraced the happiest regions of Asia and of the globe, a name,
or at most a shapeless mass of ruins, alone remain. Of Jewish art,
the sole memorials in existence are the sculptured transcripts on
the arch of Titus. But every description in the sacred records,
from the calf of the wilderness to the twelve oxen of the molten
sea, or the lions of the throne of Solomon, evinces the taste of
the former bondsmen of Pharaoh, and of him who was skilled in all
the learning of the Egyptians; at the same time we learn that the
Israelites quickly departed from the severe and simple grandeur of
the parent source. Moving eastward: Baalbec's gigantic masonry is
adorned with little of sculpture; the lonely Palmyra exhibits only
Roman ruins, for the Tadmor of Scripture has long disappeared; the
pillared Persepolis claims a remoter antiquity; but the Pelhavi and
arrowheaded inscriptions, instead of hieroglyphics, show comparatively
recent, and the innumerable and beautiful sculptures, display certain
traits of the Grecian school. They cannot be older than Cyrus, but
most probably belong to the age of his successors. The mysterious
monuments of Hindustan alone seem to claim an equal or more ancient
date compared with the labours we have surveyed. Their nature, also,
is the same; hence there are not wanting names of highest eminence,
who have maintained not only the greater antiquity of Indian art, but
that thence has been derived all other, as from the parent source. This
opinion has been grounded too exclusively on the dubious inferences of
philology, or of mere antiquarian erudition,--dubious, at least, when
applied to Sculpture. Here the subject itself ought to supply the true
principles of decision; and on this point one observation will suffice.
The sculpture, like the architecture, of Egypt, bears the impress of
uniform simplicity; the grand lines of composition are few, accessories
are sparingly introduced, and wear the same sober, massive, and
unpretending character. In the works of Asiatic art, on the contrary,
although presenting a general resemblance to those of Egypt, the design
is neither simple nor uniform; the parts are numerous, breaking the
master lines into multiplied compartments, while the style of ornament
is replete with complicated details, and of pretension above the means
of the artist. Now, judging according to the natural inferences from
these facts, and according to the acknowledged precepts of imitative
art, this latter style, with its defects in keeping, has evidently
arisen in consequence of superinducing a laboured and injudiciously
aspiring taste upon the more severe and simple conceptions of a
primitive composition. Similar principles may be obviously traced in
the farther progress of the arts eastward. China is admitted, on the
most learned authorities, to have been planted by colonists from the
banks of the Indus and the Ganges; and in the unchanging modes of that
country, we seem almost to catch glimpses of the aboriginal knowledge
of our race. Yet how striking the difference between the ornate and
the frittered labours of the Chinese compared with the works either of
India or of Egypt! Even their great wall is but the accumulation of
petty exertions--an evidence of numerical, not of scientific energy.


IN the previous chapter, Egypt has been exhibited as the centre of
intelligence in the history of ancient art; and having explained the
connexion which can still be traced in the few remaining monuments of
the East, we now turn from the parent source to trace the progress of
refinement in the West, where, first in Greece, the human mind awoke
to the full consciousness of its capacious grasp, and of its exquisite

The universal origin of sculptural representation, already noticed, in
the alliance which man forms with natural objects as shadowing forth
the affections or the regrets of the heart, is nowhere so conspicuous
as in Greece. Here art was poetry from the beginning; her consecrated
groves, her winding streams, her flowery plains, the azure depths of
her mountains, became at once the residence and the representatives
of those beings, whether divine or heroic, who constituted her
theology. By a people, simple in their habits, yet ardent in their
feelings, this early faith was long remembered,--such reminiscences
deeply tincturing much of what is most exquisitely descriptive and
sentimental in Grecian poetry. But a belief so abstract, so untangible
in its forms, and so remotely addressed to the senses, would soon prove
insufficient to maintain effectual empire over the passions. Attempts
were speedily made to secure, as it were, the more immediate presence
and protection of the objects of veneration or of worship. Men's
desires in this respect, however, as in all other instances, would
necessarily be limited by their knowledge and their powers. In the
primitive ages, accordingly, objects rude and unfashioned as we learn
from history, were adored as representing the divinities of Greece.
Even to the time of Pausanias, stones and trunks of trees, rough and
uninformed by art, were preserved in the temples: and though replaced
by forms almost divine, still regarded with peculiar veneration, as the
ancient images of the deities. As skill improved, these signs began
to assume more determinate similitude; and from a square column, the
first stage, by slow gradations something approaching to a resemblance
of the human figure was fashioned. These efforts at sculpture long
continued extremely imperfect. The extremities seem not to have been
even attempted; the arms were not separated from the body, nor the
limbs from each other, but, like the folds of the drapery, stiffly
indicated by deep lines drawn on the surface. Such appears to have been
the general state of the art immediately prior to the period when it
can first be traced, as cultivated with some degree of success in any
particular place. This occurs about twelve centuries before Christ.

The fine arts have never flourished in states not commercial; in this
respect, presenting a marked contrast to the origin and progress of
poetry and music; a fact singularly exemplified in the condition of
those cities where arose the primitive schools in Greece. Sicyon,
Ægina, Corinth, and Athens, were the first seats of commerce and of
sculpture. Sicyon, with its small but important territory, extending
a few miles along the south-eastern extremity of the Corinthian gulf,
was the most ancient of the Grecian states, and probably the oldest
city of Europe. From the earliest times, it became celebrated for the
wealth, enterprise, and intelligence of its population; and from the
Sicyonian academy were sent forth many of the most celebrated masters
of design; hence Sicyon obtained the venerable appellation of 'Mother
of the Arts.' The foundation of this school, though most probably of
much higher antiquity, is assigned to Dibutades, who, in the humble
occupation of a potter, became the accidental inventor of the art of
modelling. For this discovery, so precious in its subsequent effects,
he was indebted to the ingenuity of his daughter, who, inspired by
love, traced upon the wall, by means of a lamp, the shadowed profile of
the favored youth as he slept, that with this imperfect resemblance she
might beguile the lingering hours of absence. This outline the father,
filling up with clay, formed a medallion, which, even to the time of
Pliny, was preserved as a most interesting relic. To the same pleasing
origin painting has been ascribed--another instance of that delightful
charm, which, to their poetry, their arts, their philosophy even, the
Greeks have imparted by the constant union of sentiment and reason--of
the heart with the understanding.

The little island, or rather rock, of Ægina, still one of the most
interesting spots of Greece, rising above the waves of the Saronic
gulf, nearly opposite to Athens, affords a striking illustration of the
effects of commercial wisdom. Insignificant in extent, boasting of few
productions, it was yet enabled, by this wisdom, long and successfully
to maintain the struggle of warfare, and to cherish the arts of
peace and of elegance, especially sculpture, in a school, if not the
earliest, certainly latest distinguished by originality of style and
invention. Smilis was famous by his statues of Juno, especially one
at Samos, called by Pliny 'the most ancient image' of that goddess.
Even in the works of this, her first master, it is said, were to be
discovered a gravity and austere grandeur, the principles of that style
visible still in the noble marbles which once adorned, in Ægina, the
temple of Jupiter Panhellenius.

Corinth was early more celebrated as the patroness of painting.
Concerning Dædalus, the first of the Athenian sculptors, doubtful or
fabulous accounts have reached us; but a careful investigation of
circumstances proves, that of whatsoever country a native, he had
rendered himself renowned by the exercise of his skill at the court of
Minos before settling in Attica. The facts attending his arrival there,
and the history of his previous labours, enable us to fix dates, and to
trace the true source of improvement in Grecian art at this particular
era. Of the early establishments of the Greeks planted in the isles of
the Ægean, which even preceded the mother country in the acquisition
of wealth and intelligence, the Doric colony of Crete enjoyed, from
a very early period, the happiness and consequent power of settled
government. External advantages of situation first invited the access,
while domestic institutions secured the benefits, of ancient and
uninterrupted intercourse with Egypt. Hence the laws and the arts of
the Cretans. With the former, the Athenian hero, Theseus, wished to
transplant the latter also; and while he gave to his countrymen a
similar system of policy, he did not fail to secure the co-operation
of one whose knowledge might yield powerful aid in humanizing a rude
people by adding new dignity to the objects of national veneration.
Accordingly Dædalus, accompanying the conqueror of the Minotaur to
Athens, fixes there the commencement of an improved style, 1234 years
before the Christian era. With Dædalus, the artists already mentioned
are described as nearly or altogether contemporaries.

The performances of Dædalus were chiefly in wood, of which no fewer
than nine, of large dimensions, are described as existing in the second
century, which, notwithstanding the injuries of fourteen hundred
years, and the imperfections of early taste, seemed, in the words of
Pausanias, to possess something of divine expression. Their author, as
reported by Diodorus, improved upon ancient art, so as to give vivacity
to the attitude, and more animated expression to the countenance. Hence
we are not to understand, with some, that Dædalus introduced sculpture
into Greece, nor even into Attica; but simply that he was the first
to form something like a school of art, and whose works first excited
the admiration of his own rude age, while they were deemed worthy of
notice even in more enlightened times. Indeed the details preserved
in the classic writers, that he raised the arms in varied position
from the flanks, and opened the eyes, before narrow and blinking,
sufficiently prove the extent of preceding art, and the views we
have given on the subject. In these primitive schools, however, many
centuries necessarily elapsed, before sculpture can be considered as a
regular art. Their founders and pupils were little more than ingenious
mechanics, who followed carving among other avocations. Such were
Endæus of Athens, celebrated for three several statues of Minerva;
Æpeus, immortalized as the fabricator of the Trojan horse; Icmulous,
praised in the Odyssey as having sculptured the throne of Penelope;
with many others who must have contributed to the arts of the heroic
ages, and who, if they did not rapidly improve, at least kept alive the
knowledge of sculpture.

Besides these continental schools, another must be described, which
there is every reason to believe was still more ancient, and which
certainly attained higher perfection at an earlier period. This was
the insular Ionian school, flourishing in those delightful isles
that gem the coast of Asia Minor, and chiefly in Samos and Chios. To
this the continental academies were even indebted for many of their
most distinguished members, who, leaving the narrow sphere of their
island homes, naturally preferred the commercial cities from the same
causes which had rendered these originally seats of art, opulence,
intelligence, and security. Of the Samian masters, Rhæcus, about the
institution of the Olympiads, or 777 B. C., first obtained celebrity,
as a sculptor in brass, in which art, Telecles and Theodorus, his son
and grandson, also excelled. Their works in ivory, wood, and metal,
were extant in the age of Pausanius, whose description exhibits the
hard and dry manner of Egypt, whence it is probable these artists had
derived their improvements, distinguished for very careful finish.
The Chian school claims the praise of first introducing the use of a
material to which sculpture mainly owes its perfection, namely, marble.
The merit of this happy application is assigned to Malas, the father
of a race of sculptors, and who is placed about the 38th Olympiad, or
649 years before the Christian era. Michiades inherited and improved
the science of the inventor, transmitting to his own son, Anthermus,
the accumulated fame and experience of two generations of sculptors,
to whom, as to their successors, the beautiful marbles of their native
island furnished one rich means of superiority.

In the insular,--and the evidence is in favour of the Chian school,--we
also first hear of bronze statues. The earliest works of this kind were
not cast, but executed with the hammer. Two manners are discernible;
large figures were formed of plates, and hollow, the interior being
filled with clay; in small pieces, the separate parts were brought
nearly into shape in the solid, afterwards united, and the whole
finished by the graver and the file. These methods, in each of which
rivets, dovetails, and soldering, formed the joints, were gradually
superseded as the knowledge of casting was acquired.

About the commencement of the sixth century before Christ, the school
of Sicyon was illustrated by Dipænus and Scyllis, brothers, the
most famous of her ancient masters, and whose age forms an era in
the history of the ancient art, marking the first decided advances
towards the mastery of the succeeding style. Their labours were in
various materials, the most esteemed of marble; and the praise of its
application is shared betwixt them and the Chian school. Statues by
these artists, in Parian marble, were admired in the time of Pliny,
excited the cupidity of Nero, and are subsequently described by one
of the Christian fathers, from the peculiar veneration in which they
were held. The style of sculpture had hitherto been extremely dry and
minute;--a passion for extreme finish, in preference to general effect,
had distinguished former masters. This taste had been first introduced,
and afterwards maintained, by the limited resources of the art itself,
by the mediocrity of artists, and by the dress and ornaments of the
time. The hair arranged in undulating locks or spiral curls, and
sometimes little separate knobs, was laboured as if to be numbered;
the drapery, disposed in the most rigid and methodical folds, finished
with painful minuteness; at the same time the limbs and countenance
retained much of rude and incorrect form and tasteless expression, but
elaborated with the extreme of care. It is far easier, and the common
error, both of inferior genius and of an unskilful age, to bestow on
parts that talent and application by which a whole is to be perfected.
The fault of fastidious and useless labour, with inaccuracy of general
result, still attaches to the works of Dipænus and Scyllis, but great
melioration is also apparent; their execution was much more free, the
whole effect more powerful, the expression, if not more animated, more
natural, and the forms better selected and composed. Colossal heads,
now in the British Museum, of Hercules and Apollo, most probably of
these masters, afford an admirable illustration of these remarks, and
of the style of art at this early period. The fiftieth Olympiad, shows
all the necessary inventions and principles of mechanical art fully
known and universally practised. Even so early as the twentyninth
Olympiad, an equestrian group had been executed in Crete by Aristocles;
all the proper materials, and the methods of working them, had long
been discovered; in the greatest single work of these times, the shrine
of Apollo at Amyclæ, by Bathycles the Ionian, every description of
relief had been exhibited; and lastly, improvement had been fixed on
such principles of taste and composition, as enabled succeeding efforts
to carry it forward.

The extent of country in which the art was now cultivated, and the zeal
evinced in the pursuit, corresponded to, while they increased, the
improvement of taste. Attention is now directed to a new school, that
of Magna Græcia, which (during two thousand years), had been gradually
rising into importance and excellence. Its chief seats were at Rhegium
and Crotona in Italy, and in Sicily, Syracuse and Agrigentum. In these,
the artists first practised in metal chiefly, afterwards in marble;
and were among the foremost to perfect iconic statues,--a source of
most decided advantage to the art. Omitting farther enumeration,
one of these early masters, Dionysius of Rhegium, merits to be
mentioned as the first who composed a statue of Homer, erected about
the twenty-seventh Olympiad. This was an ideal bronze, in which the
traditionary resemblance had been preserved; and from this ancient
original were taken those portraits of the father of verse which are
mentioned by Pliny as so numerous in his time, and of which one or two
exquisite examples still remain.

Thus five centuries and a half before the Christian era, sculpture was
practised with success throughout the wide extent of Greece and her
colonies. During the former part of the sixth century, however, Sicyon,
whose school had added to its ancient supremacy by the superiority of
Dipænus and Scyllis, continued to send forth, in their pupils, the
most numerous and efficient artists. Of these, the principal were
Learchus, a native of Rhegium; Theocles, Dontas, Doryclidos, and Medon,
Lacedæmonians; Tecteus and Angelion of Delos, where they erected a
colossal statue of Apollo. At Rhegium, Clearchus was highly esteemed,
and had a very flourishing academy; while at Agrigentum, Perillus
rivalled the masters of the parent schools. He cast the famous bull
of Phalaris, afterwards carried off by the Carthaginians, restored by
Scipio, again the object of the cupidity of Verres, and of the praise
of Cicero, whose words, _ille nobilis Taurus_, prove that the skill of
those early ages has not been too highly appreciated.

But the fame of all preceding sculptors has suffered from the superior
reputation of the two Chian brothers, Bupalus and Anthemis, who lived
517 years B. C. They were the first who brought to a high degree of
perfection the discovery of their ancestors,--sculpture in marble.
Both Greece and Asia strove to possess their works, which were equally
numerous and excellent, and on which was inscribed, not their own,
but their father's name and their country's, in the following verse:
'The sons of Anthermus will render thee, O Chios, more renowned than
thy vines have yet done.' The beauty of these works caused them to be
highly valued in all succeeding ages, and they formed part of those
master-pieces removed to Rome by order of Augustus.

During the period of fiftyeight years, from the sixtieth to the
seventysecond Olympiad, and the battle of Marathon, sculpture
throughout Greece was vigorously exercised, and with corresponding
success. At Athens, which, though distinguished in the very
commencement of our narrative, has subsequently appeared in the
back ground, Pisistratus laid the foundation of that school whence
afterwards issued the new lights of the art. This extraordinary man
perceived and applied the proper remedy to the poverty of Attica: he
introduced manufactures and encouraged commerce; and while the true
sources of political greatness were thus opened, the more enviable
supremacy of his country was secured in the intellectual empire of
literature and the arts of elegance. Yet this man has been termed, in
the history of that very country, a tyrant, because he saved her from
her worst enemy, the mob--miscalled free citizens--slaves of their own
passions, and agents in the hands of demagogues. Our own times are not
without similar prejudices. Mankind seem destined, in all ages, to be
the dupes of fears and of phantoms which they themselves have evoked,
and which distract attention from real danger. Happy that state,
governed by rulers, who, like Pisistratus, will respect the essentials
of free institutions, who will consecrate the resources of the state
to promote the national grandeur, and save the people from themselves!
Under his protection were assembled the most esteemed artists of all
descriptions: of sculptors, Eucharis was famous for the figures of
warriors in armour; and Callon for statues of bronze. Callimachus
is praised as master of all the arts of design, and in sculptural
composition had introduced a lightness and elegance before unattained.

In other parts of Greece, during the same interval, were the following:
Dameas, of whose works, the statue of his compatriot Milo was the most
celebrated, and which the latter, among his other wonderful feats,
carried to the place of erection. Polycletus, the first of the name,
and his master Ageladas, finished at Argos, their native city, the
statue of Cleosthenes in a car, soon after the sixtyseventh Olympiad,
and one of the greatest works yet undertaken. At Sicyon were the
brothers Canachus and Aristocles, whose two Muses were the finest
statues then known; and of which, one is supposed to be the famous
antique now in the Barbarini palace. Ascarus, at Elis, produced a
Jupiter crowned with flowers; Menecmus and Soidas a Diana, afterwards
placed in the palace of Augustus. Menecmus was the first who wrote on
the principles of his art. The Dioscorides of Egesias, contemporary
with the Persian invasion, have, by a misinterpretation of Pliny, been
assigned to the figures now on Monte Cavallo, at Rome.

The victory of Marathon, B. C. 490, inspired fresh vigour into the
genius and institutions of Greece. From this date, to the government
of Pericles, intervenes a period in moral grandeur, the brightest,
perhaps, in Grecian history. Of the sculptors who then flourished,
the immediate predecessors, or early contemporaries, of Phidias, the
following were the chief: Onatas and Glaucias, of Egina; the one
modelled an admirable statue of Gelon, king of Syracuse; the other, an
iconic figure of Theagines of Thasos, four hundred times victorious
in the public games. Critias replaced the statues of Harmodias and
Aristogiton, the originals having been carried off by Xerxes. Calamis
was still more renowned for his horses, which were likewise iconic
statues--a proof how early nature was admitted as the only guide in
every department of sculpture. Pythagoras of Rhegium surpassed all
his predecessors; his statues of Enthymus and Astylas, conquerors in
the Olympic games, were masterpieces of form; and in expression, his
Philoctetes exhibited deeper and truer sentiment than had yet appeared
in any work. The name of Pythagoras, indeed, is closely associated with
the general advancement of the art, as ranking among the inventors of
that system of proportion which, derived from nature, taught to unite
elegance with truth, and which invariably guided the practice, while
its perfection was improved by the discoveries, of each succeeding
master. In the mechanical department, also, his manner was more bold,
firm, and graceful, in delicacy of style being placed by Quintilian
inferior only to Myron, the last and the greatest of the early school.

Myron, a native of Eleutheræ, exercised his profession chiefly at
Athens, of which he enjoyed the citizenship. The decline of his life
corresponds with the early labours of Phidias: Myron thus unites
the first and second ages of Grecian sculpture, combining in his
works many of the essential excellences of its perfection, with
some of the remaining hardness and defects of its pupillage. In
adopting this chronology, we seem to reconcile conflicting opinions
both with each other and with history. The principal works of Myron
were in bronze, and the most colossal in wood; consequently, no
original of his hand has come down to modern times. There can,
however, be no doubt that the famous Discobolos is preserved to us
in more than one antique repetition. Hence, and from the writings
of the orators and historians, a fair estimate of his merits may
be deduced. His composition was distinguished for energy, science,
and truth. Iconic statues he carried to a degree of excellence and
vigour, as in the portrait of Ladus, unsurpassed in any succeeding
age. The Bacchus, Erectheus, and Apollo, executed by order of the
state, were not less admired by the Athenians; the last, carried
away by Antony, was restored to them by Augustus, in consequence of
a dream. His representations of animals were equally admirable; and
seem, if possible, to have been more universally praised, judging
from the circumstance of no fewer than thirtysix laudatory poems on
the famous heifer being still extant in the Anthology. Myron carried
mere imitative art to its utmost limits; yet in some of the minor
details, the dry manner of the first ages appeared. Sculpture, as
the representation of the external form, he perfected; but as an
instrument of touching the heart--of elevating the imagination--of
embodying sentiment, he proved unequal to call forth its powers. He
represented nature forcibly and with fidelity, but without grandeur or
ideal elevation. An important approach, however, to just conceptions
of abstract beauty, is to be perceived in the principle which he is
said first to have promulgated,--that propriety in the separate parts
was beauty, or that a work of art was beautiful as a whole, according
as the partial forms and proportions corresponded to their offices and
to the general character. This, in fact, is the essence of corporeal
beauty, the highest refinement of material art; and assigns to form,
independent of mind, the noblest expression of which it is susceptible.
This is the utmost range attained by the genius of this the first
period in the history of art in Greece, and an admirable ground-work
for the sublimity, and refined perceptions of the beautiful, added in
the era that followed.

Casting a retrospect over the ages that have passed in review, how are
we struck with the slow and painful growth of human invention! The
collective energies and discoveries of a thousand years were required
to rear the arts of Greece--not to their perfection, but to the state
where the first decided approaches to it commence. Such is the length
of time from the first feeble glimmerings of imitative art to the era
of Dipænus and Scyllis, Bupalus and Anthermus. The interval of forty
years occupied by these artists, from the fiftieth to the sixtieth
Olympiad, may be considered as terminating the old, and introducing
the new school. The art was now in possession of all the means and
instruments, the correct application of which bound the aspirings and
the praise of mediocrity, but which merely become subservient to the
aims of loftier minds. During part of this period, also, these means
were industriously, and with daily improving skill, employed. From
this date to the battle of Marathon, an interval of fifty-eight years,
improvement was rapid in every corner of Greece and her colonies.
Fortunately, also, the movement then given to Sculpture was one of
diffuse activity, not an influence derived from, and sustained amongst,
a few leading minds, whose authority might thus have operated fatally,
by binding down to fixed and imperfect modes the aspirings of future
genius. This advantage was secured by the number of independent states
forming the Grecian confederacy, a constitution, which, throughout the
whole history of ancient art, exercised the most beneficial effects,
both by preventing mannerism, in taste, and by nourishing emulation.

The Persian invasion, the victories of Marathon, Salamis, and Platea,
awakened a new energy in the moral character of Greece, infusing at
the same time into her institutions a vigour and a stability before
unknown. From the elevation she had now attained among the nations of
the earth, her genius rushed forward as from vantage ground. In every
field of mental enterprise, indeed, a certain preparation had already
been made, and in some the best exertions had long been achieved. In
poetry a sublimity had been attained, which has yet set at nought all
succeeding rivalry. But in that knowledge, and in those arts, which
depend less upon individual eminence, and more upon the circumstances
of the times, and upon a strong national interest,--in all those
studies which embrace numbers by their consequences or their success,
which demand the union of patient perseverance with high talent, and
finally, which pertain to the business of public life, and require deep
insight into the nicer distinctions of human character--all, from this
happy era, with an almost supernatural progress, attained maturity.

The opulence and security, with the resulting consciousness of power,
and the love of elegance, which followed the defeat of the Barbarians,
proved especially propitious to the arts of sculpture and architecture.
If in the former any doubt be entertained, what the difference of
improvement was between the artists who preceded and those who
followed the age of Xerxes, we have only to recall the fortunes of
the drama during the same heart-stirring period. In the last of the
74th Olympiad, A. C. 489, or one year after the battle of Marathon,
Æschylus placed the first wreath upon the solemn brow of Tragedy.
Not twenty years afterwards, the warrior bard was vanquished by his
youthful rival. Between the Prometheus of Æschylus, then, and the
[OE]dipus of Sophocles, we find as wide an interval as is necessary to
suppose between the sculptures contemporary with the former, and the
productions of Polycletus or Myron.


THE age of Pericles seemed marked out by fortune as a distinguished
epoch in the history of his country. The fine talents, also, and
popular qualities of this accomplished statesman, were admirably
adapted to turn to the best account the propitious circumstances of the
period. To the further progress of the fine arts, and of sculpture in
particular, preceding events, and their present consequences, almost
necessarily contributed; while the condition of the art itself was just
fitted to receive the perfecting impulse.

The energies of sculpture, likewise, were now to be more directly
concentrated in one parent school; which, while it especially adorned
one seat, preserved yet the stirring rivalry of honorable emulation,
as being the common seminary of free and independent states. The noble
stand she had made, her superior sacrifices and sufferings in the cause
of freedom, directed to Athens the sympathy and deference of Greece.
The prosperity, too, of her political situation, was suitable to the
support of this moral pre-eminence. Provided with means of defence and
of commerce, on a scale which seemed to contemplate future empire, she
was left by Themistocles with ample resources--a noble field of fame
and recompense for the artist. He himself, satisfied with the useful,
had cared less about the ornamental; but, among the little he did add,
were the lions, now at Venice, originally placed on the entrance to the
Piræus, in which fidelity of detail, and grandeur of conception, have
furnished to us existing evidence of the skill of this age.

Great as they were, the mind of Phidias proved equal to these external
advantages. Possessing that rarest and highest of all genius which
is at once creative and regular--learned, yet original, he caught the
inspiration of art in the most elevated range of the past, bringing in
his own attainments a sublimity and truth yet unequalled by all that
has followed.

This great master, the son of Charmidas, an Athenian citizen, was
born about the 72d Olympiad, or nearly 500 years before our era, and
studied under Eladas. His numerous works belonged to three distinct
classes: Toreutic, or statues of mixed materials, ivory being the
chief,--statues of bronze,--sculptures in marble. In this enumeration
are included only capital performances, for exercises in wood, plaster,
clay, and minute labours in carving, are recorded occasionally to have
occupied his attention. The beauty of these miniatures was not inferior
to the excellence of his greater works; at once sublime and ingenious,
he executed grand undertakings with majesty and force, and the most
minute with simplicity and truth.

  'Artis Phidiacæ toreuma durum
  Pisces adspicis: adde aquam, natabunt.'

  'These fish are iv'ry--but by Phidias made;
  From want of water only seem they dead.'

Of the works belonging to the first division, the Olympian Jupiter, and
the Minerva of the Parthenon, colossal statues composed of gold and
ivory, were the most wonderful productions of ancient art. The former,
placed in the Temple at Elis, was sixty feet high, in a reposing
attitude, the body naked to the cincture, the lower limbs clothed in a
robe gemmed with golden flowers; the hair also was of gold, bound with
an enamelled crown; the eyes of precious stones; the rest of ivory.
Notwithstanding the gigantic proportions, every part was wrought with
the most scrupulous delicacy; even the splendid throne was carved with
exquisite nicety. The whole was finished before the artist had obtained
the direction of the public works of the Athenians, in the 83d Olympiad
after a labour of ten years; the same date in which Herodotus read the
second part of his history, the first regular prose composition that
had been heard at Athens.

About twelve years later was executed the Minerva, of inferior
dimensions, being only forty feet in altitude, but equal, if not
superior, in beauty of workmanship and richness of material, the nude
being of ivory, the ornaments of gold. A flowing tunic added grace to
the erect attitude of the goddess: in one hand was a spear, upon the
head a casque; on the ground a buckler, exquisitely carved, the concave
representing the giants' war, the convex a conflict with the Amazons,
portraits of the artist and of his patron being introduced among the
Athenian combatants--one cause of the future misfortunes which envy
brought upon the author. On the golden sandals was also sculptured
another favorite subject, the battle of the Centaurs, praised by
historians as a perfect gem of minute art.

Such admiration attached to these two works, that they were regarded as
'having added majesty to the received religion;' and it was esteemed a
misfortune not to have been able, once in a lifetime, to behold them.
Yet judged according to the true principles of genuine art, theirs
was not a legitimate beauty. It does not excite surprise, then, to
learn that Phidias himself disapproved of the mixed effect produced
by such a combination of different substances, nor will it appear
presumptuous here to condemn these splendid representations. It is not
sufficient that a work of art does produce a powerful impression--it
is indispensable to its excellence that the means employed be in
accordance with the principles and the mode of imitation. Now, in the
compositions just described, exposed as they were to the dim light of
the ancient temple, and from very magnitude imperfectly comprehended,
the effects of variously reflecting surfaces, now gloom, now glowing
of unearthly lustre, must have been rendered doubly imposing. But
this influence, though well calculated to increase superstitious
devotion, or to impress mysterious terror on the bewildered sense, was
meretricious, altogether diverse from the solemn repose, the simple
majesty of form and expression, which constitute the true sublimity of
sculptural representation.

Statuary, or the art of casting in bronze, as the term was used by
the ancients, Phidias carried to unrivalled perfection. The Amazon,
the Minerva, at Lemnos, and in the Acropolis, were considered as the
masterpieces in this department. The last, called the Minerva Polias,
was of such majestic proportions, that the crest and helmet might
be discerned above the battlements of the citadel at a distance of
twentyfive miles, pointing home to the Athenian mariner, as he rounded
the promontory of Sunium. Of these and other works, descriptions
alone remain; we are consequently indebted for our positive knowledge
of his style and principles to the marble sculptures of Phidias, in
which department numerous admirable performances of his hand have also
perished; but we have here an advantage in the possession of undoubted
originals denied in every other instance.

Of the scholars of Phidias, the most esteemed were Alcamenes the
Athenian, and Agoracritus of Paros. Their real merit, however, is
matter of uncertainty, since their works are reported to have been
retouched by their master, who was likewise in the habit of inscribing
his statues with the names of his favorite pupils. Indeed, the
sublime style perfected by Phidias seems almost to have expired with
himself--not that the art declined, but a predilection for subjects
of beauty, and the softer graces, in preference to more heroic and
masculine character, with the exception of the grand relievos on the
temple of Olympia, may be traced even among his immediate disciples.
Among his contemporaries, indeed, Polycletus, the second of the
name, has been by some placed equal in grandeur of style, while by
others he has been described as unequal, to the majesty of the great
Athenian. Polycletus himself appears to have decided the controversy,
by showing, from the selection of his subjects, that his genius
carried him to the imitation rather of the beautiful than the great.
His most celebrated performances were the statues of two youths, both
nude, the Diadumenos and the Doryphorus, so called from their action
of binding the head with a fillet, and bearing a spear. The latter
formed the famous 'canon,' from which, as from an unerring standard,
all succeeding artists, even Lysippus, borrowed their proportions.
Among contemporaries, also, a most distinguished station must have been
occupied by Ctesilaus, since he contested with Phidias and Polycletus
the public prize of merit for a statue to be dedicated in the temple of
the Ephesian Diana. To this artist is erroneously ascribed one of the
finest specimens of art now in existence, miscalled, but best known as,
the Dying Gladiator, and which, more than any other ancient example,
discovers the most profound knowledge of the internal structure of the
human frame.

From the banishment and death of Phidias, which occurred some time
before his patron died of the plague, in the last year of the
eightyseventh Olympiad, the history of art is carried forward through
a period, one of the most stormy and unsettled in the Grecian annals.
He beheld the commencement of the Peloponnesian war, an event, indeed,
Pericles is accused of having at least hastened, in order to screen his
remaining friends from those accusations of which the sculptor had been
the guiltless victim. During thirty years of hostile commotions, the
arts flourished with almost unimpaired vigor, except that towards the
close of the contest, sculpture, which had naturally participated in
the fortunes of Athens, suffered a decline in this its capital school.
The spirit of the age generally, however, united with the sentiment
of hostility a more generous rivalry in excellence of every kind.
The grand and beautiful in art continued to be followed and admired,
while, amid the contention of arms, eloquence began to attain that
nervous elegance which yet renders attic oratory the finest model of
deliberative procedure. Even the less friendly interval which followed,
the establishment of the iron rule of Sparta--the ruin of the milder
and more splendid dominion of Athens--and, more disastrous still,
the war kindled by the ambition of Thebes, with the various isolated
struggles arising out of these leading events, appear to have produced
no material degradation in that heroic style, whose lofty character
harmonized with the strong excitement of contests for freedom or empire.

Of the artists who adorned this stirring era, the names of nearly
fifty, with descriptions of certain of their works, have been handed
down in the incidental notices of contemporary history, or in the
more detailed accounts of Pausanius, Strabo, and Pliny. Naucydes was
author of that beautiful figure holding a discus, and measuring in his
own mind the distance, of which antique copies remain, admired for
fine position, sweet variety of contour, and unaffected expression.
Leochares, Bryaxis, and Timotheus, assisted in the erection of the tomb
of Mausolus, where Scopas, superior to all others mentioned, presided.

Thus his age is fixed about the 102d Olympiad, or 370 B. C. To the
chisel of this eminent artist is ascribed the Townley Venus, or Dione,
now in the British Museum, as also the group of Niobe at Florence.
Grace, softness, and truth, were the characteristics of his style,
which may be considered as forming the intermediate gradation between
that of Phidias and those of Praxiteles and Lysippus; between the two
grand divisions of Greek sculpture, the schools of grandeur and of

In the era and labours of Phidias, we discover the utmost excellence to
which Grecian genius attained in the arts. From an examination, then,
of this excellence, we shall not only obtain a knowledge of that style
pronounced by the Greeks themselves to be their proudest achievement
in sculpture, but may also be able to elicit principles of the highest
general importance in the philosophy of imitative art. This inquiry
likewise demands attention, were it merely on account of the singularly
fortunate circumstances under which it can be instituted. Respecting
the most esteemed masterpieces of antiquity, reasonable doubts still
exist how far our judgments are formed upon real originals. But in the
marbles of the British Museum, the former ornaments of the Parthenon,
we certainly behold the conceptions, and, in some measure, the very
practice of the great Athenian sculptor. Both statues and relievos
compose these precious remains, one of the noblest bequests of ancient
to modern talent. The statues adorned the two tympana of the Parthenon,
which was amphiprostylos or double-fronted, consisting, besides
fragments, of fourteen groups, or seventeen figures, of the natural
proportions. The relievos are of two kinds, one of which formed the
inner frieze of the cella, and flat, representing the procession of the
Panathenean festival; the other, consisting of fifteen metopes of the
exterior peristyle, very bold, even to entire roundness in some parts,
the subject, combats of the Centaurs with the followers of Theseus,
appropriate to a national temple.

In these sculptures, the technicality is of unequal merit; but in
the design, the presence of the same mind is visible throughout. In
the statues, and in the frieze, of which nearly two hundred feet
still remain, the execution generally approaches so near the beauty
and grandeur of the composition, that we seem to trace not only one
intelligence, but one hand; in the metopes, again, a baldness of
rendering, utterly inconsistent with the fervid idea, is occasionally
perceivable. These contradictions would naturally arise from, and can
be explained only by, the fact that the master-spirit overlooking
the whole trusted the expressing of his conceptions to assistants of
dissimilar capacity. Of the intellectual character, grandeur is the
prevailing principle; the grandeur of simplicity and nature, devoid
of all parade or ostentation of art. The means are forgotten in their
very excellence, and in the fullest accomplishment of the end. The
ancient critics, who, in speaking of Phidias, seem to labour with the
power of those ideas awakened by the contemplation of his works, are
fond of comparing their effects to those of the eloquence of their most
accomplished orators. The comparison is happy. The sculpture of Phidias
might well be assimilated to Demosthenian eloquence, in the truth and
affecting interest of its imagery, and in its power of bearing the
whole soul along in our engrossing feeling. But the sternness and
the severity of the orator, the taking of the heart by force, attach
not to the artist; all is here sweet and gracious; we are willing
captives to the witchery of art. It is this union of the graceful and
the pleasing with the energetic and the great, which constitutes the
surpassing merit of the works we are considering. Exquisitely delicate
in the minute, in the grand, the style is bold, vigorous, and flowing.
Their author, to use the language of antiquity, united the three
characteristics of truth, grandeur, and minute refinement; exhibiting
majesty, gravity, breadth, and magnificence of composition, with a
practice scrupulous in detail, and truth of individual representation,
yet in the handling rapid, broad, and firm. This harmonious assemblage
of qualities, in themselves dissimilar, in their results the same,
gives to the productions of this master an ease, a grace, a vitality,
resembling more the spontaneous overflowings of inspiration than the
laborious offspring of thought and science.

The attentive study of the remaining labours of Phidias, and,
fortunately for the arts of Britain, their final abiding place is with
us, will supply a criterion by which to estimate the principles of the
beautiful in execution, and of the ideal in imitative art, as exercised
among the Greeks in the most splendid period of their refinement, and
will prove guides by which we may emulate, perhaps, equal, our masters.

In all that merely meets the eye, the marbles of the Parthenon display
the finest keeping, with the general nobleness of their intellectual
character. But the execution is perfect, simply because the composition
is so. It comes not forward as an independent merit. Its exquisite
mechanism operates without intruding. Unseen and unfelt amid the
intelligence it conveys, it is finally noticed as an harmonious element
of a perfect whole, and only then calls forth an especial admiration.
The finish is high, and even delicate, because the extreme beauty and
correctness of the design required to be rendered with corresponding
elegance and ease. The chiselling is at once detailed and vigorous,
harmonizing with attitudes and expressions full of vivacity, natural
grace, and dignity. The touch is broad, the forms decided--the marking
deep and firm, according with and increasing the general grandeur
and conception. The style of design, indeed, is, in the strictest
acceptation, learned, the parts being pronounced with a decision and
truth unequalled, we are almost inclined to say, in any other remain of

The ideal of Phidias is derived entirely from nature, as the true ideal
of art must ever be. Much has been said respecting the import of this
term among the ancients; and the words their writers have employed in
speaking of this very master, have been construed into meanings not
only inconsistent with, but subversive of, the principles of genuine
excellence. If, by the divine archetypes which he is reported to
have followed, be implied, that he copied after ideas not existing
in nature--living and tangible nature, the breathing works before us
attest, that whether ancients or moderns, these critics speak with
more zeal than knowledge. In the Elgin marbles, every conception
deeply participates of human sentiment and action, so intimately does
the representation belong to reality, that every form seems, by the
touch of enchantment, to have become marble in the very energies of
its natural life. This happy effect of truth, however, does not arise
from the imitation of common, that is, of imperfect types; neither is
nature the only real object of art, viewed through any medium of fancy,
nor imitated according to conventional or imaginative principles. The
artist has only looked abroad upon all existence, refining partial
conceptions and limited modes by the unerring and collected harmonies
of the whole. The true ideal, then--the ideal of Grecian sculpture, as
beheld in these its sublimest productions, is but the embodied union
of whatever of beauty and perfection still lingers among the forms of
nature viewed universally--free from individuality or accident. Truth
is thus the primary constituent of the ideal. Beauty is the perfect
expression of this truth, agreeably to the most unblemished and purest
models which general nature presents. In this union of collective
excellence and individual verisimilitude, the mind feels, and at once
acknowledges, a power of awakening and reflecting its own truest, best
sympathies. These principles are unfolded in their purest elements; and
the modes of accomplishing this union distinctly traceable by careful
observation on the style of Phidias. The forms are, in the first place,
composed with the most correct, but unostentatious science; hence
the freedom of their movements, the ease of their attitudes, seeming
to possess the same capabilities of momentary action as the living
models. In this anatomical knowledge, too, as actually displayed,
there is a truly admirable simplicity: the bones and muscles are,
indeed, pronounced with a firmness rare in antique sculpture, whence
chiefly arises the wonderful elasticity of the figures. All this is
unaccompanied with the slightest exaggeration; the divisions being
few, and masses large, the eye runs sweetly along the general forms,
yet finds wherewithal to be delighted in resting upon details. This
absence, or rather this unobtrusiveness, of all pomp of art, throws
over the whole an air of reality and of unsophisticated nature. But
with these essential qualities of merely imitative art, are united
perfect symmetry, the most harmonious contours, grand composition, the
most refined taste, and noble expression. This causes every figure
to respire an heroic and elevated character. Hence, we perceive,
that to base ideal upon imitative art--to address the imagination by
grandeur of design and perfection of form, while he appealed to the
judgment by fidelity of detail and correctness of resemblance--have
formed the objects of this great sculptor. The relations under which
truth and imagination produce results at once grand and interesting,
he has carefully studied and successfully rendered. Hence, while the
general composition breathes the loftiest spirit of ideal or possible
excellence, the means by which the sentiment is rendered are received
from individual nature, expressed simply, and without artifice. In
this happy and unobtrusive union of nature and imagination, in this
continually remounting, without convention or ostentation, to the
eternal sources of natural truth and beauty, Phidias displays the
real sublimity of art, and stands unrivalled among the masters of the
ancient world.


THE progressive change in sculpture, from a style of severe and simple
majesty, to one of more studied elegance and softer character, already
noticed as having commenced even in the lifetime of Phidias, received
its full developement under those masters who adorned the beginning
of the Macedonian empire. Various political and moral causes, without
decline of talent, might have contributed to this change, which is not
even so great, while it corresponds with, the contemporary revolutions
which, from similar origin, took place in manners and literature,
in the opinions and usages of the times. The annals of no nation,
also, can boast a distinguished succession of names, eminent in the
exercises of the very highest genius. Sublimity is, in its own nature,
a more simple sentiment than beauty, and the sources whence it springs
infinitely more limited. If, then, we find the true sublime in Grecian
sculpture confined to almost the age and the labour of one man, is this
to be wondered at, when the same is the case, not only in their poetry,
an art far more abundant in resources, but in the poetical literature
of every people? The sculptors, then, who followed the era of Pericles
to the death of Alexander, can be called inferior to Phidias, only
in the same sense as the poets who succeeded will be termed inferior
to Homer. In both instances, the change was but the application
of principles which in their essence could not vary, the subjects
requiring a modification of certain distinguishing qualities.

But an opinion opposite to this is more commonly entertained, namely,
that not till the improvements of Praxiteles and Lysippus, was ancient
art perfectly free from the rude and harsh of that early taste. A
glance, however, either to the Greek historians, or especially to
the remaining labours of Phidias himself, is more than sufficient
to show how utterly without foundation is this censure; and that no
other man has united in his style more of the highest excellences. It
is, in fact, this union which truly constitutes beauty in sculpture,
whose sources of pleasing and of moving, being new, and derived only
from the essential elements of design, form, and expression, admit of
separation or imperfection with peculiar disadvantage. If we examine
the Elgin Marbles in regard to those qualities considered as especial
constituents of the beautiful, we shall find how slight indeed could
be succeeding additions. More seductive grace, an air more elaborately
refined, may have been given to the female statues of Praxiteles; but
for that perfect beauty, which arises from including the essentials of
excellence in the most liberal proportion, we search successfully in
the labours of Phidias alone.

The views now taken of Grecian sculpture, in which we have divided the
subject into three schools, are thus proved to be correct. Two of these
have already been examined; the old school, which brought material
art almost to perfection, retaining only a degree of constraint, but
wanting the expression of mind; the Phidian, or sublime school, in
which the genius of art soared to its loftiest height. The third is now
to be considered, which, from the prevailing character of its principal
works, has been rightly termed the School of the Beautiful.

The discussions which have been so warmly agitated regarding the true
era of this school, seem entirely gratuitous. It is acknowledged,
that the greatest masters of whom this latter age could boast, were
Praxiteles and Lysippus, contemporaries, and both highly esteemed by
Alexander the Great. Coeval, then, with the commencement of the career,
and during the brief empire, of this prince, is to be placed the
brightest period in this last display of the arts and genius of Greece.
Many external circumstances concurred, with the encouragement given
by Alexander himself, to render his reign propitious to refinement,
science, and letters; while a reaction of opposite influences, on his
death, closed with that event both the progress of higher improvement,
and even the prospect of long retaining the knowledge possessed. In
sculpture, particularly, a visible decay of talent, and a neglect of
the exercise, soon after follow. Indeed, Pliny decidedly says, that
art from thenceforth ceased,--_deinde cessavit ars_. This expression
must be understood in a limited sense; there is no doubt, however, that
the causes of decline, whose consequences wealth, the complexion and
renewed energies of the times, had retarded, were then recalled into
more direct activity.

Praxiteles, born about the 104th Olympiad, or 364 B. C., was a native
of Magna Grecia, but of what town is uncertain. From preceding remarks
it will appear, that in praising him as an original inventor,--the
discoverer of a new style, writers very generally have mistaken the
influence exercised by his genius upon the progress and character
of sculpture. Finding the highest sublimity in the more masculine
graces of the art already reached; perceiving, also, that the taste
of his age tended thitherwards; he resolved to woo exclusively the
milder and gentler beauties of style. In this pursuit he attained
eminent success. None ever more happily succeeded in uniting softness
with force,--elegance and refinement with simplicity and purity; his
grace never degenerates into the affected, nor his delicacy into
the artificial. He caught the delightful medium between the stern
majesty which awes, and the beauty which merely seduces,--between the
external allurements of form, and the colder, but loftier, charm of
intellectuality. Over his compositions he has thrown an expression
spiritual at once and sensual; a voluptuousness and modesty which touch
the most insensible, yet startle not the most retiring.

The works which remain of this master, either in originals or in
repetitions,--the Faun,--the Thespian Cupid, in the Museum of the
capitol,--the Apollino with a Lizard, one of the most beautiful, as
well as difficult, specimens of antiquity, abundantly justify this
character. Of the works that have utterly perished, the nude and
draped, or Coan and Cnidian Venus of Praxiteles, fixed each a standard
which future invention dared scarcely to alter. Indeed, he appears to
have been the first, perhaps the sole master, who attained the true
ideal on this subject, in the perfect union of yielding feminine grace
with the dignity of intellectual expression. The Venus of Cnidos, in
her representative the Medicean, still 'enchants the world',

                                --and fills
  The air around with beauty: we inhale
  The ambrosial aspect, which, beheld, instils
  Part of its immortality; the veil
  Of Heaven is half withdrawn; within the pale
  We stand, and in that form and face behold
  What mind can make when nature's self would fail.

Lysippus of Sicyon the younger, contemporary and rival of the
preceding, appears to have wrought only in metal. Accordingly, in
comparing him with Phidias, Aristotle employs distinctive terms, which
both point out this fact, and would alone settle the needless dispute,
whether the latter wrought in marble. Of the 610 works, an incredible
number, ascribed to Lysippus, not one survives; for the Venetian
horses originally brought from Chios, by Theodosius the younger, to
Constantinople, and thence removed to St Mark's in 1204, are unworthy
of the artist's reputation. The bust at Portici requires also to be
authenticated, though of superior merit. Born in the lowest walks of
life, Lysippus was, in a great measure, self-taught, and commenced
his studies where the art itself had begun,--with nature. Though a
perfect master of beauty, his style appears to have been distinguished
by a more masculine character than that of the age. He was emulous of
reviving the grave and severe grandeur of the preceding school. This
predilection his subjects and materials would cherish, if not produce.
Colossal and equestrian statues of warriors in bronze, demanded a
forceful and vigorous composition, with sober and dignified expression.
The Tarentine Jupiter, sixty feet high, was in magnitude equal to any
undertaking in the ancient world; and twentyone equestrian statues of
Alexander's bodyguard, who fell at the Granicus, would alone have
sufficed for the labour of years to an ordinary artist. But not only
in great works was Lysippus famous; many of the most beautiful and
delicate description are recorded. His finishing was exquisite, his
imitation of nature faithful 'as truth itself,' and he especially
excelled in the knowledge of symmetry. He was so great a favorite with
Alexander, that to him alone permission of casting the prince's statue
was granted; and it may serve to prove how justly this admiration
of his own age was deserved, that centuries after, even the monster
Tiberius trembled in his palace at an insurrection of the Roman people,
occasioned by the removal from one of the public baths of a figure by

During at least forty years from the death of Alexander, the
school founded and presided in by these two masters would preserve
undiminished the beauty of the art. The latter was still alive on
the death of the Macedonian prince, in the last year of the 114th
Olympiad, or 324 B. C.; while Praxiteles survived to the 123d Olympiad.
If, again, we consider the pupils immediately deriving their science
from these great men, the period may be extended during which Greece
could have produced sculptors not unworthy her ancient glory. When
we contemplate also her condition in other respects, never had she
exhibited a more numerous or a more imposing assemblage of intellectual
worthies. Surely, then, the death of a despot could not have wrought so
fatal and so immediate a decline in the means and faculties of human
genius. No! but the consequences of that event destroyed an artificial
system, and dried up factitious streams of prosperity, which for a
time had supplied or concealed the absence of those healthful and
constitutional currents, whence was circulated, throughout the whole of
Greece, the very life-blood of her glory and greatness. Had liberal
institutions been then restored; had the moral vigour of her better
days reappeared, even amid wars and revolutions--in such struggles they
had been reared--her genius and taste, her letters and arts, would have
survived. These were innate in the constitution of her free states. The
last, in particular, formed at once a means and an end in her popular
governments. Springing up an ornamental blossom amid the sterner and
the nobler fruits of liberty, they withered as independence decayed.

We would not be understood as here maintaining a respectable and
amiable, but unfounded theory, that the fine arts have never flourished
except under popular governments, nor that they ceased with such
forms in Greece. In this, more than in any walk of genius, is the
active encouragement of the supreme power indispensable to excellence.
But never can the arts of taste flourish in true grandeur, where
patriotism and popular feeling are not the paramount, or at least the
apparently paramount, principles of the times, and source of their
peculiar cultivation. The arts themselves must be essentially free;
they must likewise derive their quickening inspiration from a national
sentiment of interest and of country. Pisistratus and Pericles, we
have seen, while rulers of Athens, were but superintendents of the
arts, in their application to public purposes, in unison with public
will, and in obedience to public approval. Even Phidias prepared with
trembling anxiety to receive the award of merit from the voice of
his fellow-citizens; and only on the supposition that they were to
undergo the ordeal of a close inspection before being placed in their
destined situation, can we account for the exquisite finish of the
Elgin Marbles, even in parts not exposed to the effects of climate.
Only when the purity of this source of honor was contaminated, did
art fall, never to rise again. Not till every institution belonging to
the republican ages of Greece; not till every sentiment of a generous
kind had been trampled upon; not till the Olympic games ceased,--till
the physical education and martial exercises of the youth were
neglected,--till the arts, separated from national polity, became
dependent on the caprice of individuals,--till there was no longer
public spirit nor patriotic feeling; not till all that creates and
endears the name of country had sunk beneath a foreign yoke or domestic
thraldom, did Greece cease to produce artists.

Again, the period of this decline extends through nearly two hundred
years, from the dismemberment of the Macedonian empire, to the final
reduction of Greece into a Roman province. This space of time, in
regard to the eras of Sculpture, has been variously and too minutely
divided. Each favorable turn of circumstances enabling the art to
recover a little, has been exalted into an epoch. Into these details
it needs not to enter. From the death of Praxiteles, or at least in
the school of his own and the pupils of Lysippus, as Cephissodotus,
son of the former, Tauriscus, Eubolas, Pamphilus, Polyceutas, Agasias,
and others, it does not appear that original works of magnitude or
beauty were produced. After this the labours of artists seem to
have been confined to copies of the works of the older masters, and
chiefly to making repetitions in marble of the ancient bronzes. To
this period belong many of the antique marbles now remaining. Pliny,
indeed, though not with strict correctness, considers that Sculpture
lay dormant during one hundred and twenty years, from the 120th to
the 150th Olympiad. The Achæan league, and the expiring efforts of
Greece under the last of her heroes, Aratus and Philopæmen, inspired a
degree of vigour into her intellectual exertions. Of these warriors,
contemporary statues are noticed by Pausanius; and the latter is
reported to have excelled in painting. But the Ætolian war broke for
ever the ties of country, and the sacredness of national glory. Temples
were therein first desecrated,--statues and paintings defaced in
Greece, and by the hands of Greeks. If, during the same era, we direct
our attention to the successors of Alexander in Egypt and Asia, we
find letters cultivated in preference to art; or, where Sculpture is
patronised, as at the courts of the Ptolemies and the Seleucidæ, the
cultivation of a taste between Grecian and barbarian only hastened the
progress of corruption. One bright interval yet arose in the parent
seats of refinement, upon the declaration, by the Romans, of freedom to
the states of Greece. Sculpture, for more than thirty years of apparent
liberty at least, and of real repose, was exercised with considerable
success by the masters, Antheus, Callistratus, Polycles Apollodorus,
Pasiteles, and others, possessing considerable merit, though far below
the genius of ancient times. This was the struggling gleam of the
expiring taper--the farewell sweet of a sun about to set forever. The
independence of Greece endured only by sufferance; the Achæan league
was dissolved, and Corinth and its capitol levelled with the dust, to
the sound of Roman trumpets--the knell of freedom and of the arts in


THE history of Sculpture in Italy divides into two distinct, yet
connected, subjects of inquiry, embracing two very dissimilar
dynasties--the Etruscan and the Roman. Of the former interesting people
we know far too little commensurate with their power, and the influence
which they appear to have exercised upon the spirit and progress of
ancient art. The Thyrreneans, or Etruscans, it is certain, possessed,
at a very early period, the empire of almost the whole Italian
peninsula, and, to a very considerable extent, whatever of refinement
existed in those primitive times. Respecting the origin of the nation,
however, and the sources of this intelligence, authors disagree; while
the scanty annals that have reached us, through the medium of the
Latins and Greeks, enemies or rivals, leave but too much scope for
unsettled opinion. The various systems here may be arranged under two
general heads; first, that the Etruscans were of Lydian extraction,
and under their king, Thyrrenus, settled in Italy at an era anterior
to authentic history: or, secondly, that the early colonization of
Etruria was owing to the wandering tribes from Greece, chiefly of the
Pelasgic race, who settled at different times prior to the Trojan war.
Neither of these opinions, singly, accords with contemporary, nor
explains subsequent events; combined, they account both for the skill
attained by the Etruscans in the arts of taste and civil government,
while Greece was yet in a state of pastoral rudeness, and also for
the subsequent interweaving into their history of Grecian fable and
mythology. We enter not farther into this disquisition, interesting as
it undoubtedly is. For our present purpose, it is sufficient to bear
in mind, that Sculpture in Etruria had attained a coeval, if not a
prior, degree of refinement as compared with Greece, and that regard to
preserving the unity of the subject has alone occasioned the precedence
in time given to the arts of the latter.

The remains of Etruscan Sculpture are not numerous, and of these the
authenticity of some may justly be doubted. Taken in general, the works
of national art consist of medals and coins; statues of bronze and
marble; relievos; sculptured gems; engraved bronzes; and paintings.

The first class is the most numerous, and contains many beautiful,
indeed, for those early ages, wonderful specimens. These are all
cast of a compound metal, being of two kinds, either mythological or
symbolical in their representations. Of the statues, it is difficult
to say whether those in marble be early Greek or Etruscan; the smaller
ones in bronze are more authentic, being household divinities, or
merely ornaments: of those in the size of nature, scarcely one has
escaped suspicion of its true age. One or two exhibit great beauty.
Of the ancient relievos found in various parts of Italy, several
are admitted to be genuine Etruscan; and here there can be little
hesitation, as a series of sepulchral monuments, sarcophagi, and
altars, might be arranged and compared throughout the whole period of
Italian history. Gem engraving was brought to great perfection at an
early period both in Greece and Italy. Of this minute but charming art,
probably the oldest specimen now extant represents five of the seven
chiefs who fought against Thebes. Of this the design is inartificial,
and the workmanship rude; other Etruscan gems, however, or _scarabæi_,
from their resemblance to the shape of a beetle, as the Tydeus and
Peleus, equal the most exquisite performances in this branch. The most
curious and numerous remains belong to the class of engraved bronzes,
or pateræ, small vessels used in sacrificing, circular, and, in the
single instance of the Etruscan, with a handle. On the bottom, inside,
which is perfectly flat, being merely a plate surrounded with a shallow
brim, there is usually engraved some mythological subject, of simple
design, expressed in few, bold, firm, and deep lines.

In the style of these remains, three distinct eras of art among the
Etruscans may be discerned. The first, or ancient style, commences
with the earliest notices of the people. It has been confounded with
the Egyptian and the Grecian; but the similarity is not greater
than characterises the infancy of invention among every people. And
though, apart, it might be difficult to discern their national or
original elements, considered in connexion with the style of the
following era, their distinctive character becomes apparent, of an
unfettered imagination, essaying its feeble powers by no systematic,
no conventional representation, arising, as in Egypt, from an impulse
foreign to art; while, from Greek sculpture of the same age, we clearly
distinguish the rudiments of new modes, and certain specialities in
the relations between fancy and feeling with nature. The vigorous
imagination, the bold forms and general tendency to exaggeration, which
may be traced even in its infancy, display in its perfection, during
the second epoch, the peculiar characteristics of Etruscan sculpture.
In the works of this age, there is strength, and massiveness, and
power; but they want delicacy of proportion, discrimination of
character, and graceful simplicity. The third epoch embraces that
period which beheld the gradual disappearance of the Tuscans as an
independent state from the face of Italy. Their political empire
was ingulfed in the extending dominion of Rome: the discriminative
character of their genius merged in the arts of the colonial Greeks;
when, as we have already seen, the schools of Rhegium and Crotona sent
forth masters equal, if not superior, to those of Greece.

These eras, in date and duration, nearly coincide with as many
revolutions in the political history of the nation. Their greatest
extent of territory was held but for a short time, being quickly
reduced on the south by settlements of the Dorian colonies, and on the
north by the Gauls and Ligurians. It was only during their diminished,
but secure and admirably constituted empire in Etruria Proper, that
their national arts flourished, and their national style was formed.
Each of twelve allied, but separately independent capitals, then
became a school of art, the friendly rival of her compeers--each
exciting the industry, and directing the advance, of the other--each
the Athens of ancient Italy. Inflamed by the brutal spirit of mere
conquest, the Romans broke in upon this tranquillity; and though, at
first, science proved more than a match for force, Etruria, with her
free institutions, her elective magistracy, her solemn insignia, fell
beneath their rude despotism.

Thus terminated, 480 years from the building of Rome, the only native
school of art in Italy; and that here sculpture had been cultivated
with no ordinary ardour, is attested by the fact of the Romans having
carried off from Volsinum alone no fewer than two thousand statues.
Even for some time after the subjugation of the Etruscan republics,
sculpture was practised; but it soon lost all national character. The
Roman dominion embracing the circuit of Italy, the Tuscan freeman and
the Greek colonist became alike its vassal; but their common masters
fostered not the arts as native ornaments--as moral causes in their
empire: they possessed merely sufficient knowledge to value the fruits
of genius as the harvest of conquest. The same spirit actuated their
subsequent conduct, when their victorious armies came in successive
contact with the richer treasures of Sicily, and of Greece herself.
Marcellus plundered Syracuse of her marble population, as a proof that
he had subdued her living inhabitants; and, from a still more sordid
motive, in which ignorance and avarice are disgustingly blended,
Mummius first began the work of devastation in Greece. A picture of
Bacchus, which the Corinthians, on account of its super-excellence,
were anxious to regain from the soldiers, who were using it as a table,
is said first to have excited his cupidity. From the vast sum offered,
the Roman general conceived the picture contained gold, which he might
perhaps discover when more at leisure; accordingly he delivered it to
a common messenger, with this sage menace, that he was to carry it
safely to Rome, under pain of being obliged to paint one equally good!
Such was the state of early republican taste, quite in keeping with the
national arts, sufficiently characterised by Tibullus, when he says:

  'In paltry temple stood the wooden god.'

Or by the opposition of Cato to the introduction of Greek statuary,
on the plea, that its divine forms would expose to ridicule the rude
fashioning of the Roman deities.

During the latter period of the commonwealth, attempts were
successively made by Sylla, Pompey, and Cæsar, to domiciliate the arts
in Rome. Their efforts, however, reached no farther than collecting
in that capital the sculptors of Greece,--thus doubly unfortunate,
as the place whence were torn the plundered ornaments of temples and
palaces, and as the nurse of that science which, in busts and statues,
was to immortalize the lineaments of her enslavers. The patronage of
Augustus, who could wield for his purposes the energies of the whole
enlightened world, necessarily proved highly advantageous to art, which
he affected to cultivate from patriotic and intellectual, but really
from those still stronger political motives. But of all the sculptors
of the Augustan age whose names have reached us, every one is Greek,
and chiefly Athenian. Pasiteles, Arcesilaus, Zopirus, and Evander, were
the most eminent. The arts, indeed, were revived; but the creative
spirit which infuses life and soul into their productions, which stamps
them with originality and thought, could not be recalled. The character
of design and of execution is evidently the same as that by which the
last era of sculpture in Greece is distinguished, or rather it is
superior; for settled government, ample reward, and certain honor, not
only drew to Rome every man of talent, but also awakened new powers.
But in the finest specimens, there is no evidence of new energies,
added by the union of two separate modifications of talent; nor in
the inferior, any exhibition of the more original, though it might
be ruder, efforts of an aspiring and distinct national taste. Either
or both of these effects would have been apparent, had there been
native, prior to this importation of Greek artists. On the contrary,
everything in the sculpture of this era discovers a descent from a
state of higher excellence; every touch exhibits rather what has been,
than presages the eminence for which we are to draw upon futurity. From
Augustus to Trajan, during a period of 140 years, the principles and
practice of the Greeks continue to be observed, with such difference
only as political causes can easily reconcile, but with a progressive
decay. The most favorable periods during this space were the reigns of
Vespasian, Titus, and Trajan; for the reign of Nero, whose taste, like
his morals, was corrupt, which Pliny has assumed as an epoch in the
Roman school, was propitious to practice, not to improvement.

With the reign of Hadrian, in the seventeenth year of the second
century, is introduced a new style of sculpture, which may properly
be termed Roman. Here the distinguishing characteristic is extreme
minuteness of finish, indicating the labour more of the hand than
the mind. The chisel, the file, the drill, have been plied with
ceaseless care, and great mechanical dexterity. Over the whole genius
and spirit of the art, is now diffused an air of studied and even
affected refinement, which smooths away every characteristic and
natural expression. For the sublime is substituted the difficult, the
florid for the elegant; and in every remaining specimen, we can readily
detect the taste which preferred a poetaster to Homer, or the laboured
inanities of the sophists to the vigorous and manly eloquence of
Demosthenes and Cicero.

The reign of the Antonines forms the last lucid interval in the arts of
the ancient world. The decline of sculpture from thence to the reign of
Constantine would be almost incredibly rapid, were we not enabled to
trace its progress in the monuments that yet remain. Beyond Constantine
it would not be difficult, but it would be useless, to carry our
inquiries. When an imperial master of the world is found pilfering,
from the monument of a virtuous predecessor, a few ornaments to deck
the record of his own triumphs, and which the whole ingenuity of the
Roman world could not supply, the annals of ancient taste may be closed.

Sculpture, it thus appears--and the remark is true of all the arts--was
never cultivated in Rome as a native acquirement, as an integral
element in national history. As political causes, too, the arts
scarcely operated, except merely in connexion with public monuments,
which were treated more as matters of business than of sentiment;
where the successful execution brought no accession of moral dignity
to the artist, and where the modes long formed were adopted with no
change, save that arising from decaying capabilities. Of all the
nations, indeed, who have held supremacy upon the earth, the Romans
show the poorest claims to originality; and have least impressed
the future fortunes of the human mind by any bold peculiarities or
successful darings of her own genius. In letters and in the arts,
they have bequeathed to posterity only modifications of the exquisite
inventions of Greece. In letters, indeed, they have improved upon
their borrowings, because in some instances they have imparted the
stamp of nationality;--not so in the fine arts. Yet even in the
former, the improvement extends only to the manner; the material
remains with little alteration, and no addition. The character of
Roman talent--manly and persevering, though not inventive--seemed well
adapted to succeed in sculpture, laborious in its practice, in its
principles grave and simple. Three causes chiefly opposed this success.
The Romans regarded the art as the peculiar eminence of a conquered
people. Hence they cherished no genuine enthusiasm for its excellences,
and no real respect for its professors--among them the fallen Greeks
or manumitted slaves. Secondly, their national manners were inclined,
while their spirit burned in its best energies, more to action and
business than to elegant accomplishment. As a more particular obstacle,
growing out of this general cause, the desire constantly affected of
being represented in armour, most materially operated against the
improvement of sculpture; and by shutting up the warm and breathing
forms of nature, gave at once origin and inveteracy to the evils of
harshness and incorrectness, in the early school, and in the latter, to
finical and ineffective laboriousness. Thirdly, the superlative beauty
of the finest labours of Greece, scattered with amazing profusion
throughout Italy, rendered their possessors indifferent to contemporary
and so conspicuously inferior works.

To this last circumstance, however, is principally to be ascribed the
only excellence to which Roman sculpture can justly lay claim, as it
proved mainly instrumental in directing attention to that particular
department. The busts of the Roman school, from Julius to Gallienus,
embracing a period of three centuries, exhibit a series invaluable in
the history of art, and in some instances capable of being compared
with the best of similar works of the first ages, without suffering by
the contrast. These do not, indeed, equal in heroic character one or
two remains of Greece, but they exhibit a more powerful representation
of individual mental resemblance. The soul of history absolutely seems
to inhabit and to breathe from the marble. Into every movement of the
countenance is infused an expression so speaking, so characteristic,
so full of individuality, that we seem to have set before us the very
actor in those deeds which have formed our most serious studies.
But this high perfection applies only to the termination of the
commonwealth, or does not extend beyond the reign of Augustus. As we
advance, the impress of grandeur of thought, and energy of purpose,
becomes obscured. This in part is no doubt owing to the decline of
power to represent; but the decay of internal nobleness in the subject
appears to have at least kept pace with the fall of material art; and,
in the words of Pliny, when there were no longer images of mind, the
lineaments of form also degenerated.

From a careful examination of the imperial busts,--for the jealous
fears of these tyrants soon forbade any others to be sculptured--we
derive our best knowledge of the Roman school. The style of design
during the first, or republican age, is distinguished by squareness
and vigour in the forms--decision of arrangement--boldness and firmness
in pronouncing the parts, accompanied with truth and great force
of general effect, but destitute of minuteness and accuracy in the
details. The mastery of touch, indeed, is frequently so daring, as to
be redeemed from the imputation of careless and unfinished only by the
vigorous meaning of every stroke. We detect the greatest deficiency
in those passing lines of thought and form, where little meets the
outward sense, but in which the science and feeling of the artists are
most surely displayed and most severely tried; the expression of the
eyes are studied, and the eye-ball, with intent to produce an imposing
look, is made larger than in nature. The hair, though skilfully
massed, and fine in distant effect, is particularly heavy; indeed,
the characteristic defect is harshness--an absence of those sweet and
flowing lines which bring the contour fully, but graciously, upon the
view. To the close of the first century, bold and facile execution,
and force of effect, continue to take the place of simple and accurate
design and natural expression--faults most conspicuous in the most
prosperous time, the reigns of Titus and Trajan, from the art being
exercised chiefly on architectural designs. In addition to the dry, the
hard, and laboured, the era of Hadrian is further distinguished by the
pupil of the eye having a deeply drilled orifice, and by the separate
parts of the countenance being marked with an affected and unnatural
depth. The busts of Aurelius are the last good examples. Under Severus
appears a singular affectation of marking the forehead, and even the
whole countenance, with furrows. Subsequently every reign displays more
decided retrogression, and the final disappearance of every redeeming


WITH the dawn of liberty in the republican cities of Italy, we hail the
reappearance of the arts. Before the close of the thirteenth century,
Pisa, with the neighboring cities of Etruria, the ancient seats of
elegance, had already made progress in sculpture. The founder of this,
the primitive school of modern Europe, was Nicolo Pisano. The works of
this master, and those of his scholars, still remaining in his native
city, in Sienna, Arezzo, Pistoia, Orvieto, and Lucca, induce a very
high opinion indeed of the progress of the age. In the succeeding
century, the art was carried by his grandson, Andrea, to Florence,
the future head and fountain of art. Here, in 1350, was established
the first academy of design; and before the close of the century,
sculpture was firmly established, and far from unskilfully practised,
throughout a considerable portion of Italy. Nor was this the limit
of the influence, though, as upon its centre, the eye of history is
fixed chiefly here. Fraternities of itinerant sculptors carried their
art over Germany and France; and even in England the works of this
early school have been traced. In these countries the numerous Gothic
edifices, with their sculptured ornaments, furnished rich occasions for
the exercise of the art; but from this very circumstance it ceased, in
a certain degree, to be regarded as independent of architecture. In
Italy, private excellence was better preserved, and is easily traced.
But it was union with the grand moral and political principles of free
constitutions, that in Italy at once gave dignity to, and cherished the
progress of, the arts. In the ancient world we bade a common farewell
to freedom and to genius, nay, virtue at the same time would have
winged her flight, had she not found an asylum on earth in the bosom of
Christianity. Upon the ages now passing in review, when Freedom again
rises, we behold genius also revive, as if the sweeter sensibilities
and the manlier virtues had together slumbered through the long long
night of ignorance and of despotism. It is thus that spring, breathing
on bank and wild wood, unchains the bud and the blossom from the
tenderest floweret to the hardy oak.

In the progress of intelligence, the fifteenth century constitutes a
splendid era. Advances were then accomplished in moral, intellectual,
and political knowledge, which form the ground work of no
inconsiderable portion of modern science. In the arts of elegance,
especially in sculpture, the labours of this age will always hold
distinguished rank. In the first year of the century, we find six great
masters--competitors for the same public work--the bronze folding-doors
of the baptistry at Florence: Brunelleschi and Ghiberti, Florentines;
Jacomo della Quercia of Sienna; Nicolo Lamberti of Arezzo; Francisco
di Valdambrino, and Simon dei Colle, Tuscans. The competitors each
afterwards became the head of a flourishing school. Ghiberti, a youth
of twentythree, was the successful candidate; and the work thus
assigned to his superior merit, occupied forty years of his future
life, remaining still one of the proudest triumphs of modern talent.
The subjects are upon panels in relievo, representing historical
passages from the Old and New Testaments, and the same which were
afterwards declared worthy the gates of Paradise.

This era may be styled the commonwealth of sculpture; no single master
so far excelling his compeers as to impress upon the art the stamp and
bearing of one individual style. But among this crowd of illustrious
contemporaries, Donatello, born in 1383, and already an eminent artist
at the age of twenty, stands forth pre-eminently conspicuous by the
magnitude and excellence of his own labours, as also by the number and
merits of his pupils. His performances, in almost every variety of
material, are scattered over all Italy; the best are in Florence, but
the equestrian statue of Erasmus, Duke of Narni, in that city, merits
attention as the first attempt of such magnitude in the revival of art.

The numerous scholars of Donatello may be divided into two classes.
The first comprehends those who, without producing much of their own,
have attained reputation as fellow-labourers in the most considerable
undertakings of their master. The legitimate disciples of Donatello,
however, consists of those who, without servilely following in the
train of their instructer, preserved, or even in some respects
improved, the science derived from his precepts. These include most of
the leading masters of the latter part of the century, for in every
town of importance he had left works and planted a school. After the
demise of Ghiberti in 1455, and of Donatello in 1466, the art was far
from languishing in the hands of their successors, and especially under
Andrea du Verrochio, towards the close of the century. In the academy
founded by the Medici, many of the most eminent men of the next century
are to be found, as yet youthful though not undistinguished pupils.

In reviewing the ages which have been made to pass before us in their
leading characters, the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, we
perceive, may be termed the infancy of sculpture; with the fifteenth
begins its manhood, while in some respects full vigour was attained
even at the close of this period. During the two preceding centuries,
we find views frequently derived from the antique, of which many
specimens were brought directly from the East to Pisa. A character
of truth and simplicity, faithful imitation of nature, and just
expression, visibly begin from the time of Nicolo, whose own style
indeed is remarkable for sweetness and absence of all pretension. The
effect is never daringly ventured, but is sought to be discovered by
patient reiteration of effort and persevering imitation. At first,
therefore, no acknowledged principles of taste or of composition can
be perceived; a degree of restraint and meagreness consequently long
pervade the early labours of sculpture. But if in these the creative
faculties have seldom been conspicuously exerted; if the fancy be
rarely excited by novelty or variety of invention, the heart, even in
the sculpture of the fourteenth century, is often awakened to deep
feeling by unexpected beauties of the sweetest power, arising from
a diligent imitation of nature. The art being chiefly dedicated to
devotion, and to the memory of departed virtue, an air of dignified
sincerity, a touching portraiture of the gentler affections, diffuse
over the mind of the spectator a melancholy yet pleasing serenity, to
be felt rather than described--which give back the images of our own
sensibilities in all their simple, unpretending reality. The succeeding
age assumes a style and character more elevated, without being less
true. The simplicity is refined--equally removed from affectation
as from poverty--the skill of hand great, the execution bold and
felicitous; yet still exercised as a means, never as an instrument to
astonish or surprise. Nature is imitated faithfully, under the least
remote appearances, and by the simplest expression--the manner never
allures from the subject. The great proportion of the sculpture of
this century being in bronze, may account for a style of execution
in some respects harsh, with a degree of restraint, and occasionally
defective in energy. As respects intellectual merits, the design is
always chaste, often extremely elegant; the composition judicious,
seldom contrasted or grouped artificially. The expression is sweet and
calmly dignified, for rarely is strongly marked passion attempted.
No decided aims at representation of abstract or ideal beauty can be
observed; the powers of fancy are never presumed upon--seldom roused
by remote associations. But the mind of the artist, now no longer
entirely engrossed in mechanical detail, or confined by difficulties of
mere representation, expatiates, selects, combines; if the forms and
conceptions are not invested with the sublimity of ideal elevation, the
beautiful models of real existence are imitated not unsuccessfully.
Were the extent and object of art confined to simple imitation, the aim
of the sculptor would now nearly be attained. Yet, judging even by the
principles of the most refined criticism, one department, during the
fifteenth century, acquired a perfection which has not been surpassed,
rarely equalled, in succeeding times. Donatello and Ghiberti, the
former in high, the latter in low relief, have left models which
it does not easily appear possible to excel. The best of these are
Donatello's, in the church of San Lorenzo, representing the most
memorable events in the life of the Saviour; and Ghiberti's, already
noticed, on the gates of the baptistry at Florence. The subjects seem
to have imparted to the genius of the sculptors a portion of their own
sacred dignity, and calm and holy feeling. Indeed, to the influence of
religious impressions, we attribute, to a great degree, the improvement
of sculpture during this age, the principal undertakings being from


NOTWITHSTANDING the very considerable attainments already exhibited,
to the perfection of Sculpture, there yet wanted greater ease and
grace of execution, more perfect and elevated expression, more refined
selection of form and composition,--more, in short, of that heightening
charm which fancy lends to reality--of that which constitutes the
poetry, not the fiction, of art. The first blush of the times, too, at
the commencement of the sixteenth century, seemed to promise a most
propitious era for the accomplishment of these remaining improvements.
In Italy, yet the only fixed and native seat of art, a spirit of
refinement and love of elegance, a high and general respect for art,
pervaded all ranks. Universal activity, also, and energy of character,
growing out of the conscious dignity of independence, animated the
republican cities. Each vied with its neighbour in the splendour of
public buildings, and in munificence of patronage. Florence, indeed,
from her peculiar advantages and superior opulence, sooner distanced
rivalry; but her schools were open to all, and her Medici, the most
enlightened of patrons, were as yet but merchants and simple citizens.
In those states, too, where free and popular government was not
established, kings and princes affected to love and encourage the
arts. Literature, in most of the countries of Europe, had spread its
lights around; the ancient models of eloquence were known, at least
in their precepts, to all who laboured in the fields of genius; and
even in sculpture, some of the most breathing fragments had been,
or in the course of the century, were restored to day. The stir of
spirit had penetrated even the recesses of papal domination and
priestly ease. Means of empire were now to be essayed more congenial
to the complexion of the times, and to the minds of men, than
spiritual weapons, unhallowed in every church, because unscriptural,
or than--more unjustifiable still, when wielded by ministers of
peace--secular arms. Rome was to be rendered the home and habitation
of art, as of religion. She was to contain a temple vainly hoped to
become the Zion of the Christian world. All these causes, favorable as
they were to general developement of talent, tended with a peculiar
energy to the advancement of sculpture, in which, with the exception
of poetry, the greatest progress had yet been accomplished since the
revival of intelligence. The path, too, which had here been pursued,
led directly to excellence. Nothing was to be unlearned. The era bore a
striking resemblance in its leading features to that of Pericles; there
was wanting only a Phidias to realize its expectancy; and in Michael
Angelo, the genius of Greece seemed to be supplied.

For three fourths of the sixteenth century, this extraordinary man
presided in the schools, and by his style influenced much longer the
principles of modern art. To him, therefore, during the most brilliant
period in the annals which we are now feebly endeavoring to trace,
is the attention chiefly directed. Nor only in one point of view, is
his genius to be contemplated. He has extended the grasp of a mighty
though irregular spirit over our whole subject. Sculptor of the Moses,
painter of the Last Judgment, architect of the Cupola--we behold in
him the greatest of the works of art. It is this, more than any other
circumstance, which has invested the character of his genius with a
species of awful supremacy not to be inquired into; discrimination is
lost in general admiration; and to him who thus seems to bear away the
palm of universal talent, we are inclined to concede the foremost
rank in each separate pursuit. His productions, thus dominating among
the labours of man, bewilder the judgment both by their real and their
apparent magnitude. Thus some giant cliff, rising far above minor
elevations, while it serves as a landmark to the traveller, misleads
his conceptions of its own distance and immediate relations of site.

Here it appears the proper, or at least simplest method, to present
such gradual unfolding of the subject as each branch separately may
seem to require, reserving a general view for such place as shall
give the reader full command of the joint influences, bearings, and
consequences of these details.

In sculpture, the works of Michael Angelo are divided between Rome and
Florence. They are not numerous, and few are even finished. Impatience
of slowly progressive labour, united with indomitable activity and
unwearied industry--fastidiousness of fancy, and exalted perceptions
of excellence, joined with a reckless daring in execution, form
singular distinctions of intellectual temperament. Hence have sprung
the characteristic beauties and the besetting errors of his style in
sculpture--a style discovering much that is derived from liberal and
enlightened study of the sublime and graceful in nature, but still
more of those qualities which arise from the peculiarities of an
individual and erratic, though rich and powerful, imagination. Rarely
do his statues exhibit that simplicity and repose essential to beauty
in an art--grave, dignified, or even austere, and possessing means
comparatively limited and uniform. Forced and constrained attitude,
proportions exaggerated, expression awful, gloomy, and unearthly, forms
of unnatural, of superhuman energy--these constitute the ideal of his
composition. In giving visible existence to these ideas, his execution
is most wonderful. A force, a fire, an enthusiasm, elsewhere unfelt,
unknown, give to every limb and lineament, a vitality, a movement,
resembling more the sudden mandate of inspiration, than a laborious
and retarded effort. The first impressions created by these works are
thus irresistibly powerful; but they startle, surprise, astonish--do
not soothe, delight, and satisfy the mind. An influence originating
solely in the imagination, and in which the sensibilities of the heart
have little interest, cannot long retain its power; the ordinary tone
of feeling returns, and amid the unquiet and aspiring composition seeks
for nature and repose.

If the productions and style of Michael Angelo be compared with the
great standards of excellence and of truth in sculpture--nature, and
the remains of ancient art, he will be found to have deviated widely
from both, or rather, perhaps, he has rendered both subservient to
his own particular views of each. He has created to himself modes of
imitation, which should in themselves claim a paramount importance,
independent of all archetypes; while these latter are connected with
the originals of reality, only as an intermediate step to the realms
of fancy. Hence, round a false, though gorgeous and imposing art,
his genius has swept a magic circle, within whose perilous bound no
inferior spirit has dared with impunity to tread. Unfortunately,
however, such was the fascination produced in his own age, when the
forcible and imaginative were admired above the simple and the true,
that his works became a standard by which the past was to be tried,
and the future directed. As a necessary consequence, a prodigious
and irreparable lapse was prepared for the art. The imitation of a
natural style will ever be productive of good; it will ultimately
lead to no imitation, by conducting to the primeval source. The very
reverse is the effect of following a guide such as Buonarotti, who
has departed from nature farther, we will venture to say, than any
great name on record, whether in literature or in art. Irregularities
and imperfections in almost every other instance of lofty genius, are
forgotten amid the deep-thrilling pathos, or soothing loveliness,
of natural expression; but amid the awe-inspiring, the commanding,
the overpowering representations of the Tuscan, the soul languishes
for nature. His creations are not of this world, nor does feeling
voluntarily respond to the mysterious and uncontrollable mastery
which they exert over it. The cause and progress of this dereliction
of nature can also be traced. He had marked the perplexities and
constraint under which his predecessors had laboured, in their
endeavors to unite the forms and expressions of living nature with
images of ideal beauty, overlooking the productions of classic
sculpture, in which this union is so happily accomplished: because to
his vigorous, rather than refined perceptions, its simplicity appeared
poverty, he fearlessly struck into a line of art, where all was to be

From the antique, besides simplicity, Michael Angelo has deviated in
another important, and, indeed, vital respect; a deviation, indeed,
which changes completely the very aspect of art. Of the two elements
of sculptural design--form and expression--the ancients selected
form as the principal object of their representation: the modern has
preferred expression, to which he may be said almost to have sacrificed
form; or rather, he has so contorted his figures, by the violence of
their emotions, that all is expression, and that of the most vehement
kind. Here, however, it may be asked, how far has prescription the
power to determine this matter? To this it may be replied, that not
only the associations springing from the most perfect of human works
were opposed to this choice, but also the internal proprieties of
the art favour the selection of the ancients. In sculpture all is
staid, enduring, actual; movement alone is the only passing object
of imitation. Expression, therefore, at least strong and individual
expression, as a primary characteristic--as destructive of symmetry,
and as implying an effort ungraceful, when connected with unyielding
materials, seems not a legitimate beauty of higher art. Indeed,
passion is inconsistent with the beautiful in form, or the dignified
in sentiment. A sweetly pleasing, a gently agitating excitement, or
a nobly repressed feeling, visible only in the resolve of soul, and
mastering of sorrow, is the true and the only proper expression in
sculpture. Grief alone seems to be admissible in its deepest pathos.

Considered in connexion with the impetuous style of his composition,
nothing can be finer than the execution of Michael Angelo. It
participates in, it harmonizes with, his ardent temperament of mind;
rapid, impatient, fervid, it seems to animate and create, rather than
form, the breathing conceptions. But taken alone, it discovers many
technical peculiarities and imperfections. From having sometimes merely
sketched, or, at most, modelled the subject in small, nay, in some
instances, with no other suggestion or guide, save the accidental shape
of the block, he struck into the marble. It was impossible, under these
circumstances, to avoid error. While the hand, the eye, the mind, were
thus in instant exertion; while propriety of expression and beauty of
outline, mechanical detail, and general effect, grandeur of the whole,
and propriety of parts, were at once to be studied, and that, too,
where each stroke removes what never can be again united--imperfection
was almost a necessary consequence. Hence the want of proportion so
conspicuous in many of his best works--in the Moses even; hence so
few finished; hence, too, his statues, like paintings, seldom present
more than one point of view. As regards more individual details; in
the salient lines of the contours, the circles have rarely their just
value, and the surfaces want their proper fulness. Partly to compensate
this deficiency in the advancing curves, partly as a characteristic
distinction, which consists in strongly pronouncing the muscles, the
retiring lines, or muscular depressions, are expressed in exaggerated
depth. Trusting to mechanical dexterity, also, and to a profound
science, he was frequently reduced to work without model, or reference
to the living form. This produces a rigidity, a want of feeling, and
a mannerism, in his best performances even, the commencement of those
conventional modes which finally superseded all diligent study of
nature, and led to the abandonment of every genuine grace of sculpture.

The style and character of composition now described is evidently
one of study and acquisition; we might therefore expect a gradation
to be apparent in the works from which we have deduced our remarks.
Accordingly, the earlier performances of the artist retain much of the
simplicity and truth of the fifteenth century, exhibiting, at the same
time, much of the better part of the qualities now described as the
peculiar characteristics of the school. These we are inclined, upon
the whole, to regard, if not the most splendid, as the most correct
examples of Michael Angelo's powers. His later and more important
labours present, in their full maturity, the peculiar modes of thought
and execution which constitute the principles of this era. A regular
gradation, however, is scarcely to be traced, since, in his very old
age, he perceived and lamented the brilliant but fatal errors of his
style; and, in the few works then finished, a degree of sobriety
and chasteness is observed. He saw and lamented, too late, the fall
prepared for sculpture.

Of the works of this master at Florence, the Bacchus, notwithstanding
the undignified expression of inebriety, is the most correct in its
forms, and the least mannered in composition. The tombs of the Medici
show much of whatever is most splendid, and what is most reprehensible
in the genius of their author. They might indeed be selected as special
illustrations of the general views just given. Every figure--there are
six--bears the strong impress of a spirit delighting in the great and
the wonderful--an imagination eager in the pursuit of untried modes
of existence, and a consciousness of power to execute the most daring
conceptions. Intelligence in science, breadth of touch, boldness of
manner, fearlessness of difficulty, unite to give life and movement
to attitudes the most remote from such as nature would voluntarily
assume, or graceful design select. Rome contains the most perfect and
the most wonderful of Michael Angelo's statues. The Pietà, or Virgin
and Dead Saviour, in St Peter's, finished in his twentyfourth year,
is not only at the head of the first division of his works, but, on
the whole, is the least exaggerated, and the most natural of all.
The Moses, on the tomb of Julius II., amid the creations of genius,
rises a solitary and matchless monument. Without model among the
productions of antiquity, it has remained inimitable and unimitated in
modern times. Neither in nature do we find its prototype: it is the
extraordinary conception of an extraordinary mind. Thus isolated by its
own peculiar sublimity of character, this statue exhibits a striking
resemblance of the imagination whence it derived existence. We behold
a being who awes, who subdues, yet who fails to interest--for with
such humanity entertains no communion of feeling. Here the sublime
is too exclusively sought in the vehement and the marvellous; every
effort is forced, every trait exaggerated, and the whole shows a daring
originality verging on the extravagant and the false. The solemn
majesty--the dignified repose--the commanding simplicity, admired in
ancient sculpture--those milder beauties which sentiment alone can
appreciate--those exalted and touching graces which arise from elegance
or nobleness of form--from refined and subdued expression--from
elevated yet genuine nature, in the Moses are looked for in vain.

Than Michael Angelo, no artist has ever exerted a more extensive
influence, or more deeply impressed his peculiar views, upon art.
Indeed, so much is this the case, that, during the sixteenth century,
not a single sculptor appears who is not to be ranked either as a
disciple or imitator. Even to this our own time, the influence in some
respect continues. In sculpture more than in painting or architecture,
though for the first he did less than for the second art, was his
genius paramount. Of contemporaries, then, and successors, from his
death in 1564, to the end of the century, the only distinction is
between those who imitated and those who studied under this great
leader. Among the most eminent of the former was Baccio Bandinelli,
a rival, who contended with less generous weapons than those of
talent: yet he must receive justice,--as a sculptor he is second only,
sometimes hardly inferior, to Buonarotti. Baccio di Monte Lupo was
an original artist of considerable power. Andrea Contucci founded
the school of Loretto. Francisco Rustici, an excellent founder, more
eminent still as the master of Leonardo da Vinci, carried the manner of
this school into France, dying at Paris in 1550. Giacomo Tatti, better
known as Sansovino, presided over the Venetian works of sculpture and
architecture with much reputation, having studied along with Michael
Angelo at Rome, whence he fled in 1527, on the sack of that capital
by Bourbon. He survived the great Florentine, and became founder of a
numerous and respectable school, where Cattaneo and Vittoria supported
the credit of their instructor: the latter perfected working in stucco.
In Milan, Agostino Busti, and Guglielmo della Porta, were highly
distinguished, especially the latter; as were also, in Naples, Marliano
Nola, and Garolamo St Croce. In these schools, however, we trace the
most rapid decay of the art, in simplicity and correct design, from the
splendour of the courts demanding employment of the arts on objects
of temporary interest, when rapidity was preferred to excellence of

Among the real disciples of the Florentine, the following were the
chief:--Raphael di Monte Lupo, a favorite pupil, who assisted his
master in the tomb of Julius, the greatest undertaking in modern
sculpture, if completed; Nicolo di Tribulo, an excellent founder, by
whom are the bronze doors of the cathedral at Bologna; Giovanni del
Opera, whose name is significant of his industry; Danti, the closest
imitator of his instructer. Ammanati subsequently transferred his
attention to architecture. Giovanni di Bologna, a Frenchman by birth,
an Italian as a sculptor, was the most eminent of all the scholars of
Michael Angelo; and, on the death of the latter, continued to be the
leading master in Europe till the end of the century.

Beyond the confines of Italy, the art had yet made few advances
worthy of notice; and what little had been accomplished was upon the
principles of the Tuscan school. Thus, at the close of the sixteenth
century, the genius and principles of Michael Angelo extended their
influence over the whole of Europe. During the last thirty years of
this era, however, the art had been on the decline. These principles
could be maintained only by that genius by which they had been
invented and matured; and by it alone could the errors of the system be
consecrated or concealed.


THE seventeenth century thus rose with few favorable presages for
sculpture. The Group of Hercules and the Centaur, set up in Florence
the last year of the former era, serves to show a considerable falling
off in the intellectual qualities, while it displays also many
improvements and facilities introduced into the technical principles
and modes of mechanical operation. These are the last beauties to
linger in the lapse of talent. External circumstances, also, both
moral and political, had become less favorable. The states of Italy
were either no longer alive to the same motives which had induced
a cultivation of sculpture, or, with the loss of liberty, had lost
also the desire of prosecuting the measures of public aggrandizement.
The ascendancy of painting, likewise, was hostile to the recovery of
a manly and accurate style of design in the sister art; while the
spirit of philosophical inquiry, which came abroad in the seventeenth
century, was inimical to the fine arts generally. It must, however,
be acknowledged, that the great sources of decline originated in the
state of the art itself. Indeed, when a high degree of excellence has
been attained in any art, a rapid and sudden retrogression will always
be found to indicate the operation of external influences; at the same
time, such falling off must always be preceded by, and is in part the
result of, internal corruption in the principles of composition or of

A crowd of undistinguished names followed the dissolution of the great
Tuscan school. And when at length an artist of decided talent appeared,
instead of retracing the steps of his predecessors, he struck into a
new path, conducting still more pronely to error. Bernini, born at
Naples in 1598, though immeasurably inferior to the mighty master of
the last century in majesty and energy of mind, possessed most of
the requisites for becoming one of the greatest of modern sculptors.
Unfortunately, he neglected, or was ignorant of, the species of
invention which belongs to an imitative art; and choosing rather to be
the founder of a sept, than rank among the fathers of regular art, he
employed his endowments only to throw a meretricious splendour round
the caprices of a silly and affected manner. His powers of execution
were wonderful, his fertility of fancy exuberant, but they were under
control neither of regulated judgment nor of manly taste. To Bernini,
the conceptions of ancient simplicity seemed poverty and meagreness.
The compositions of Michael Angelo he deemed more forcible, but too
severe in character. His aim consequently was, to erect a third style,
which should possess distinctive qualities, displaying greater strength
and energy than, to his taste, the former presented, while it surpassed
the latter in suavity and grace. In pursuit of these imaginary
excellences, he deviated, and by his talents or patronage carried
art along with him, still farther from the simple, the true, and the
natural. To produce effect, by whatever means of startling attitude,
voluminous drapery, forced expression, became the sole object of
study--means the most improper for sculpture. The works of Bernini are
very numerous, for his opportunities as master of the works to several
successive Popes were extensive. All are composed in the same false and
flattering taste.

Contemporaries were generally imitators. Algard and Fiammingo, however,
preserved the dignity of independent, and, in a certain degree, merited
the praise of original minds. The former has produced the largest, but
not the best, relievo of modern art; the latter is most happy in the
representation of children, which, to use the words of Rubens, 'Nature,
rather than art, appears to have sculptured; the marble seems softened
into life.'

To Bernini, who died in 1680, Camilla Rusconi, a Milanese, succeeded in
the throne of sculpture during the remainder of the seventeenth, and
a considerable portion of the early part of the eighteenth century.
Following the same principles as his greater predecessor, but with
talents much inferior, in the hands of Rusconi deterioration of taste
became proportionably more rapid, while the influence of external
circumstances was also adverse. Italy was already filled with statues,
and no undertakings of magnitude presenting, the art continued to
languish during the greater part of the last century, suffering both
from defect of principle, and poverty of means.

During the time that has elapsed, Transalpine sculpture scarcely
demands our notice. In France, we first discover the art separately
and extensively practised: for in other countries it was associated
with ornamental architecture. The expeditions of Charles VIII. and
the personal predilections of Francis, had introduced among their
subjects some knowledge of Italian refinement; and so early as the
middle of the sixteenth century, French sculptors of considerable
eminence appear. Jean Gougon completed the celebrated Fountain of the
Innocents in 1550. The works of a contemporary, Jean Cousin, show
some grace and delicacy, but want strength and correctness. German
Pilon assimilates very closely to the style of the Tuscan masters
in energetic detail, but is destitute of simplicity and natural
expression. Jacques D'Angouleme had merit, but not enough to warrant
the statement of native historians, that he defeated Michael Angelo in
a trial of skill. Towards the conclusion of this century, Giovanni di
Bologna filled the whole of France with the principles of his former
master; and his own pupils continued to maintain similar, though
inferior, practice to the golden age of refinement in France--the
reign of Louis XIV. Of this school, two artists, Girardon and Puget,
claim to be the head. The former, though we cannot say with Voltaire,
'il a égalé tout ce que l'antiquité a de plus beau,' has yet great
merit. His manner of design, with a degree of hardness, is yet noble,
and though cold, is more correct than that of his contemporaries,
as appears from the tomb of Richelieu. Puget, in every respect the
opposite as to intellectual temperament, is the favorite of his
countrymen. _Sculpteur_, _Architecte_, _et Peintre_, as they, after
the historian of Louis XIV., are fond of representing him, for the
sake of comparison with Buonarotti, though what he painted, or what he
built, does not appear, is yet not dissimilar in the fiery energetic
character of his composition, and in his handling, bold and full of
movement; but his expression is studied, his science inaccurate, his
forms wanting in nobleness and grace. Sarasin was a most esteemed
contemporary, and, in the Caryatides of the Louvre, has equalled the
best sculpture of France. To the schools of the two first mentioned,
however, and especially of Puget, in style at least, are to be referred
the succeeding artists of France, as Les Gros, Theodon, Le Peintre,
Desjardins, Coysevaux Vaucleve, the two Coustous, all flourishing
at the close of the seventeenth, and during the early part of the
eighteenth century. The last of this list is Bouchardon, under Louis
XV.; for though his unfortunate successor inclined to patronise talent,
the excesses of the Revolution proved not less injurious to living art,
than destructive of ancient monuments. Among the latest works previous
to this horrid outbreaking, was the statue of Voltaire, by Pigal, now
in the library of the Institute, and upon which the following severe
epigram was composed:--

  Pigal au naturel represente Voltaire--
  Le squelette à la fois offre l'homme et l'auteur.
  L'[oe]il qui le voit sans parure étrangère
  Est effrayé de sa maigreur!

Bermudez, the historian of Spanish art, enumerates a splendid list of
native sculptors from the commencement of the sixteenth century. This,
however, is scarcely consistent with the fact, that not till 1558, in
consequence of a royal edict, was this esteemed a liberal profession,
or admitted to any privileges as such. It is easy to perceive indeed,
that national partiality, or that adventitious magnitude which every
subject is apt to acquire in the estimation of the writer, has led, in
this instance, to consider as artists, those who have with remarkable
success been employed in ornamenting the fine ecclesiastical edifices
in Spain, beyond which they are little known. Berruguete, a pupil of
Michael Angelo, appears to have founded the first regular school, of
which Paul de Cespides was the ornament, as he is of the national

Before the seventeenth century, Germany makes no appearance in a
general history of sculpture; and even now she is more celebrated for
her writers on the philosophy, than for her artists in the practice,
of the art. Still the genius of the nation we should be inclined to
estimate as highly favorable to its future advancement. In Vienna,
Rauchmüller; in Silesia, Leigebe; at Berlin, Schluter, Millich,
Barthel, and others, have proved this estimate not unfounded. While our
more immediate contemporaries, Ohnmacht, Sonnenschein, Nahl, the two
Shadofs, especially the younger, whose Spinning Girl is one of the most
exquisite imitations of simple nature which modern art can show, do not
discourage this hope; if indeed artists be not carried away by that
unnatural striving after marvellous effect, which has wrought so much
injury to common sense and right feeling in German literature.

On reviewing the history of modern sculpture during its rise and
perfection, to the decline immediately antecedent to the present
century, we find that, from the commencement of the fifteenth century,
when the art began to rank among national causes of exertion and
feeling, progress towards perfection, and in the most direct path, was
rapid. Hence it has been the singular distinction of the sculptors
of this period, to have left models in their own works, while their
previous discoveries enabled those who immediately followed also
to produce models. They have thus remained original in an age of
originality. During the sixteenth century, causes more remotely
connected with real patriotism--an ostentatious desire of splendour,
not an unaffected love of refinement--operated in the promotion of
the arts; and in Sculpture, in particular, the artificial excitement
imparted a portion of its spirit to its effects. From the age of
Michael Angelo inclusive, we find that the desire of novelty, a
continued endeavor to extend the boundaries of art, by the introduction
of imaginary perfections inconsistent with its real character and
excellence, were the rocks on which was made fatal shipwreck of truth,
of simplicity, and of beauty. These imagined improvements were directed
to the acquisition of two grand objects. A style of composition was
aimed at, more purely ideal, less connected with nature, than is to
be found in the remains of the ancient, or in the works of the early
modern masters. Genius hovered on the very confines of credibility
and of the impossible, deriving the elements of its creations from
imaginings awful and imposing, embodied in forms of gloomy sublimity
and power, overwhelming--not awakening--to the human sympathies.
As characteristics of this imaginative style, the proportions are
enlarged, the expressions forced, and action and energy are given,
destructive of grace and reality. Art is raised to regions where nature
is unknown, and where the very highest exertions of intellect and fancy
could hardly sustain interest. This was more especially the style of
the Tuscan school, and it fell with its great founder, who had placed
the art on this dangerous height. But, in the second place, sculpture
was sought to be assimilated to painting, and merit was estimated by
the extent to which imitation was carried--in difficulty and variety
of effect, in complicated detail, in volume of drapery, and, latterly,
even in facility of production. This taste first began decidedly in the
school of Bernini, and exclusively cherished the powers of mechanical
execution, in preference to the unobtrusive but essential beauties of
purity and correctness of design. Hence the rapid decline; for statues
soon became merely confused masses of drapery, without drawing, and
without science. Still the chisel was wielded with great mechanical
dexterity; but before the middle of the eighteenth century, every moral
beauty, sentiment, truth, feeling, had disappeared from the labours of
the sculptor.


ART has never been reformed, after a lapse from high eminence, by
mere imitation of examples, however excellent; nor by only following
rules for the correction of error. It is here as in morals, example
succeeds where precept would fail. Some mind of uncommon firmness and
good sense is required, who, beginning with nature, brings to the
work of reformation original powers and severe judgment; fancy and
feeling, with correctness and cultivated taste: one, in short, of those
rare minds whose merits, great in themselves, become incomparably
greater viewed with the times in which they commenced their career;
whose exertions, wonderful in their own accomplishments, are yet more
admirable from the progress which thereby others have been enabled to
effect. Such a genius was that possessed by Canova, a name venerable
alike for virtue and for talents. Born, in 1757, in a distant and
otherwise unknown hamlet, in the territory of Treviso--fallen upon
evil days in his art--of the most obscure parentage, destined to fill
the humble and laborious occupation of village stone-cutter--remote,
in the first instance, from every advice and assistance, he rose to
be the companion of princes, the restorer of art, and the generous
patron of merit friendless as his own. We know not whether more to
love or to admire Canova. In his fifteenth year, repairing to Venice,
the cloisters of a convent supplied him, through the benevolence of
the good fathers, with a work-shop; and only fifteen years afterwards,
through a struggle of poverty, yet redeemed by prudence and industry,
and sweetened by independence, he erected in St Peter's the monument
of Ganganelli--the first fruits of a spirit, whose sobriety of
temperament, more valuable and more rare than mere original invention,
here exhibited a correctness which would amend, with a vigour which
would elevate, a fallen age.

A series of more than two hundred compositions, of which this was the
first, standing itself nobly conspicuous, yet only a step from previous
imbecility, presents too extensive a field for particular description,
or minute examination. The remembrance is yet fresh upon our memory,
when, arranged in a funereal hall, representations of these works
might well have been deemed the labours of a generation; and while
now about to describe the originals, we bear in recollection, that to
view these a considerable portion of Europe has been traversed. Thus
numerous, and widely extending the influence of their style, these
productions certainly, require careful notice. Avoiding details, then,
we shall class them under Heroic subjects; Compositions of softness and
grace--Monumental erections and Relievos.

The superiority of Canova, has been questioned in the first of
these departments only. He has been admitted a master of the
beautiful--hardly of the grand. Or rather, perhaps, while his claims
have been universally recognised in representing the softer graces
of loveliness, his powers in the sublimities of severe and masculine
composition are less generally appreciated. This estimation is unjust,
having been originated and maintained by causes entirely extrinsic to
the genius or labours of the artist. In not one, but many groups and
single statues, he has attained some of the loftiest aims of sculpture.
In manly and vigorous beauty of form, the Perseus; in forceful
expression and perfection of science, the Pugilists--a work, in its
peculiar range, one of the most classical of modern art; in harmonious
and noble composition, uniting nature and poetic feeling, the Theseus
combating the Centaur; in the terrible of sentiment and suffering,
the Hercules;--these, with the Ajax, Hector, Paris, Palamedes, all
belonging to the grand style of art, may challenge comparison with
any works of the modern chisel, in the beauties of sustained effect,
learned design, boldness yet exquisite delicacy of execution; while as
to number, the series here is unparalleled in the history of any single
mind. In the majestic or venerable realities of portraiture, again,
there is Napoleon, Pius VI., Washington, Ganganelli, Rezzonico.

In the second department, the compositions of Canova have enriched
modern art with the most glowing conceptions of elegance and grace;
raised, and yet more refined, by the expression of some elevating or
endearing sentiment. Here, indeed, has been allotted his peculiar
and unapproachable walk. Yet it may justly be doubted, whether he be
not superior in the former class, where his merit has hitherto been
denied or doubted. True, one or two works in the second, as the Venus
recumbent, the Nymph, and Cupid, are superior, as examples of beauty
and grace, to any one of masculine character which might be compared
with them; but, as a class, the second is less uniformly dignified and
excellent than the first. The great defect here, indeed, is a want of
dignity in the female figures; which, though equally removed from the
flimsy affectations of his immediate predecessors, as from the robust
and austere proportions of the Tuscan school, are not always free from
the meagre and the cold where grace is to be united with sweetness.
This seems to be occasioned by a want of harmony between the just
height and roundness of the forms--from an absence of those firm, yet
gracious contours, meeting, yet eluding the eye, rounded into life
and dissolving in the animated marble, which render, for instance,
the Medicean so incomparably superior to the Venus of Canova.
Throughout the whole of this class, there frequently runs a character
of composition too ornate--too elaborately pleasing, and which would
appear still more decidedly, were it not accompanied by inimitable
ease, and were not every part, even to the minutest ornament, an
emanation of the same refined taste and cultivated mind. It is this,
chiefly, which spreads their delightful charm of consistency over these
works; there is, on close examination, little derived immediately and
simply from nature. Every choice has finally, but not obviously, been
determined after much thought and many trials. All is that perfection
of art, by which art itself is best concealed, and which to its
creations lends the enchantment of nature's own sweetest graces.

In the monumental series of works, Canova displays all the practical
excellences of his genius, with more, perhaps, of originality and
simplicity than generally characterise his other labours. This class
consists of architectural elevations, supporting colossal statues, and
of tablets in relievo. Of the former, the tombs of the Popes at Rome,
of Alfieri at Florence, and of the Archduchess Maria Christina at
Vienna, are magnificent examples. The second constitutes a numerous and
very beautiful class, which, though composed of nearly the same simple
elements of design, a female figure, or a genius, in basso relievo,
mourning over a bust or an urn, yet exhibit much diversity of character
and arrangement. From each of these an example might be selected in
the tomb of the Archduchess, and the grand relievo of the O'Hara
family mourning over the funereal couch of the deceased daughter and
wife--equal to anything in the whole compass of art. To those who deny
the merit of Canova in relief, we recommend the study of this monument.
The former, representing a procession bearing to the tomb the ashes of
the dead, is one of the most arduous and noblest compositions extant;
and, judging from our own impressions, no record of mortality ever
better accomplished its purpose, whether to awaken regret for departed
virtue, or to tell, by its own perfection, that in man there exists an
intelligence which shall survive beyond the grave.

Although, from the series of works briefly mentioned, it would not be
difficult to prove Canova the most indefatigable--nor, when we consider
their influence, the principles they are calculated to enforce, and
the fallen state from which they rescued art, the most respectable--of
modern sculptors; yet, in estimating truly the rank and constituents
of his genius, there is no small difficulty. The very fertility of
that genius, diffusing its richness over every province of the art,
and, in each varied exercise, constantly displaying the same judgment
and taste, increases this difficulty, by blending into one harmonious
and regular effect, those outbreakings of peculiar energies usually
accompanying, and indicative of, great powers. Hence the character
of his mind might be pronounced, at first, as distinguished rather
by correctness than by force. Yet, of his talents generally, such
would be an erroneous estimate. His mind was deeply embued with both
fire and enthusiasm; his imagination, uncommonly active, was stored
with materials, but over the treasures thus lavishly poured forth by
fancy, severe scrutiny was held by the understanding. Energetic, and
even rapid, in composition, in correcting, and finally determining, he
was slow and fastidious--often changing, but always improving. Such
intellectual organization is by no means favorable to that grandeur
usually associated with highest genius, which frequently hurrying alike
the artist and spectator beyond reality, derives its very mastery from
daring disregard of rule, grasping, with dangerous hardihood, those
lofty graces, pardoned only when successful; and even then, however
they may elevate the individual subject or artist, not enriching art
with useful examples or solid acquisitions. But a mind thus constituted
was eminently fitted for correcting public taste, especially in
the serene majesty, the orderly magnificence, which compose the
true grandeur of Sculpture. Hence Canova is uniformly dignified
and consistent; correct without coldness, if he rarely attains the
highest sublimity; neither does he fall beneath himself, nor into the
extravagant. Compared with the ancients, many of his works remind us
of more than merely casual imitation; but it is no less true, that in
others of novel invention, he has applied, in not unsuccessful rivalry,
their own principles, the discovery of which forms his highest praise,
as constituting one of the most essential services ever rendered to
Sculpture. Among the moderns he claims pre-eminence, as the first who
established improvement upon genuine and universal precepts of art.

The perfection to which Canova seems to have aspired in the ideal,
appears to have been the union of the two elements of sculptural
design, keeping each in just subordination to beauty. Hence, in his
figures, form does not, as in the antique, constitute so entirely the
primary, and almost sole thought, neither is it so much subservient to
action and effect, as in the most eminent of the modern masters. In
like manner, the expression holds an intermediate character between the
unmoved serenity of the ancients, and the marked lineaments of Michael
Angelo. In some instances this union is very happily accomplished; but
generally, though always true, the expression is not often simple. The
only defect which can be discerned in Canova's selection of form, and
which is more especially to be found in his female, is a meagreness
and want of vigour; sometimes they too much remind us of the individual
model, and of those manners of life whence such models are usually
obtained. But speaking universally, the contours of this master are
full, flowing, and well sustained. And here we can discover the same
principles of design and practice which were pointed out in the best
era of the Grecian schools, with this novel precept, the discovery, or
at least uniformly successful application, of which belongs to Canova,
namely, that all grand parts may be resolved into a primary and two
secondary forms. As this ternary combination is sweetly, yet decidedly
marked, blending yet separating its constituent lines, the graceful
ease and infinite variety of natural outline is obtained. In every
statue of the modern, also, we find exemplified the principle adopted
from Phidias, and already noticed, namely, that from whatever resources
of imagination any figure may be composed, the final surface--all that
meets the eye at last--must be finished, and faithfully imitated from
individual nature.

There is still one characteristic which pre-eminently distinguishes
those works we are examining, namely, the exquisite beauty of
composition. They unite the dexterity and force which constituted
the peculiar praise of the masters of the sixteenth century, with a
delicacy, a refinement, and truth, exclusively their own. This is an
excellence of the highest import--not so much in itself as in its
consequences--for it can be introduced with good effect only when
the nobler elements of composition are present. A statue defective
in the higher qualities of art, would by high finish become only the
more ungracious: works of unblemished merit only admit with advantage
of elaborate technicality. Hence, among the ancients, the perfect
statues, in all other respects, are also the most highly wrought.
This excellence Canova seems to have been the first to remark and
to emulate, which he has done successfully, especially in the most
difficult parts--the extremities.

In short, when we view Canova in himself and in his works singly,
isolated from the age that preceded, and separated from that which now
follows his own, in concentrated energy and originality of mind, he
may hardly compare with Donatello, still less with Buonarotti, perhaps
not with our own Flaxman; but when we estimate his genius in the
varied, yet uniform excellence of his labours, in the principles upon
which these are conducted,--when we recollect the state of degradation
in which he found, and the elevated condition in which he left art;
and remember, too, that his own works and practice between these
extremes, were marked by no false splendors of talent, but must prove
a shining light, guiding to yet higher attainment; we must pronounce,
in truth and gratitude, that none other name is in merit so inseparably
associated with the progress of sculpture.

Since the death of his illustrious contemporary, Thorwaldsen, born at
Copenhagen, 1771-2, has occupied the public eye as head of the modern
school. The character and powers of this master are doubtless of a very
elevated rank; but neither in the extent nor excellence of his works,
do we apprehend his station to be so high as sometimes placed. The
genius of the Danish sculptor is forcible, yet is its energy derived
more from peculiarity than from real excellence. His ideal springs less
from imitation of the antique, or of nature, than from the workings of
his own individual mind--it is the creation of a fancy seeking forcible
effect in singular combinations, rather than in general principles;
therefore hardly fitted to excite lasting or beneficial influence upon
the age. Simplicity and imposing expression seem to have hitherto
formed the principal objects of his pursuit; but the distinction
between the simple and rude, the powerful and the exaggerated, is not
always observed in the labours of the Dane. His simplicity is sometimes
without grace; the impressive--austere, and without due refinement. The
air and contours of his heads, except, as in the Mercury--an excellent
example both of the beauties and defects of the artist's style--when
immediately derived from antiquity, though grand and vigorous, seldom
harmonize in the principles of these efforts with the majestic
regularity of general nature. The forms, again, are not unfrequently
poor, without vigorous rendering of the parts, and destitute at times
of their just roundness. These defects may in some measure have arisen
from the early and more frequent practice of the artist in relievos.
In this department, Thorwaldsen is unexceptionably to be admired.
The Triumph of Alexander, originally intended for the frieze of the
government palace at Milan, notwithstanding an occasional poverty
in the materials of thought, is, as a whole, one of the grandest
compositions in the world; while the delicacy of execution, and poetic
feeling, in the two exquisite pieces of Night and Aurora, leave
scarcely a wish here ungratified. But in statues, Thorwaldsen excels
only where the forms and sentiment admit of uncontrolled imagination,
or in which no immediate recourse can be had to fixed standards of
taste, and to the simple effects of nature. Hence, of all his works,
as admitting of unconfined expression, and grand peculiarity of
composition, the statues of the Apostles, considered in themselves, are
the most excellent. Thorwaldsen, in fine, possesses singular, but in
some respects erratic genius. His ideas of composition are irregular;
his powers of fancy surpass those of execution; his conceptions seem to
lose a portion of their value and freshness in the act of realisement.
As an individual artist, he will command deservedly a high rank among
the names that shall go down to posterity. As a sculptor, who will
influence, or has extended the principles of the art, his pretensions
are not great; or, should this influence and these claims not be thus
limited, the standard of genuine and universal excellence must be
depreciated in a like degree.

We have hitherto made little or no mention of British sculpture, for
two reasons. The number of ancient monuments of the art with which
the cathedrals of England, and Westminster Abbey in particular, are
ornamented, is considerable: yet very little is known regarding their
authors. There is reason to believe, however, that by far the greater
part are the work of foreigners, members of those confraternities
of itinerant artists, which have been noticed as existing in Italy
so early as the middle of the fourteenth century. This opinion is
corroborated by the circumstance, that the object in these societies
was to undertake buildings in whatever country, and for this purpose
were composed of architects, sculptors, workers in mosaic, builders,
designers, each strictly attending to his own department, except the
architect, who seems to have acted as the general overseer. Thus,
companies of individuals, more or less numerous, were engaged by the
proper ecclesiastical authorities, wherever a building of magnitude
was to be erected. Of this, the plan appears uniformly to have been
prescribed by the ecclesiastics, the foreign masters superintending
and availing themselves of local assistants for the mere workmanship.
Again, between the early productions of sculpture in England, when
these first attract notice by their excellence, we very decidedly trace
the style, and in some instances, as in the beautiful monuments of
Eleanor, queen of Edward I., the designs of the school of Pisa. About
this time, the very improvements introduced by Giovanni da Pisa, son of
Nicolo, especially in the drapery, are decidedly apparent in those and
other English works. Hence, although we find English names mentioned
as masters of the works in several of our most splendid erections,
and even in one instance as sculpturing the images of saints, it is
doubtful whether they were not the ecclesiastics directly employed by
the chapter to communicate their plans to the actual artificers. But
it must also be observed, that the natural consequence of introducing
foreign art would be to create native artists. There can be little
doubt, therefore, that many of the really fine monuments of our Henrys
and Edwards, during the fifteenth century, are the works of home-bred
talent. During the sixteenth century, again, we do certainly know
that two Italian sculptors, Cavallini, and especially the celebrated
Torregiano, were in England, when the latter erected the monument in
Henry VII.'s chapel, for which he received so large a sum as a thousand
pounds. Henry VIII., again, had for his master of works an Italian
sculptor, John of Padua, scholar of Michael Angelo. In 1615, we at
length find a work erected by an Englishman, the monument of the 'good
Thomas Sutton,' by Nicholas Stone; and, towards the conclusion of
the same era, lived Francis Bird, a native of London, whose labours,
however, only show the miserable state of art. Sculpture has never been
practised as a separate branch in the early history of Scotland, who
appears to have obtained her masters rather from France than Italy. In
both countries, our first historians have been most culpably remiss in
attention to the progress of native art. On the present occasion, to
attempt a detailed account of the scattered notices they have left us,
or, what might prove still more satisfactory, an examination of the
rich remains we possess, would be irrelevant, as we touch merely upon
the general history of the arts, in which our own isolated labours,
even at best, form only an episode.

Not till towards the conclusion of the last century can there properly
be said to have existed a school of British sculpture. Cibber,
Roubilac, Scheemakers, Carlini, Locatelli, Rysbrack--all the sculptors
who flourished in England during the greater part of the eighteenth
century, were foreigners. It is well that the fame of our good and our
brave finds a memorial in the records of history, and in the breasts
of their countrymen, more worthy of their virtues than these men have
often erected, in the noblest, too, of our temples. Now, British worth
can be commemorated by British art. Our native school of Sculpture may
be considered as commencing with Banks, born in 1738, died in 1805;
for Wilton, as an artist, was educated abroad. In power of modelling
few have excelled Banks, whose name merits eulogium, and is mentioned
by foreign writers as among the very few at Rome, who, previous to
the appearance of Canova, presented in their works the dawnings of
reviving art. Bacon, born in 1740, was in every respect an English
artist, and we may almost say self-taught. In simplicity his works
have great merit; they are often wanting in feeling. Bacon was not
unacquainted with the literature of his art. Proctor and Deare died
too early for the arts, after they had given evidence of the highest
abilities. Deare has indeed left works, young as he was, not surpassed
by any in modern art. We approach our more immediate contemporaries
with respectful diffidence, and shall touch only upon the merits of
those who are removed from the effects of praise or censure. Nollekins
knew his _art_, but wanted _science_, dignity, and fancy. Flaxman
belongs to posterity, and has more widely extended the influence
of his genius--more intimately connected his labours with general
improvement, than any other English sculptor. Towards the propitious
revolution which rescued the arts from utter imbecility, in the latter
end of last century, he largely contributed, by his learned, powerful,
and simple style. From 1787 to 1794, he continued in Italy; and had
his sojourn been longer, he would have divided not unequal honors with
the great reformer of taste. This is known and acknowledged by the
intelligent critics of that country, of whom one of the most judicious,
Count Cicognara, thus writes:--'To Flaxman our obligations are very
great, since, as far as our acquaintance with his works extends, they
served nobly to elevate from a certain monotonous lethargy, and to
create afresh, that taste for the severe and golden style of antiquity,
which he applied to his own inventions.' From his youth, Flaxman was
distinguished by the strength of his genius, by devotion to the study
of the ancient models, and by fearless but judicious disregard of those
conventional affectations by which art was disgraced. He was among
the first, if not the earliest, to awaken the long dormant energies
of sculpture, to unite anew art with nature. The simple and the grand
of antiquity he made his own; nor, since the best ages of Greece,
do we anywhere find, in the works mentioned in these pages, greater
meaning, more deep feeling of truth, with less pomp of art, than in the
sculpture of Flaxman. The wonderful designs from Homer, the statues of
Mr Pitt and Sir Joshua Reynolds, the monuments of Montague, Howe, and
Nelson, the group of Michael and Satan, will alone fully justify this
character. If, in the works of this master, a defect may be pointed
out, it is an excess of the severe and simple, which nearly approaches
to harshness. Surpassing both Canova and Thorwaldsen in the loftiness
of his conceptions, and perhaps in classic purity of taste, in the
graces of composition, and the facilities of modelling, he is inferior
to the former. But in all that constitutes the epic of the art, Flaxman
is not surpassed.

We must omit with regret, though not unadmired, the names of living
English artists. To their honor be it remarked, that, at this
moment, in rectitude and sobriety of precept, in the walk which has
hitherto been followed, where nothing is yet to be unlearned, and
which must infallibly conduct to higher perfection, no school in
Europe can boast of happier auspices, of more vigorous practice,
nor of sounder principles, than the British school of Sculpture.
In Italy, the numerous--we may say universal--imitators of Canova,
appear to be following, with exaggerated effect, the only failing
towards which his style inclines--elaborate grace. In Germany, the art
languishes for want of encouragement. Sculpture is more pre-eminently
the nursling of freedom. The French sculptors are, at the present
time, more distinguished for science than for feeling or invention.
They want individuality of character in their works; the symmetry
and proportions, the mechanical art of antiquity, their chisel has
transferred,--but the sentiment, the essence which unites art with
nature, which breathes into Grecian statuary the breath of life, has
escaped. It is a singular fact, that from the school formed under the
empire, while the most valued treasures of existing art were collected
in the French capital, not a sculptor, hardly one artist of eminence,
has issued. The cause is plain. These monuments were torn from their
resting places by the hand of violence; they were viewed by a vain
and mistaken people as the trophies of victory; but they were never
venerated with that enthusiastic yet humble devotion, with which the
disciple regards the sources of knowledge. During a shorter period, how
different have been the effects of our own unsullied and bloodless
collection. Since the public exposition of the Phidian Marbles, in
particular, every department of taste has been improved, and every
artist has been ready to exclaim, with the late venerable president,
that till he saw these works, he was ignorant how much of his art he
had yet to learn. Let the British sculptor, then, continue in the same
principles as have heretofore guided his practice; let him follow
nature, and these the noblest remains of art in existence, and he
must excel. Sculpture seems especially calculated to flourish amongst
us. The grave and manly character of the art agrees with the tone of
national genius, harmonizes with our free institutions, and may find in
our history sources of the brightest inspiration.




IN the present undertaking, two methods of arrangement are obviously
presented: either to treat the arts simultaneously; or, considering
each in succession, to commence with that one which seemed best adapted
to illustrate the history and common principles of all. With this view
we have, in the commencement, followed the fortunes of Sculpture at
some length, because here we find an uninterrupted series of monuments;
here the elements of imitative art are discoverable in their purest and
least compounded character; and also because in Sculpture the labours,
being enduring, of greater magnitude, and more generally employed
for national purposes than those of Painting, seem more clearly to
illustrate the connexion which will ever be found to subsist between
the refinement of taste and the progress of moral and political
intelligence, as affects nations, or the human race universally. This
is the truly dignified object in the history of the fine arts. In this
respect our inquiries have been most satisfactorily resolved. We
have found the state of sculpture an index of the moral and political
condition of the people; owing its best cultivation to national and
popular causes. We have seen it languish or revive according to the
energy and the freedom of national institutions. The epochs of painting
were nearly or altogether the same, as were also those of architecture.
The conclusions, then, are universal. Little, therefore, remains to be
explained in painting, save its own peculiarities as an individual art.

Painting, which depends upon illusion for some of its most striking
effects, and employs principles abstractly unreal, is, in the
application of these principles, and in the full accomplishment of
their effects, an art of greater difficulty than Sculpture. Hence, _a
priori_, it might be inferred, that the former would more slowly attain
to the perfection which it reached among the nations of the ancient
world. But perhaps it would hardly have been predicted, that, in the
age of Phidias, when sculpture had already been raised to an elevation
yet unapproached, the sister art should still be little advanced. At
the same time, there can be no doubt that the elements of both arts
have in all countries sprung up together. Nature has sown the seed, but
circumstances nourish the plants.

Among the ancient inhabitants of Asia, painting and writing appear to
have been the same art, or rather, the former supplied the place of the
latter. From the same source the art arose in Egypt, where are still to
be found its oldest remains. In this branch the mental and political
despotism already explained, bound down every aspiration. Whether we
regard the art as picture writing, or in its more determinate and
independent efforts at representation, we discover no change--no
progressive improvement, and no superiority which has not evidently
arisen from a greater or less degree of care and personal skill in the
performer. Egyptian painting seldom, if ever, attempts more than an
outline of the object, as seen in profile, such as would be obtained
by its shadow. To this rude but always well-proportioned draught,
colors are applied, simply and without mixture or blending, or the
slightest indication of light and shade. The process appears to have
been, first, the preparation of the ground in white; next, the outline
was firmly traced in black; and, lastly, the flat colors were applied.
The Egyptian artists employed six pigments, mixed up with a gummy
liquid, namely, white, black, red, blue, yellow, and green: the three
first always earthy, the remaining vegetable, or at least frequently
transparent. The specimens from which we derive these facts, are the
painted shrouds and cases of the mummies, and the still more perfect
examples on the walls of the tombs. It can furnish no evidence of
extraordinary experience or practice, that these paintings still retain
their hues clear and fresh. The circumstance merely shows the aridity
of the climate, and that the coloring matters were prepared and applied
pure and without admixture.

Over no part of ancient intellectual history hangs there so great
uncertainty, respecting at least the means and progressive steps, as
in the instance of Painting in Greece. We can judge here only from
inference, while the facts upon which our conclusions must rest, are
in some degree contradictory. No production of the Grecian pencil
remains to us, as in sculpture, whence to form our own judgment apart
from the opinions of ancient critics; while there is internal evidence,
that the historical annals handed down to us, imperfect as these now
are, have been compiled, not from authentic materials early collected,
but from recollection of names to whom discoveries are by the later
historian casually attributed. The whole account of early painting
is too regular, too systematic, the progressive advances follow
each other in an order too artificial to represent faithfully the
alternate failure and success, the devious course, the rapid and almost
inexplicable advance of genius. The young eagle tempts not the liquid
way in steady flight, commensurate only with his strength--he flutters
and falls--wavers in broken and ungraceful curves, before he can launch
into full career, or circle slowly and majestically in his pride of

We do not doubt, then, that the names of the earliest painters handed
down to us in the Greek and Roman writers, are correct; but the
system of gradual and regular advance which they have connected with
these names, seems inconsistent with the nature of human things. In
this case, the only safe method that can be adopted, consistently
with the intention of giving every useful information, is to select
a few leading and well ascertained dates, between which it is proved
that certain discoveries did take place; the interval will thus be
sufficiently filled up without entering into minute discussion.
Anticipating this arrangement, we have been full in our account of the
early schools of sculpture, whence the deficiency here may be supplied;
for in both arts, the locality is always, and the masters frequently,
the same.

The first painting on record is the battle of Magnete, by Bularchus,
and purchased by Candaules, king of Lydia, for its weight in gold,
or as some say, a quantity of gold coins equal to the extent of
its surface. This establishes the first era, 718 B. C. During five
centuries, however, the art had previously flourished in the cities
and islands, and especially at Corinth, whose situation, commanding
the two seas that wash the shores, and connecting by land the grand
divisions, of Greece, early rendered that city, with the commercial
states already noticed, the seat of wealth and refinement. Practised by
numerous masters,--as Eucherus, Hygenon, Dymas, Charamides, Philocles,
Cleanthes, Cleophantes,--painting, in this interval, is reported to
have passed through various gradations; as, simple skiagraphy, or
shadow painting; the monographic style, consisting of a simple outline;
monochromatic compositions, in which one color only was employed; and
polychromatic, where a variety of hue, but without shading, was used.
During the same time, there appear accounts of minor improvements, with
their authors assigned, all of which we reject, as already stated. In
what manner the work of Bularchus was executed, does not appear; but
there is every reason to believe that it was merely a monogram, and,
from the contemporaneous state of sculpture, very highly finished, in
a style hard, dry, and ineffective. The price paid is by no means the
criterion of absolute excellence;--the work might be fully prized as
the master-piece of its own remote age, while the laborious minuteness
of its details might render the sum not more than a compensation for
the time bestowed.

To select a second era sufficiently marked by addition or revolution
of principle, is difficult. To the age of Phidias, the art continued
certainly to improve, but very slowly, being left far in the rear
by Sculpture. The genius of this consummate master, who indeed had
originally commenced his career as a painter, extended to all the
arts; and, under such an instructer, his brother Penænus, very highly
distinguished himself, though vanquished in a contest for the public
prize, then instituted at Delphos and Corinth. From the middle of the
fifth century, then, a decided movement commences in the history of
painting,--a preparation for something still greater. The influence
extended among the able contemporaries of the great sculptor.
Polygnotus of Thasos then first succeeded, to borrow a phrase, 'in the
expression of undescribed being,' and whose pictures Pliny admired six
hundred years afterwards. Improvement was carried forward for half a
century by Mycon, famous in horses; Pauson, his rival; Dionysius of
Colophon, praised by Ælian for minute accuracy; Aglaophon, bold and
energetic; Colotes, sculptor and painter; Evenor, father of Parrhasius;
and finally, greatest of all, Apollodorus the Athenian, who invented
or perfected the knowledge of light and shade. With this artist, the
precursor and contemporary of Zeuxis, and whose discovery may be placed
about the commencement of the fourth century B. C., may be terminated
the second era. The propriety of this division will more obviously
appear, when it is considered that to this period, not only was the
art deficient in the most powerful of its means, the magic of chiar'
oscura, but also in its instruments. The ancient paintings, as late
as the age of Phidias, were executed with the _cestrum_, a species
of pliant _stylus_, similar to that used in writing. This is the
diagraphic, or linear method, and seems to have resembled our chalk
and crayon, or perhaps more closely our pen and reed drawing. The
process, however, can be explained only by conjecture. The tablet,
primed in white, was laid over with a varnish of resin mixed with wax,
and usually incorporated with a dark-reddish coloring matter. Upon this
the subject was traced, and the lights worked in with the cestrum of
various fineness. At what precise period this imperfect instrument was
superseded by the pencil, or if the effects of the two were combined,
is unknown. But the invention must have been made after the death of
Polygnotus, and prior to the ninetythird Olympiad, a period of twenty
or thirty years, when Apollodorus is known to have handled the pencil
with great effect. It is not unlikely, therefore, that this artist
either was the inventor or the improver of this tool, whose mastery so
decidedly ministered to his reputation.

The third period commences with Zeuxis, marking an era distinct at once
in principle and in excellence. Preceding masters had crowded their
tablets with numerous figures. He introduced simplicity of composition,
and relied upon the perfection frequently of a single figure to
concentrate interest. He was equally simple in his coloring, never
using more than four, often only two pigments. Parrhasius equalled the
former in expression, and seems to have surpassed him in coloring.
Euphranor was equally celebrated in painting as in statuary. Both were
surpassed by Timanthes, who, in veiling the head of a father compelled
to attend the sacrifice of his daughter, appealed to the heart not in
vain, when the powers of genius had failed. Eupompus, by the splendour
of his style, gave rise to a new distinction of schools into the
Athenian and Sicyonian, in addition to the Asiatic, the Rhodian, and
the Corinthian. Theon of Samos obtained high praise for the eager haste
of his young warrior to join the fight. Aristides of Thebes, in his
picture of the wounded mother, solicitous, in the pangs of death, lest
her child should suck blood, appears to have reached the utmost range
of expression in art. And lastly, Pamphilus the Macedonian, eminent for
the natural feeling and truth of his style, was the master of Apelles.
This era, embracing about the first half of the fourth century,
coincides with the commencement of the Phidian age in painting.
Whatever might have been the merits of preceding masters, Zeuxis was
certainly the first from whose works we derive explicit statements
of the ideal in Grecian painting. This ideal, as in their sculpture,
was immediately derived from reality; it was no farther the creation
of fancy, than as taste and imagination were employed in selecting
and combining what was good in particular, towards an approach to the
best, in general nature. 'Behold,' said Eupompus to Lysippus, when
consulted by the young sculptor on the subject of imitation, pointing
to the passing multitude, 'Behold my models: from nature, not from art,
must he study, who aspires to the true excellence of art.' Zeuxis,
then, first discovered or practised the grand principle in the heroic
style of painting,--to render each figure the perfect representative
of the class to which it belongs. There is reason to believe, also,
that he taught the true method of grouping; at least, from the manner
of description adopted by Pausanias, it would evidently seem that
in all pictures anterior to this age, the figures were ranged in
lines, without any principal group on which the interest of the event
was concentrated. Even so late as the works of Panænus, the brother
of Phidias, the different distances were represented by the very
inartificial and ungracious means of placing the figures in rows one
above the other. In all his improvements, Zeuxis was more than followed
by his able contemporaries. It is a singular and an amusing fact, that
at no time do we find more real talent in art, combined with so much
ridiculous coxcombry in the personal character of artists.

The fourth and last epoch of painting in Greece commences with Apelles,
about the conclusion of the fourth century B. C. This age witnessed
both the glory and the fall of ancient art. Apelles united, in his
own style, the scattered excellences which had separately adorned the
performances of his predecessors. It was this power and equability of
combination, arranged and animated by an elegance and refinement of
taste peculiarly his own, which constituted the just eminence of this
master. From the descriptions of ancient writers, the character of
his style must have closely resembled that of Raphael, while their
choice of subjects appears to have been nearly similar. The Venus
of Apelles, long afterwards purchased by Augustus for one hundred
talents, or £20,000 sterling, was esteemed the most faultless creation
of the Grecian pencil, the most perfect example of that simple yet
unapproachable grace of conception, of symmetry of form, and exquisite
finish, in which may be summed up the distinctive beauties of his
genius. He alone appears to have practised portrait painting in the
full majesty of that art; this, indeed, does not appear to have been
a branch the most cultivated among the Greeks, who preferred busts.
Hence, while Pausanias enumerates eightyeight masterpieces of history,
he mentions only half the number of portraits, which he had seen in his
travels through Greece, during the second century.

The contemporaries of Apelles were Protogenes, an excellent artist,
whose merits his generous rival first pointed out. He was blamed for
finishing too highly; yet, to obtain possession of one of his pictures,
was the chief cause of the siege of Rhodes. Nicias, who is reported to
have touched up the statues of Praxiteles--in what manner is not known,
nor was Canova successful in his researches on this subject. Somewhat
later lived Nichomachus, Pausius, Ætion, the Albano of antiquity, and
others, with whom the art began to lapse. The causes and progress of
this decline have already been traced in the history of sculpture. The
remarks there are applicable to both arts, but peculiar circumstances
rendered the progress of decay more rapid in painting. Even in the
later contemporaries of the great ornament of the art, we discover a
falling off from the great style, to one exactly resembling that of the
modern Dutch school. Although the best pictures, from their greater
rarity, were more highly valued in pecuniary estimation than statues,
yet the art was never so completely national as Sculpture. The ambition
was not cherished, nor the talents of painters directed, by the
nationality of their performances; the general taste was not fixed by
public and venerated monuments, consequently the wholesome restraints
of public opinion operated but slightly, and were speedily withdrawn.
Be it also remembered, that the standard here was formed after the
severe purity of ancient taste, and morals had suffered sad relaxation.
Hence painting was sooner abandoned to the caprice of private patronage
and judgment; but the whole framework of her institutions, moral and
political, was to be dissolved before sculpture,--which honored the
forms of her religion; whose labours were publicly dedicated to the
renown of her good, her learned, and her brave,--could cease to be
regarded with national sympathy in Greece. Pausanias mentions the names
of one hundred and sixtynine sculptors, and only fifteen painters;
while, after three centuries of spoliation, he found in Greece three
thousand statues, not one of them a copy, while he describes only one
hundred and thirtyone paintings. The empire, then, of ancient painting,
appears to have been of brief continuance, for, beyond the age now
under review, no memorials of its greatness remain. The Romans prized
this, as they have been shown to value every accomplishment in the fine
arts, as ministering to luxury, and as a worthy employment for their
slaves. In the early portion of their iron reign, Etruscan captives
decorated their houses--subsequently itinerant Greeks; and though we
find a few names of Roman painters, we never find it carried among them
beyond mere embellishment. The moral dignity of the art never revived.

One difficulty regarding the history of ancient painting still remains
to be stated--satisfactorily cleared it never can be--namely, the
perfection to which the art actually attained. It has been said, and
the remark is just, that there exists a wide disparity between the
means and instruments of the art, as described by writers of antiquity,
and the excellence of the effects produced, as these have reached us
through the same channel. We have, it is replied, the criticisms of the
same writers upon other subjects of taste, with the originals likewise
in our hands, and finding here their opinions correct--not only so,
but exquisitely correct--we are constrained to admit, that in painting
their judgment was equally refined as in poetry, oratory, sculpture,
or architecture. This reasoning may prove relative, but not absolute
excellence; for taste being necessarily formed upon the very models
on which it passes sentence, cannot be admitted as evidence beyond
its experience. Our own conviction is, that, unless in this view of
merely relative beauty, the praises bestowed by the Greek and Roman
writers upon their paintings are overcharged; and that these were much
inferior to their sculptures. This opinion is founded not upon any
alleged inferiority of means, for, besides the difficulty of exactly
comprehending certain passages on this subject, we do find, that the
ancient artists were armed with all the powers of fresco-painting,
in which the grandest conceptions of modern talent are embodied.
But these very descriptions, in many of which are accounts of very
complicated expression, show that the writers, and especially Pliny,
the most circumstantial, either did not truly feel the nature and
object of beauty in painting; or they evince, that if such effects were
attempted, the art was devoid of that simplicity and natural expression
which constitute the primeval source, the all-pervading principle,
of beauty and of grandeur, of truth and excellence, in antique
sculpture. But again, if, from the few and very imperfect remains of
ancient painting, any conclusion be allowed in reference to its higher
state, we discover in these all the principles, especially those of
form, common to sculpture, always well, often admirably understood,
while those peculiar to painting are inartificially expressed, without
firmness or decision.

These remains consist, first, of the delineations upon vases,
improperly called Etruscan, where the pictorial representations
are monochromatic shadows and outline, or monograms, executed with
the _cestrum_, or style, in black, upon a red or yellow ground, or
sometimes the order of the colors is reversed. Even these support the
views just stated; for, vigorous as are the lines, the representation,
on the whole, is inferior to the abstract perception of the beautiful
in form, as exhibited in the vases themselves. The second division of
remains are the frescos, or stucco paintings of Herculaneum, Pompeii,
Stabia near Naples, and those in the baths of Titus at Rome. The former
were doubtless executed by itinerant Greek painters, who are known
to have been very numerous under the empire. The latter were most
probably the performance of the best artists that could be procured;
yet we do not discover an intrinsic difference of style which can bear
against our general conclusion, or rather the similarity proves the
fact, while in Herculaneum every sculptured ornament is infinitely more
elegant than the paintings found in the same spot. To these might be
added some very imperfect sepulchral remains, found near Tarquinia,
which merely prove that the ancient Etruscans were far from ignorant
of painting. In the pictures at Naples and Rome, is greater variety of
coloring than, from some passages in their writings, has been allowed
to the ancients. And, indeed, unless Pliny be supposed to point out
a distinction in this respect between the practice of the earlier and
later painters, he contradicts himself; for in all, he enumerates no
less than five different whites, three yellows, nine reds or purples,
two blues, one of which is indigo, two greens, and one black, which
also appears to be a generic expression, including bitumen, charcoal,
ivory, or lamp-black, mentioned with probably others.

Occasional allusion has been made to the mechanical modes of operation
employed in ancient painting. On comparing the different passages
allusive to these, two things certainly appear: that a permanency
was given to its productions unknown even in modern art; and that
oil-painting, properly so termed, formed no part of its practice.
Laying aside, then, all conflicting opinions, we are disposed to infer
that there were three principal methods; first, Distemper employed
on stuccoed walls, and for pictures not moveable; second, Glazing,
when the picture, after being furnished in water-colours, crayons, or
distemper, was covered with a coat of hard and transparent varnish, of
which several kinds are described; and thirdly, Encaustic, when the
coloring matters actually incorporated with wax, or preparations of
wax, were thus applied in a liquid state, and when finished, allowed
to dry, and most likely afterwards varnished also. In these two latter
methods were executed the most excellent pictures of the great masters,
and which were portable. The last has given rise to much needless
discussion, as if resembling enamel, the colors being burnt in. We
apprehend, however, the Greek and Latin verb here used, merely denotes
that the tints were laid on hot, which, from their nature, must have
been absolutely necessary, while it is evident, from scattered hints,
that the material painted upon was destructible by fire.


FALLEN as was every liberal pursuit during those ages, since
emphatically called dark, painting was yet never unpractised in Europe.
In the ecclesiastical records of that period, evidence is found that,
in Italy, churches were in every century decorated with paintings and
mosaics by native or Greek artists. A kind of competition, indeed,
appears to have been carried on between the successive pontiffs,
imitated by their inferior suffragans, who should thus load some
favorite cathedral with the greatest quantity of barbarous finery.
These gentlemen, as even the Abbate Tiraboschi has ventured to
disclose, being rarely ornamental to the church in their own proper
persons, endeavored to make up the deficiency in the best way possible
by proxy. From monuments still remaining in Germany, it is evident,
that neither was some degree of skill wanting in that quarter. In
France, as in our country, similar research would probably be rewarded
with the same discovery. Though darkened, the human spirit was still
at work; and when at length its energies were restored to comparative
activity by the slow operation of causes, imperceptible in themselves,
mighty in their results, the arts, as already seen, shone forth among
the morning stars in the dawn of freedom. This light first arose upon
Italy; and, from the circumstances of her situation, Florence soonest
established a school of painting. Cimabue, her citizen, early in the
thirteenth century, caught the inspiration from certain Greek painters,
employed by order of the magistracy. Equalling his masters, he was
himself surpassed by Giotto, once a shepherd boy; in turn excelled
by Memmi, Orgagna, Ucello, Massolino, to the middle of the fifteenth
century, when all former names were forgotten in the merits of
Massaccio. Dying at the age of twentyfour, he gave to painting truth,
expression, light, and shade; thus creating the first era in its
history. The chapel which still contains his frescoes, the early school
of Da Vinci and Buonarotti--the scene, too, of the latter's misfortune,
will long be visited with interest by the pilgrims of art. About the
same time, the invention of oil painting, ascribed to Van Eyck of
Bruges; and, not long after, the illusion of aerial perspective added
by Ghirlandajo, gave to modern art all the means of perfection. These
did not remain unimproved in the hands of such men as Verrocchio, first
excelling in perspective, Lippi, Signorelli, in whose works evidence
of selection is apparent, and many others, who, in different cities in
Italy, were now laying the foundation of schools, soon to become as
distinct in manner as the masters of one and the same art can well be

But though much had been accomplished before the close of the fifteenth
century, as respects the higher qualities of imitative art, painting
was still in infancy. Leonardo da Vinci, born in 1452, reared it
to high maturity. The genius of this extraordinary man seemed as a
mirror, receiving and reflecting, in added brightness, every ray of
intellectual light which had yet beamed upon the age. Philosopher,
poet, artist, he anticipated the march of three centuries; proving,
in his own instance, what the unshackled energies of man would then
accomplish. Yet--and that, too, by a living historian of most deserved
reputation--has Leonardo been represented as a dabbler in various
knowledge, a proficient in none--a laborious idler, wasting time and
talent in useless multiplicity of pursuit. This apparently has been
done to exalt his great contemporary and successor; but history ought
not to be written as a picture is painted, touching in under-tones
what are deemed secondaries, that the light may be more conspicuously
directed to a principal figure. At the shrine of art, the devotion
of Da Vinci was neither devoid of fervor nor unfruitful; albeit he
courted, and not unsuccessfully, the favors of science, then new and
dear to the aspiring mind. His true rank is not only among the fathers,
but the masters of the art; he is one who not merely preceded, but
excelled. His cartoon of horsemen in the battle of Pisa formed a
favorite study of the greatest masters; and, in competition, Michael
Angelo produced another of soldiers arming in haste, after bathing;
which even his admirers say he scarcely ever afterwards equalled. Yet
was Leonardo not vanquished. The Last Supper, painted in fresco, at
Milan, exhibited a dignity and propriety of expression, a correctness
of drawing, then unequalled; and, if seen as originally finished,
probably still unsurpassed. The story of the head of the principal
personage having been left incomplete is a vulgar error, as might be
easily proved by reference to the early literature of Italian art.
The well-known portrait of Mona Lisa, in purity of drawing, sweetness
of simple and natural expression, has an equal only in the works of
Raphael. But the influence of this master extended much more widely
than the sphere of individual examples: he first united the science of
anatomy with that of painting, and both with nature; and thus may truly
be said to have prepared the art for the coming greatness.

To the majesty of Michael Angelo's genius the reader has already done
homage. If in sculpture the grandeur of his conceptions was admired,
in painting this greatness is still more wonderful, but unfortunately,
not less singular and remote from nature. Yet, than the painting
of Buonarotti there is perhaps no instance of intellectual power
more truly grand in the entire history of mind. Previous to leaving
his native Florence, where he was born, of a noble family, in 1474;
and whence he fled, when his country became false to herself and to
freedom, architecture and sculpture had formed his principal studies.
Design he had pursued little farther than as indispensably connected
with these: of painting, as a separate science, he was of course
comparatively ignorant. In this state of knowledge, he received orders
to complete the paintings in the Sistine Chapel, upon which several of
the artists, already mentioned, had before been engaged. Yet, at this
time, Michael Angelo was unacquainted with the mechanical processes of
fresco. To produce the designs was to him a labour of ease; and these
he endeavored to have executed by artists brought from Florence; but
on trial, dismissed them in all save utter hopelessness. Rising in
the strength and perseverance of indomitable genius, he resolved to
begin art anew, and to depend henceforth solely on his own resources.
Shutting himself up in the fated chapel, preparing the materials with
his own hands, after many trials and failures,--after beholding the
first piece finished to his satisfaction, moulder and mildew almost
before his admiring eye--he at length triumphed, achieving in the
course of years the most adventurous undertaking in modern art, under
circumstances, too, that while they encourage all, leave to none who
aspires to the moral dignity of talent even the shadow of an apology
for irresolution or indolence.

The walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, with the picture of the
Last Judgment, executed thirty years afterwards, form the principal,
almost the sole, works of Michael Angelo in painting. The latter is
the greatest work of modern art, being fifty feet high by forty wide,
and containing upwards of 300 figures, many of which are larger than
life. Here the human form appears under every variety of position,
and agitated by every gradation of feeling; and over the whole is
diffused a living ease--a science--a magic power--a fascination,
which constrains us to gaze with wonder, astonishment, admiration,
but not with interest or sympathy. Similar are our feelings in every
other example; nor can this be exactly charged as a defect. Michael
Angelo formed a system for himself--he stands alone in his art--an
ideal abstraction of mind was the object of his imitation, to which
all of living nature, elevated into gigantic forms and energetic
modes, was to be moulded in subserviency. His art was creative, not
imitative--standing forth, in its own independence of aim.

Hence, there are two relations in which the works in painting of
Michael Angelo are to be examined, and according to which his merits
will be very differently estimated. Viewed in themselves, the frescos
of the Vatican present astonishing evidences of human power. Every
thought is grandeur and strength; and the rapid, fervent execution arms
the pencil with an omnipotence of art equal to all the modifications
of form. Here the whole is perfect, inimitable; within this his own
walk, Buonarotti has no compeer,--'second to none, with nothing like
to him.' But when the same works are considered in reference to the
general principles of imitation, and as deriving value according as
they reflect the archetypes of elevated nature, those very qualities
which formerly constrained our approbation, become startling blemishes.
The ideal is found to consist solely in the imaginative; sublimity is
sought too exclusively in the vehement to be always dignified. All is
action,--all participates of an unquiet and too aspiring character of
composition: every form, every muscle, every attitude, exhibits the
very gladiatorship of art,--for each is displayed, exerted, involved,
to the utmost. Even repose is anything save rest. Yet, in difficulty
apparently insurmountable, constraint is not perceived; the execution,
wonderfully facile, though too prominent in general effect, gives to
each giant limb of the awful and gloomy shapes, the very effect of life
and movement. But to this display of capabilities--to the exhibition of
science, and the sporting with difficulty, truth, simplicity, feeling,
and real beauty, have been sacrificed. In this nothing seems peculiar
to painting as distinguished from sculpture; nor, indeed, is there
any discrimination: color, tone, light, shadow--all is systematic
and ideal, but all mighty and overpowering in the whole. Again, when
the influence of such a style upon the progress of improvement is
considered, it appears that such influence could be favorable neither
to future improvement nor to stationary excellence. The greatness
of Michael Angelo, then, is his own--not the grandeur of art. Both
sculpture and painting he made subservient to the loftiest aims, and
the most splendid fame any artist ever did, perhaps can, pursue or
attain: yet each was but a slave, ministering to a glory in which
neither intrinsically participated.

Contemporary with the 'mighty Florentine,' but most unlike in all the
characteristics of genius, save the sublimity of the final result, was
Raphael, the founder and master of the Roman school. Born at Urbino,
1483, he arrived in Rome upon the invitation of his relation, Bramante,
the architect, about 1508, nearly at the same time with his great
rival. Dying on his thirtyseventh birthday, he has, in a short life,
bequeathed to posterity works almost equally numerous, and certainly
displaying more of the profound excellences and beautiful sentiment of
art, than those of any name since the revival of painting. Of these
inestimable productions there remain to us easel pictures in oil,
cartoons, and frescos, exhibiting, also, three different manners. The
first dry, little, and tedious, but not without truth--often great
beauty of finishing. This was derived from his instructer, Pietro
Perugino; and though observable as a general characteristic only in his
early easel pictures, and some frescos at Sienna, may yet occasionally
be detected in the careful pencilling even of his frescos, and in the
making out of his accompaniments. The pictures which display this style
are those painted after he left his master in 1493, and before his
return to Urbino about 1504. The finest of these was executed in his
seventeenth year, representing a Holy Family,--the Virgin raising a
veil from the Infant, who sleeps. Except in the works of Da Vinci, so
much sweetness of expression and beauty of design had not yet appeared
in the art, as is found even in this youthful production. The second
manner is an intermediate step--an attempt to escape from a minuteness
which he soon discovered to be unsuitable both to his own fervor and
the dignity of art. The change is perceptible immediately after he
had studied the works of the Florentine masters, whose improvements,
and the vigor of their enlarged style, he would at sight appreciate
as movements evidently in advance, but with which he had hitherto
remained unacquainted. As a separate manner, it can scarcely be said
to exist; for at most it was but a new instrument in the possession of
a mind which has made everything its own. All that is apparent amounts
merely to a progressive melioration, extending through three or four
years, of which space he resided nearly two in Florence, studying
the performances of art in that city, but receiving no personal
instructions, excepting a reciprocal interchange of knowledge with Fra
Bartolomeo. The most celebrated pictures produced by him during this
interval are the Virgin, Infant, and St John, in the ducal gallery,
and the entombing of Christ, now at Rome. These, more strikingly when
viewed in comparison with the style of contemporary works, exhibit
beauties of so opposite a character to the compositions of Michael
Angelo, that it is impossible to perceive any grounds on which the
obligations said to be owing by their author to the latter can be
rested. Buonarotti, in fact, could not, or at least never did, paint
in a taste of such simplicity as these exhibit. The third manner is
solely and exclusively individual, neither derived nor--we grieve
to say--inherited; full, harmonious, sweet, and flowing--yet bold,
learned, and sustained,--composed of such an union of natural grace and
antique correctness, as meet only in the creations of Raphael's pencil.
To this style his most important works belong, having been formed after
his arrival in Rome, and when he had there become deeply impressed
with the sublimities of ancient art. In the space of only twelve
years--for he united exquisite finish with wonderful expedition--he
completed the frescos of the Vatican and the Farnesina, besides others,
amounting to many hundred figures--designed the Cartoons--cultivating,
at the same time, architecture (of which he was a master), poetry,
and sculpture. During the same laborious period were produced those
exquisite paintings in oil, which have chiefly contributed to spread
his fame beyond Italy. Of these the best, the most wonderful, though in
slight respects not the most perfect, is the Transfiguration--the last
bequeathment of his genius to the arts and to posterity, for he died
within a few days after it was completed.

As Raphael in these works, no painter has ever done so much for the
real excellence of the art, nor, in the principles upon which they are
conducted, has placed improvement on precepts so pure, so unerring. All
that imagination could lend to a strictly imitative art he has added,
yet has infused into its creations the warmest sensibilities of life;
to nature he has given all that grace and fancy can bestow, consistent
with the sweetest of all charms--leaving her nature still. On this
account is Raphael, of all great names in art, the safest to adopt as
the guide of taste and practice. For were the most decided admirer of
system merely to copy, he would quickly find himself constrained to
become the disciple of reality. True, we discover no mixed modes of
nature, such as impede her energies and cloud her beauties in ordinary
life; yet the tranquil loveliness--the sinless beauty--the noble
feeling of the representation--has nothing of the cold and merely
imaginative. This, indeed, constitutes the great charm of Raphael's
grace, that neither in form nor expression is it abstract; its power
of moving is acquired directly from human sympathy. In gazing upon
his dramatic scenes and breathing figures, who has not experienced
this truth in a gradual melting of the heart, in unison with every
pure and holy remembrance that connects man with the species? See
the Madona--how mildly, simply beautiful! In that bosom not one
rude passion has a resting place; yet feels not each spectator now
called-up dear though distant recollections of a parent's--a mother's
tenderness, with all the reverential charities of life's spring? Behold
the Magdalen--how changed the sensibilities! still how respectable!
One overmastering, absorbing affection. No meretricious display--every
movement is that of passion, but of sentiment too. Or view that youth
so intent upon instruction; he hangs upon the very words of his
aged guide. How powerfully do we conceive the mature resolves that
irradiate the ingenuous countenance! Or turn your attention to the
child who is playing in the lap of the mother--how innocently happy!
how unconsciously beautiful! Yet look again;--even here is passion,
sentiment, futurity. The imagination involuntarily shapes out the
fortunes of that disposition so legibly expressed in the speaking
countenance. But in the deep meaning of the mild full eye, in the holy
expression which beams in every lineament, in the spotless form, has
not genius made the nearest approaches to our unbreathed conceptions of
an infant Saviour! Regard that prophet--how glorious, yet how good, he
seems! No spirit insensible to human woe, unpitying of human frailty,
lives there. The errors and backslidings of his race have given a fixed
though placid sorrow to the eye, but the closing sunshine of his own
pure life hath settled on the majestic brow.

Such are all the works of Raphael, full to overflowing of human
sentiment and of interest. In their very highest ideal, they are but
the primeval dignity and sacredness of our nature. How then can these
facts be reconciled with the opinion so boldly and so long asserted,
that they do not strike at first sight--that the heart as well as the
judgment must be gradually prepared to relish their beauties? We shall
not attempt to reconcile--we deny the conclusion. Where these works
have not been from the first felt, and admired, and loved in their
truth and in their simplicity, they have been viewed through the mists
of false theory, or compared with erroneous standards of excellence. We
discard all consideration of the theories of the French professional
critics on this subject; but it has often been matter of great surprise
to find Sir Joshua Reynolds maintaining the same system. 'I remember
very well,' says the English artist, 'my own disappointment when I
first visited the Vatican; but on confessing my feelings to a brother
student, of whose ingenuousness I had a high opinion, he acknowledged
that the works of Raphael had the same effect upon him--or rather,
that they did not produce the effect which he expected. This was a
great relief to my mind; and on inquiring further of other students,
I found that those persons only, who, from natural imbecility,
appeared incapable of ever relishing those divine performances, made
pretensions to instantaneous raptures on first beholding them. I found
myself in the midst of works executed upon principles with which I was
unacquainted; I felt my ignorance, and stood abashed. I viewed them
again and again; I even affected to admire them more than I really did.
In a short time a new taste and a new perception began to dawn upon me,
and I was convinced that I had originally formed a false opinion of the
perfection of the art, and that this great painter was well entitled
to the high rank which he holds in the estimation of the world. But
let it always be remembered that the excellence of his style is not on
the surface, but lies deep, and at first view is seen but mistily. It
is the florid style which strikes at once, and captivates the eye for
a time, without ever satisfying the judgment.' We admire this candor,
and can at once admit the justness of these remarks in general, when
applied to the works of Michael Angelo, on whose principles it is
well known that Sir Joshua formed his theory of ideal beauty. But in
reference to Raphael, conclusions the very opposite would be nearer
the truth. Drawn immediately from nature, as are all his ideas, they
interest the heart at once; and as we study the exquisite mechanism,
the perfection of the details, the propriety of the composition, the
judgment confirms yet more the impressions which the heart first

These observations lead to, while they are confirmed by, another view,
which yet remains to be taken of the genius of Raphael. It is only in
the individuality and profoundness of expression, that he reaches the
sublimities of art. In the abstract conception of form he is inferior;
hence, in the representations of mythological existences, he becomes
feeble in proportion as he generalizes. It is this that discriminates
between the Roman and the Florentine. The former is the painter of
men as they live, and feel, and act; the latter delineates man in the
abstract. The one embodies sentiment--feeling--passion; the other
pourtrays the capacities, energies, and idealities of form. Raphael
excels in resemblance; he walks the earth, but with dignity, and is
seen to most advantage in relations of human fellowship. Michael Angelo
can be viewed only in his own world; with ours he holds no farther
communion than is necessary to obtain a common medium of intelligence.
In the grand, the venerable, the touching realities of life, the
first is unrivalled; his fair, and seeming true, creations cause us
to reverence humanity and ourselves. Over the awful and the sublime
of fiction, the second extends a terrible sway; he calls spirits from
their shadowy realms, and they come at his bidding, in giant shapes, to
frown upon the impotency of man.

To contend here for superiority is futile--each has his own independent
sphere. The style of Raphael has justly been characterised as
the dramatic, that of Michael Angelo as the epic, of painting.
The distinction is accurate, in as far as the former has made to
pass before us character in conflict with passion--in all its
individualities of mode; while the latter represented and generalized
both character and passion. The first leads us from natural beauty to
divine--the second elevates us at once into regions which his own lofty
imaginations have peopled. Hence, than Michael Angelo's prophets, and
other beings that just hover on the confines of human and spiritual
existence, the whole range of art and poetry never has, and never
will, produce more magnificent and adventurous creations. This is his
true power--here he reigns alone, investing art with a mightiness
unapproachable by any other pencil. But when the interest is to be
derived from known forms, and natural combinations, he fails almost
utterly; never can his line want grandeur--but grandeur so frequently
substituted for feeling, and when the subject cannot sustain it,
presents only gorgeous caricature. Human affection mingles in every
touch of Raphael, and he carries our nature to its highest moral,
if not physical, elevation. Hence, his supernatural forms may want
abstract majesty and overawing expression; but they display a community
in this world's feelings, without its weaknesses or imperfections, by
which the heart is perhaps even more subdued.

If this be a true estimate of the powers of these great men, and
we have drawn our inferences from impressions often felt, and long
studied, no comparison can be more unjust, nor less apt, than the one
so frequently repeated, that Michael Angelo is the Homer, Raphael
the Virgil, of modern painting. The Florentine may justly take his
place by the side of the Greek. Not so the Roman and the Mantuan.
The copyist of Homer, nay, frequently his translator, whose nature
is taken at second-hand--whose characters, in the mass, have about
as much individuality as the soldiers of a platoon, and little more
intellectual discrimination than brave, braver, and bravest, must
occupy a lower seat at the banquet of genius than the original, the
ever varied, and graphic artist. The great error in estimating the
merits of these masters appears to have arisen from not considering
them separately, and as independent minds. Michael Angelo, indeed,
created, while Raphael may be said to have composed; but he discovered
and collected--he did not derive his materials. Michael Angelo found
the art poor in means, undignified and powerless in composition; he
assumed it in feebleness, and bore it at once to maturity of strength.
Of these improvements Raphael profited by novel application; but the
advantage was nothing more than necessarily occurs in the spread of
intelligence. Massaccio had, in like manner, prepared the previous
change; Da Vinci first, then Buonarotti, took it up. The pupil of
Perugino made availment of this new path to a commanding height,
whence the whole prospect of the empire of art might be surveyed, but
over this his genius soared in guideless, independent flight. Than
the invention, and at such a time, of Michael Angelo's mighty system,
there is to be found no greater evidence of talent, nor of greater
talent; but from the mind that could conceive that system, scarcely an
exertion was demanded to maintain supremacy therein, guarded as were
its claims against all rivalry by the very novelty and peculiarity of
the style, where each adopter would be degraded into an imitator. On
the other hand, if the perfection of Raphael's manner appear to be more
in the ordinary course of genius, it is to be remembered, that its very
perfectness depends upon those qualities of mind which most rarely
assemble in the constitution of inventive genius--exquisite taste,
sound judgment, patient study, and profound knowledge of the human
heart. Be it also recollected, that to support the mastery here, in a
style founded on no peculiar habitudes of intellect, but embracing the
general and intrinsic principles of art, where all good artists would
consequently be rivals, without incurring the imputation of copying,
required unabating effort, diligence, and originality,--more liberal
and varied excellence, than in the preceding system. Here we at length
discover the real and abiding superiority of Raphael. It is not that
he pre-eminently surpasses in one of the faculties of genius, but he
has embodied in his labours more of the requisites of perfection than
any other of the modern masters. In grandeur of invention and form,
he is inferior to Michael Angelo. Titian surpasses him in coloring,
Corregio in gradation of tone. This superiority, however, becomes
visible only where each of the qualities becomes the ruling sentiment
of the work. For when we view in itself a composition of Raphael, where
the style of design so exquisitely accords with the forms, the coloring
corresponding with each, the chiar' oscuro just adequate to the degree
of perception meditated; the whole harmonized by innate and unerring
propriety, animated with his own peculiar grace and sentiment, while
each separate quality becomes yet more perfect in the combination,--the
pencil seems justly to have attained its unrivalled utmost.

With their respective founders, the schools of Rome and Florence may be
said to have terminated; at least the mantle of their teacher rested
with very unequal inspiration upon the disciples of both. The death of
Raphael, in 1520, proved an irremediable loss to the arts, the extent
of which never can indeed be known. His pure and natural style, had
it been more firmly engrafted by longer life, would probably have
delayed, perhaps prevented, the sudden extravagance and mannerism which
overspread the united schools of Tuscany and Rome, at the head of which
Michael Angelo survived upwards of forty years.

Among the various pursuits of taste, painting alone exhibits this
singular fortune, that the noblest and most intellectual of its
principles, as also those which speak most directly to sense, and are
merely alluring, were invented at the same time, but in different
places, and separately practised. It is worthy of remark, also, that
in each respect the first inventors remained the most accomplished
professors of their own discoveries. While in Rome and Florence,
design and expression were receiving their perfection, forming the
almost exclusive subjects of study, in Venice, the seductions of
coloring, in Lombardy, the illusions of light and shadow, were adding
unknown pomp and magic to the art.

The school of Venice, though one of the earliest in Europe to cherish
reviving arts, has added little of intellectual or noble to their
progressive culture. Here they have never flourished in the genial
soil of popular institutions. A haughty and jealous, yet luxurious and
unpatriotic aristocracy, converted the arts into instruments of private
gratification--instead of turning them to national ornament. Hence
sculpture has been little cultivated, architecture more, though in
peculiar style, and painting most of all. But while the sacredness of
religion, or the manliness of history, has occupied the Italian pencil
generally, of the older masters especially, Venice has sent forth
her lordly senators, splendid banquets, and naked beauties. From the
twelfth century, we have already seen, a movement might be discerned
in the arts of Venice. Her school of painting begins to attract notice
under Antonello da Messina, who introduced oil colors. The Bellinis
carried out his improvements; and as pupils of the youngest, we
discover Giorgione and Titian, who, with Tintoretto, Paul Veronese,
Sebastian del Piombo, Schiavone, and Bassano, were the chief masters of
this school.

But of Venetian painting the great ornament is Titian, whose name is
synonymous with the characteristic of the native school--fine coloring.
From this, however, we are not to suppose, as is too frequently done,
that he was wanting in the higher principles of his profession. The
alleged imperfection of his design will not often be detected, and only
in momentary action of the parts; for in the more common modifications
of form, it is faultless, and of inanimate nature the drawing and
painting of his landscapes is unrivalled. In expression he is the most
historical of all painters, his portraits being second only to those
of Raphael. In careful imitation of natural effect, he is equal to the
most pains-taking of the Dutch school; yet, with such grandeur and
breadth in the masses, that, as has been justly remarked, the most
imperfect sketch in which the original disposition in this respect
is preserved, will present a character of high art. The chief defect
of Titian was in composition and poetical fancy; he penetrated the
very secrets of nature in all her varied effects and minutest shades
of tone and hue--but he neither made selections of her forms, nor
possessed the power of correcting her defects, by an ideal standard.
In this mastery of coloring, three principles may be remarked; first,
the interposing medium between the eye and the object is supposed to
be a mellow golden light; secondly, the most glowing and gorgeous
lights are produced, not so much by rich local tints as by the general
conduct of the whole piece, in which the gradations of tone are almost
evanescent, yet in their strongest hues powerfully contrasted. Hence
the final splendor is effected rather by painting in under-tones, than
by lavishing on particular spots the whole riches of the palette.
The shadows and under-tones, also, are enlivened by a thousand local
hues and flickering lights, and his masses by innumerable varieties
and play of parts; yet all softened, and blended, and combined by an
undefinable harmony. Hence, nothing more easy than apparently to copy
Titian--nothing more difficult than really to imitate his faithfulness
and splendor. The third principle refers to his practice; the colors
are laid on pure, without mixing, in tints by reiterated application,
and apparently with the point of the pencil.

Titian died in 1576, at the venerable age of 96 or 99, having survived
the glory of the Venetian school, the last disciple of decided
eminence being Tintoretto, called the lightning of the pencil, from
his miraculous despatch. The Bassans are powerful colorists, and
wonderfully true to nature. Paul Veronese wantons in all the luxuriance
of fresh and magnificent coloring, but is correct neither in taste nor
drawing. Giorgione, of all the early Venetian masters, gave greatest
promise of uniting purity with splendor, but died in 1511, at the
age of 33;--thus leaving Titian, to whom he had in some measure been
instructer, to reap an undivided harvest of fame.

In the annals of genius, no name bears more strongly on the popular
sense attached to the term of a heaven-born inspiration, superior
to circumstances and independent of tuition, than that of Antonio
Leti--better known as Corregio. This artist, who was born about 1494,
and died at the age of 40, is the model rather than the founder of the
Lombard school. From the bosom of poverty, without master, without
patron, without even the commonest appliances of his art, he bursts
at once upon the view in all the blaze of original talent--unpraised,
unknown--in an age of knowledge, to sink unmarked like the meteor of
the desert, leaving but the memorials of his graceful pencil--in his
own phrase, 'anch' io son pittore'--to cry aloud that he also was
a painter,--that such a man, contemporary with Raphael and Michael
Angelo, and their nearest compeer, should have lived in ignorance
of them, of Rome, of the antique, of all but nature--to die at last
unrewarded in Parma--is utterly inexplicable. The principal works of
this master are the two noble cupolas of the cathedral churches of
Parma, painted in fresco--one subject the Assumption of the Virgin,
the other the Ascension of the Saviour. Of his easel paintings, the
most precious, representing a Holy Family, and called the 'Night,'
is in the Dresden gallery. The beauties of Corregio are grace and
exquisite management of light and color, united with inexpressible
harmony,--'thus was completed the round of art.' 'Everything I see,'
says Annibale Caracci, on beholding fifty years afterwards these works
of Corregio,'astonishes me, particularly the coloring and beauty of
the children, who live, breathe, and smile, with so much sweetness and
vivacity, that we are constrained to sympathize in their enjoyment.'
The clearness and relief, the sweetness and freedom of pencil, in the
works before us, have indeed never been exceeded, but correctness is
not one of their elements. Neither the most beautiful forms, nor the
most pleasing groupings, are preferred to the most ungraceful upon any
principle of abstract elegance, but the whole composed and selected
in obedience to the distribution of light and the gradation of tone.
In expression, the same system is pursued; for here Corregio has
endeavored habitually to impress the soft hues and undulating lines
which rapture and joy leave on the countenance. Beyond these, of ideal,
he appears to have had no conception. Every form wears the stamp of
living nature, and his coloring is the very reflection of natural
bloom. He wanted force, which, with the defect of elevation, renders
the whole effect, though delightfully soft and graceful, sometimes
effeminate and monotonous. Yet Raphael alone united a greater variety
of different excellences.

We have now surveyed the labours and merits of the old masters--the
patriarchs of modern art. The establishment of the four primitive
schools embraces likewise the golden age of painting. How brief was
the reign of lofty genius! The same individual might have lived
with all the masters now enumerated,--he might have survived them
all,--beholding the art in its infancy, and in its manhood, he might
have witnessed also its decline, and yet have viewed all this within
the ordinary span of existence. The same brevity in the duration
of excellence we also remarked in the arts of Greece. Is it, then,
the fate of the human spirit, like human institutions, to fall away
immediately on attaining a degree of perfection? or rather, is not this
evidence of powers which shall hereafter expand, grow, and unfold their
activities,--here on earth chilled, and cramped, and broken?

Among the minor fathers of the art who not unworthily supported the
glory of the sixteenth century, and who continue the history of
painting in the Roman and Florentine schools through the remainder of
that period, the chief were the immediate disciples of Raphael and
Michael Angelo. The favorite pupil of the former, Julio Romano, was an
artist of highly poetic imagination, but less informed with pure taste
than his master; his ambition appears to have aimed at uniting the
grace of his instructer with the science and energy of Florence. Penni,
Perin del Vaga, Polidore Caravaggio, and Maturino, not unsuccessfully
studied in the same school; but we find a gradual disappearance of
the more simple style of Raphael, and long before the middle of the
century, the two schools may almost be said to have merged in the
overwhelming despotism of the principles of Michael Angelo. Even the
names now mentioned, though at first following the Roman in their
later works, are scarcely to be distinguished from the disciples
of the Florentine school. Of those who were truly disciples of the
latter, and who derived their science immediately from the founder,
was Daniel de Volterra, who survived till 1566. The designs of this
latter have frequently been assigned to his master; and in the opinion
of Poussin, his Descent from the Cross, in fresco, in the church of
Trinita del Monte at Rome, is--or rather was, for it perished under
French experiment,--one of the three best pictures in the world. Andrea
del Sarto was more an independent master, who held between the two
styles, and added better coloring than either. Mazzuoli, better known
as Parmegiano, though by birth and early study belonging to the school
of Corregio, his better taste was formed at Rome; his style of design
is noble, coloring forcible, and general effect sweet and gracious. He
died in 1540, ten years after the preceding. But of all the followers
of Michael Angelo, Tibaldi approached nearest to the sublimity, without
the extravagance, of his model. It soon becomes difficult, indeed
impossible, to follow decidedly the division of the ancient schools.
In the progress of the century, their principles become united in the
works of the minor painters, who are henceforth to be distinguished by
the place of their birth, rather than by their style. The design of
Michael Angelo prevailed; but to this were added, in proportion to the
abilities of the artist, the various discoveries of the other masters.
The art however, was in rapid retrogression. A style which suited
only the most transcendent genius, which only under such inspiration
could be at all pleasing, and from whose sublimity one step led into
the turgid and the false, became a most dangerous instrument of ill
in the hands of mere imitators. The ingrafting, also, upon its severe
simplicity, the more luxurious modes of Venice and Lombardy, tended
still more effectually to extinguish character and truth of distinctive

Towards the close of the sixteenth and early part of the seventeenth
century, the progress of decline was stayed for a time by the
establishment of a new school. This was the Bolognese or Eclectic,
founded by the Caracci, and which, in some measure, was the
concentration of all the Lombard artists, who, separately following,
in a great measure, the style of Corregio, had yet never united into
a seminary of which that master could be called the head. The grand
principle of this new academy, and thence deriving the appellation
of Eclectic, was to select what was most excellent in the primitive
schools; design from the Florentine, and grace from the Roman, from
the Venetian color, from the Lombard light and shade, uniting all
in due proportion and harmonious effect. The plan was arduous and
aspiring, but the idea was good; the failure which ensued, for, abating
the success of individual talent, the final result disappointed
expectation, arose not from the intention pursued, but from the means
employed. The Bolognese masters sought to effect the combination
of these elements by rules of art, instead of taking nature as the
connecting and vivifying principle. In the study of her effects they
would have found the very union they contemplated--the previous
separation, in fact, of pictorial excellence into departments, had been
occasioned by partial or peculiar views of nature. Still the success of
the attempt was great, and threw the last rays of glory over the native
seat of modern art.

The founders and great ornaments of this school were the three Caracci;
Ludovico the eldest, born in 1555, died in 1619, was the instructer
of his two cousins--Agostino, three years younger, and Annibale, born
in 1560, both of whom Ludovico survived. The association formed by
these relatives was, in the strictest sense of the term, a _school_
of design, and conducted upon an admirable plan; students being
instructed in anatomy, in drawing, in painting, and in the principles
of composition, by actual superintendence and personal instruction.
The unaffected breadth, solemnity, yet grace of effect--the simplicity
of character, which distinguish the works of Ludovico, are justly
admired. Augustino excelled more in the theory than the practice of his
art; but one of the best pictures of this school, the St Jerome of the
Certosa, is his. Engravings by him are numerous and valuable. Of all
the Caracci, Annibale is the most magnificent in his compositions, and
may be taken as the true representative of the school; bold, splendid,
broad, his pencil deals its touches with firm, almost unerring
certainty, to its aim--but too frequently that aim is style in art,
rather than truth in feeling.

Of the immediate pupils of the Bolognese academy, the first undoubtedly
is the modest and tender Domenichino. Though participating in the
common fault of his school, loaded design, yet his heads have a feeling
and expression approaching to the sublime in sentiment. The Communion
of St Jerome is pronounced by Poussin to be one of the three best
pictures in the world--the Transfiguration of Raphael, and Volterra's
Descent from the Cross, completing the number. We shall not easily
forget our impressions on beholding the Transfiguration and the
Communion side by side in the Vatican. Guido's name instantly calls up
all our associations of the graceful and the benign; but his expression
is too often artificial: perhaps in his works we first decidedly mark
those academic abstractions and refinements of precept, which, formed
independently of nature, hastened the downfall of art in this its last
resting place. Guercino wants power and individual character; Albani
is agreeable and poetic, the painter of the Loves and Graces. Carlo
Dolci, a Florentine, imitates Guido. Lanfranco is bold, but incorrect
in his design; as are likewise Pietro Cortona, and Luca Giordano,
mannerists in whom is lost every distinction of character. Contemporary
with the Carracci, but self-taught, and belonging to no school, was
Caravaggio, strong but ungraceful in design, harsh in the disposition
of his lights, but of undoubted genius:--his pupil was Spagnoletto. The
history of painting in Italy, at least of painting animated by genius,
may be closed with the name of Salvator Rosa, who died in 1673, the
only native landscape painter which that delightful and picturesque
country has produced. The old masters, indeed, have left the grandest
and most perfect landscape compositions--but these are subservient to
the figures. Rosa succeeded in both, and stands nobly, but peculiarly,
original in an age of decay and mannerism.

The eighteenth century opens under the auspices of Carlo Maratti,
an affected mannerist, but not altogether devoid of talent. After
his death, in 1713, his rivals, Garzi and Cignani, sustained for a
little the expiring reputation of the Roman school. But it is quite
unnecessary to continue the narrative; the state of the arts during the
early part of this century has already been noticed, and the names of
Bianchi, Costanzi, Manchini, the early contemporaries of Canova, and of
the revival, are now forgotten. The only artists of those times still
regarded with some respect, are, Solemena, who died in 1747; Sebastian
Conca, in 1764; and Pompeo Battoni, who brings down the history of the
art to 1787; Mengs belongs to Germany.

Over the living art of Italy, Camuccini at Rome, and Benvenuti at
Florence, preside. The former is perhaps the best draughtsman in
Europe, but is inferior as a colorist; he wants depth, harmony,
and force; his grouping also is defective in richness and variety,
approaching too nearly to the linear as in relievo. His expression,
though noble, is cold--deficient in that warm gush of sentiment,
which, in the ancient masters, seemed to 'create a soul under the ribs
of death.' Benvenuti excels his contemporary as a colorist, in the
disposition of his group, and in the force of _chiar' oscuro_; but in
purity of drawing, in classical taste, and in the selection of form,
he is inferior. Each has chosen his subjects principally from profane
history. Camuccini's best performance is the Departure of Regulus;
Benvenuti's a scene in the recent history of Saxony. Rome possesses
several other good painters, but few natives--for, to the artist as to
the poet of every nation, she has become

  '----His country--city of the soul.'


THE Trans-alpine schools of painting now demand attention. The German
is usually divided into three distinct schools--the German, properly
so called, the Flemish, and the Dutch. These distinctions are rather
local than depending upon characteristic difference of manner. Indeed,
prior to the age of Durer, the only style discernible in the schools
is that named Gothic, common more or less to all the states of Europe,
but especially indigenous in Germany. The expression, then, is here
employed not altogether in its vague and generic sense of anything
stiff and formal--for these early or Gothic pictures exhibit a specific
character both of design and execution. They are painted upon wood,
usually oak, covered sometimes with canvass, always with a white
ground, upon which the outline of the subject is sketched, and the
whole overlaid with gilding. This last forms the real grounding of the
picture, which is painted in water or size-color, with great care and
diligence of finish, often with considerable felicity of effect, and
always with more of the simplicity of individual nature than occurs
in any other works of the same age and description. This early school
terminated in the fifteenth century, from the more general diffusion
of oil-painting; its principal masters were Schoen, the Bon Martino
of the Italians, born in 1420, painter and engraver; Wohlgemuth,
the instructer of Durer; and Muiller, or Kranach, Burgomaster of
Wittemberg, and friend of Luther. But the prince of German artists is
Albert Durer, born at Nuremberg in 1471--the Da Vinci of this school,
as excelling in science and in art. His works in painting and engraving
are equally admirable, evincing knowledge of the best principles of
imitation. They still retain a degree of constraint--a remnant of the
Gothic manner, of which the habits and prejudices of his countrymen,
and his own ignorance of the antique, prevented the removal. Want of
dignified design and grandeur of composition, hard and meagre outline,
are his defects; truth, originality, and simplicity of thought, good
coloring, and the invention, or at least perfecting, of etching on
copper, form his contributions to the arts. His contemporary, and, in
portraits, superior, was Holbein, best known in England, and whose
works, in the reign of Henry VIII., are excellent examples of the
school; his successors, in departing from the national style, become
blended with the minor Italian masters--for the German school ceases
to be original or distinct when it ceases to be Gothic. After Schwartz
Rolenhamer, and others of the sixteenth century, who painted history
in the Italian manner, Germany sent forth chiefly landscape painters,
as Bauer, Elzhaimer, and others, who finished in a style exquisitely
delicate and natural.

Commercial wealth, the comparative independence and activity which
always accompany industrious enterprise, rendered the Flemish
cities, from a very early period, famous in painting. In fact, many
of their most lucrative branches of trade--tapestry, embroidery,
jewellery--depended upon, and, as in the Italian republics, aided the
progress of design. Few characteristics of a national style, however,
are to be found in the history of art in the Low Countries, as distinct
from Germany, prior to the close of the sixteenth century. To John
of Bruges, better known as Van Eyck, a Flemish painter about the
beginning of the fifteenth century, has been ascribed the discovery
of oil colors; but though the discovery appears rather to have been a
gradual improvement, commencing from a much earlier date, he certainly
first brought the practice into general use. The painters of the
Flemish and Dutch schools were thus put early in possession of an
advantage, contributing principally to the distinguishing qualities
of art in these countries--fine coloring and exquisite finish. The
method, indeed, necessarily introduced these properties, as may also
be remarked in Italy, where the Venetian masters, who first obtained
the secret, continued to surpass, as they had taken the lead, in
sweetness and splendor of pencilling. Lucas Van Leyden and Mabeuse, far
surpassed Van Eyck, and indeed rivalled their German contemporaries,
Durer and Holbein; while, in the subsequent century, artists are
numerous who carried to a high perfection the characteristics of the
school--imitation of nature, and wonderful minuteness of finish--such
as Brill, Stenwyck, Spranger, the Brueghils, and Van Veen.

Rubens was born of an honorable family, at Antwerp, in 1577, and died
in 1640. This powerful and prolific artist, whose works are abundantly
scattered over the whole of Europe, gave to the Flemish school
the consideration attendant on separate and dignified character.
Had Rubens, indeed, united to brilliancy of coloring, rapidity of
composition, and splendor of general effect, the elevation of form
and sentiment which ennoble the thoughts of the old masters, his name
would justly have ranked amongst the highest in art. But the seductions
of the Venetian, and the bravura of the Lombard style, had for him
more attraction than the majesty of the Florentine, or the grace and
pathos of the Roman pencil. There is in his style, however, a dexterous
compensation for defects, which, more than in any other, momentarily
seduces the judgment from propriety. His defect of expression is
concealed in the richness, the lavish variety, of his figures and
grouping; the incorrectness of his forms is forgotten in beholding
their almost mobile elasticity; the absence of lofty interest passes
unmarked amid the striking contrasts and picturesque impressions of the
general effect. Over the whole is thrown the most gorgeous coloring,
the play of reflected lights, the magnificence of almost shifting,
yet ever harmonious hues and luxuriance of ornament;--like the golden
flood from the stained window, pouring its radiance over the irregular
but magical combinations of the Gothic aisle. The landscapes of Rubens
are delightful; they have the freshness, the clearness, the variety of
nature, and a far deeper sentiment of her beauty than his histories or
portraits--the last, indeed, are the least meritorious of his works.
But we shall qualify or support our own by the opinion of Sir Joshua
Reynolds, whose summary of the character of Rubens is as follows: 'In
his composition his art is too apparent; his figures have expression,
and act with energy, but without simplicity or dignity. His coloring,
in which he is eminently skilled, is notwithstanding too much of
what we call tinted. Throughout the whole of his works, there is a
proportionable want of that nicety of distinction and elegance of
mind, which is required in the higher walks of painting; to this want,
it may in some degree be ascribed, that those qualities that make the
excellence of this subordinate style, appear in him with the greatest
lustre.' The Crucifixion at Antwerp is his masterpiece; the Allegories
of Mary de Medici in the Louvre his largest work; but some of the most
finished smaller pictures which we have seen are in the Rubens-gallery,
in the palace of Frederic at Potzdam.

The contemporaries of Rubens were independent masters or disciples.
Among the former were Van Voss Strada, Miel Savary Seegers; among the
latter, Snyders, Jordains, Teniers, and especially Vandyke. Rather
later, lived Schwaneveldt in landscape, and Neef for interiors, &c.;
but the influence of the principles or precepts of Rubens animated
the whole of their efforts. In point of manner and subject, Teniers
and Vandyke may in some measure be considered as forming the extremes
of the Flemish schools, though in respect of merit they stand in the
first rank. Teniers, for instance, connects the Flemish with the Dutch
style, being more elevated in the general tone of his conceptions
and manner than the latter, while he has selected a less dignified
walk than Rubens. He has painted with exquisite truth, and very great
beauty of pencil, the customs, scenes, amusements, and character of his
countrymen. Vandyke, again, in the grace and dignity of his portraits,
in the intellectuality of his expression and composition, seems to
effect a junction between the common and broad nature of the native
taste, with the ideal of Italian art. The pictures painted by Vandyke
during the early period of his residence in England, are among the
finest specimens of portraiture. Here, indeed, in some respects, as the
clearness and transparency of his carnations, he is excelled only by
Titian,--in the graceful air of the heads, and beautiful drawing of
the extremities, he reminds us of Raphael,--while, to these qualities,
he has added a silvery tone of pencilling, which, more so than in any
other master, gives back the delicate and varied hues of real flesh
and skin. He has hardly succeeded in history, more, however, from want
of practice than genius; for his alleged want of fancy seems not so
apparent as has been supposed. In Vandyke, we find a most striking
proof that excellence in art is founded upon no abstract theory of the
ideal, but in selecting, and sedulously adhering to, some one view of
nature: hence--hence alone,

  'The soft precision of the clear Vandyke.'

What Rubens had accomplished for the Flemish school in giving to it
nationality and a head, Rembrandt some time after conferred upon that
of Holland; but between the two cases there is this difference,--the
former has identified his principles and reputation with the whole of
succeeding art in his country,--these principles, also, are founded
in a more comprehensive view of nature and of imitation; the latter
has merely given a consistency to the scattered details and individual
artists of the Dutch school, by concentrating attention upon one, while
he has given a singular but most powerful delineation of nature. He
stands alone, not only among his countrymen, a gigantic workman among
the minute laborers of cabbages, butchers' shops, and green-grocers'
stalls, but he is a solitary master in the schools of Europe. The
style of Rembrandt it is easy to distinguish, but difficult to
characterise. It is at once natural and highly artificial--original,
yet excessively mannered. It is natural: for every object, no
matter what, is represented just as it appears, without alteration,
improvement, or addition--but the medium of visibility, if the
expression may be allowed, the mode in which nature is exposed, is a
complete artifice; no inventor was ever more original in his system,
but none less varied in its application;--if we have seen one picture
of Rembrandt, we have seen all, as far as respects his principles,
for he has only two. In his practice he is at once bold, even to
coarseness, and elaborately finished--his coloring is delicate, yet
placed frequently in lumps upon the canvass. But to attempt a positive
description: of the two principles of the Dutch master, one respects
the manner of delineating, the other of exhibiting, nature. He appears
to have regarded art as without power or control, over the character
or form of the subject--these were to be most faithfully preserved,
and most minutely copied. This formed his first principle, to which
he has most rigidly adhered. But as natural objects present different
modifications in appearance, according to the quantity and direction
of the light which falls upon them, and since this can be artificially
varied at the will of the artist, here Rembrandt fixed his second, and
what may be termed his ideal principle. In the schools of Italy, we
have seen that the management of light had been brought to very great
perfection, especially by Titian, Corregio, and their best instructed
followers. Their method was diffusion--to unite, by secondary, the
principal lights, and both, by a gradation of under-tone, with the
darkest shadows, avoiding strong contrasts. Indeed, the Venetian
master has shown, in his practice, that strong opposition, neither
of light nor color, was necessary to powerful effect; and Corregio,
on the same principle, has painted much in demi, or neutral tone.
These precepts Rubens also had discovered in his Italian studies, and
afterwards constantly practised; Vandyke, by the same method, has
given that extraordinary softness and delicacy which sits so divinely
upon his female countenances. Rembrandt pursued a method directly the
reverse; he concentrated his light into one meteoric blaze, directed
in full power upon one spot--to which all other forms are sacrificed
in deep gloom--and upon which the whole riches of his palette are
heaped. He placed nature, as it were, in a dungeon, while, through
one solitary loophole, the beam of heaven seems, with ten-fold force,
to penetrate to the object of the artist's immediate contemplation.
This, spreading a dazzling, yet solemn light over all, invests the
commonest forms with an unknown interest, and gives to the grossest and
most unclassical imitation an elevated and romantic character,--just
as the uncertain gloom of twilight mantles in the shadowy terrors and
strange shapes, objects, the most familiar in ordinary day. In the same
style are painted the landscapes of Rembrandt, equally valued, and
more true than even his figures. The rest of the Dutch masters have
little of distinctive excellence; the imitation of all is wonderful in
its fidelity, minuteness, and beauty; but human talent, and weeks of
precious time, wasted upon a cabbage leaf, or a few fish upon a board,
is after all but a melancholy theme, which we shall despatch with a
catalogue of names. Before or contemporary with Rembrandt, who died in
1674, we have Hæmskirk, Both, Metzu, Blæmart, Breenberg, Polemberg,
Bhergem, Cuyp, Wynants, Heem, Mieris, Vangoyn, Schalken, Van der
Neer, Van der Warf. A higher class of artists were Wouvermans, Laar,
and Gherard Douw, the most careful of painters. These and others now
mentioned placed the ideal of art in the most scrupulous delineation
of nature--the most elaborate truth and transparent coloring; and it
cannot be denied, that they approached their ideal nearer than did the
Italian masters to theirs. But more glory accrued from the attempt than
in the success.

The arts of the Low Countries, so long an appendage of the crown of
Spain, naturally lead to those of that kingdom. No regular Spanish
school of painting appears at any time to have existed, though the art
has been very successfully practised by numerous artists. Of these
the chief are Velasquez, equally eminent in history and portrait; and
Murillo, a delightful colorist, and distinguished for natural feeling,
though often vulgar, and rarely dignified, in his choice of forms.
He is the most original of all the great masters of Spain, who have
generally been indebted to Italy. Morales, Herrera, with many others,
might be mentioned, but we have not seen their works. The principal
seats of painting, in Spain, were Madrid and Seville; the school holds
intermediate rank between those of Venice and Flanders--its chief
beauty is truth of character, natural expression and fine coloring,
correct, but not elevated, design.

In France, or by French artists, painting has been practised with
much individual success; and though academies have been formed, and
government protection long and liberally afforded, it would yet be
difficult exactly to describe in what the characteristics of the
national style of art in France consist. In that country, taste, as
respects painting, has fluctuated more, and from the first has been
less deeply impressed with original traits, than as regards any other
of the fine arts. Voltaire has remarked, that a people may have a
music and poetry pleasing only to themselves, and yet both good; but
in painting, though their genius may be peculiar, it can be genuine
only as it is agreeable to, and prized by, all the world. Tried by this
rule, French painting seems to be neither correct nor pleasing, and it
is not universal, that is inventive, in its peculiarity of manner. In
her early efforts, France was indebted to Italy, and in her subsequent
labors the Italian method of design has prevailed; indeed, her artists
have here rather copied than imitated, adding, no doubt, what have
been termed _les graces Françoises_--an expression ill-naturedly, but
not without truth, translated, 'French grimaces.' It is rare, perhaps
impossible, to find originality where taste has not been naturally,
and to a considerable extent, cultivated prior to the introduction
of extrinsic knowledge. Art borrowed in a state of forwardness,
can receive no new nor valuable modifications from unskilful hands
and unpractised fancy. On the other hand, when thought has been
independently exercised, refinement, engrafted upon its bold, though
perhaps rude strength, will receive novel combinations and freshness
of character, while the reception of more perfect modes in the same
walk, will but improve the faculties, without oppressing the powers,
of native genius. Again, the fluctuations of painting observable
during its progress in France, appear to have arisen chiefly from the
influence which favorite masters have been able to exercise over the
art universally in that country. Nor has the influence often been that
of pure talent. Court intrigue, during the most favorable epochs, has
raised to court employment, and consequently to pre-eminence in the
honors and emoluments of his profession, some individual, who thus
became possessed of the means of rendering his brethren eager to obtain
his countenance by imitation of his style. Thus we have the schools
of Vouet, of Le Brun, of David, distinguished merely by adherence to
the particular manner of these masters; with some exception in the
last, which is founded most on general principles. This, however, is
only an effect growing out of a far more general cause of imperfection
in French art, namely, the absence of all true national interest.
Among the French, painting has hitherto, during the most prosperous
periods, formed the amusement or the luxury of their rulers; though
as contributing to the external pomp, splendor, and show of their
'_monarchie_,' the people have been trained to applaud. There never
has been mutual sympathy between the artist and his countrymen; he
drew his encouragement, and looked for his reward, from other and far
less ennobling inspiration than their praise. That incense which not
unfrequently was really kindled at the Muses' flame, was burnt before
the idols set up by a despot, instead of being offered to the majesty
of national feeling. In confirmation of these remarks, so congenial
with the whole history of art as an intellectual attainment, we have
only to refer to the reigns of Louis XIII., XIV., XV.; more especially
of the second, whose selfish glory, the pursuit of his entire life,
converted the most splendid of the arts into a vehicle of adulation,
through fulsome and direct flattery, or glaring and far-fetched
allegory. If, during the recent order of things, more respect was paid
to real merit, and less to cabal than formerly, the same, nearly,
was the isolation of the art from popular enthusiasm--it was still
under the same thraldom to the cold and selfish aggrandisement of an
individual; or, where this object seemed more directly connected with
national exultation, the art was exercised on a theme, whose violent
and artificial aspect is, throughout, unvaried, entirely destructive
of natural expression and discrimination of character. The gold and
glitter of military portraits--the unromantic combinations of modern
warfare, with its mechanical levelling of distinctive peculiarities,
were little calculated to rectify--they increased--the errors and the
wants of French painting; while that which is absolutely good was
derived from the colder forms of sculpture.

The most ancient labours of the art in France appear to have been
on glass, and, as in every other country, dedicated to the service
of religion. Of these primitive specimens, many still remain of
considerable beauty, as in the church of St Genevieve at Paris.
Another method, common also to Germany, and which, in the fourteenth
century, had assumed the appearance of a regular and important branch
of ingenuity, was a species of enamel, formed by the fusion of
metallic colors with glass. Of this method, many remains of surprising
beauty occur in the early part of the fifteenth century, which, with
the Gothic paintings already described, seem to have exercised the
ingenuity of his subjects, till the exertions of Francis I. for their
improvement brought artists from Italy. Among these was the great
Leonardo, who died at Fontainbleau, in the arms of this monarch, in
1524, and before he had exercised his pencil in France. Copies of his
works, especially of the Last Supper, were executed for Francis, who
was desirous of carrying off the original with the wall upon which it
is painted.[B]

The intervening period from the death of Francis to the commencement of
the seventeenth century, torn by religious dissension, distracted by
the heartless intrigue, and still more heartless massacres perpetrated
by the Catholic party, threw France back in the career of improvement.
The splendid reign of Henry of Navarre was favorable indeed both to
the fine and useful arts; but, as in the former age, foreign, and
principally Flemish artists, were employed. The imbecile Louis XIII.
has the credit of having first formed a native school of painting, or
rather, perhaps, in this reign, advantage was first taken of those
various circumstances which had gradually been forming both skill and
taste in France. This, like every other measure of the same period, is
to be attributed to the prime minister, Richelieu, founder also of the
Academy. This was the source whence were supplied the artists of the
succeeding reign, who were principally disciples of Vouet, the first
French master of eminence, born in 1582, but whose merits in the nobler
walks of art would not otherwise entitle him to notice.

The glory, not only of this period, but of the history of French art,
is Nicholas Poussin--the classic and the virtuous Poussin. To his
contemporaries, however, or to the retainers in the halls of Louis,
he did not properly belong. Born in 1594, he had formed his taste by
a residence of nearly twenty years in Italy, before he was invited,
in 1639, to a pension and an apartment in the Tuileries. From the
cabals of a court, and the petty jealousy of the inferior Vouet, he
fled beyond the Alps to his own loved Rome, never to return. There he
conversed more with antiquity than with living men. Thence originated
the grand defect of his style. 'We never,' says a moralist, 'live out
of our age, without missing something which our successors will wish
we had possessed.' This is especially true in the present instance.
The characteristics of the works of Poussin are extreme correctness of
form and costume, great propriety in keeping, and the most enchanting
simplicity of design. These beauties he derived from constant study and
deep knowledge of ancient sculpture. While he thus followed closely one
of the sources of excellence, he, however, neglected the other, and,
in painting, the more important--nature. Hence the frequent want of
interest--the defects of expression--the cold and sombre coloring--the
absence of that breathing similitude which animates even the subjects
of his intense contemplation. But the ancient sculptors were not
satisfied with nature at second-hand--the great cause of failure in
the painter. The perfections of their statues he transferred to his
canvass, forgetting that these were copied from men. In the choice of
his subject, and manner of representing its incidents, Poussin has
few equals; in his pictures, too, there is always a most charming
harmony of thought--the scene--the figures--the handling--even the
forms of inanimate objects in his landscapes, all have an antique air,
transporting the imagination into an ideal world. Hence, of all those
who have made the attempt, Poussin has best succeeded in classical

Louis XIV., who commenced his reign in 1643, resolved to complete the
intentions of his predecessor, in giving to France a school of native
artists; and, by the institution of academies, conferring rewards, and
raising to honors, so far accomplished his purpose, as respected the
cultivation of the art by Frenchmen, to a very considerable extent.
The school, however, thus created, was composed of imitators in their
profession, and flatterers of their royal patron. True, vigorous,
original genius, lives not to be called forth at the smile of a
monarch, nor by permission to display its powers in painted panegyrics
on the walls of a palace. As well might we expect, in the artificial
atmosphere of the hothouse, the strength, and beauty, and freshness,
which bloom amid glades and groves, freely visited by the pure breath
of heaven.

The great master of this school was Le Brun, for so the Scotch name
of Brown, from a family of which name he was descended, has been
translated. He was born in 1619, of a family long attached to the
practice of the arts, and became the favorite pupil of Vouet, whose
precepts in many respects he too faithfully retained. Yet Le Brun
had good capabilities,--a lively fancy, great dexterity of hand, and
not unfrequently noble conceptions. But in all things he is too
artificial--a defect never redeemable by any display even of the most
splendid technical qualities. In the paintings of Le Brun, the want
of simplicity is conspicuous in the forced attitudes of his figures,
and in their too systematic expression. Both these imperfections have
resulted from the same cause--neglect of nature, neglect operating by
different effects. In the former case, the artist has designed too
much from memory, or--a common fault, we should be inclined to say, in
French art--has taken his attitudes from the theatre. In the second,
it is easy to perceive, that he aimed at reducing the infinite and
minute changes, of expression to a theory of academic rules; indeed,
his pictures are but commentaries, in this respect, upon his celebrated
treatise on the Passions. The coloring in these performances is
glaring, without firmness of shadow, and the local tones are false;
hence the general effect is shallow, with a monotony of hue, arising,
not so much from want of variety in the tints, as from error in
keeping. The best works of Le Brun are the five grand pictures from
the life of Alexander, which, notwithstanding the defects inherent in
his style, are productions of dignity and grandeur, exhibiting great
fertility both of composition and of resource in mechanic art; but
surely Voltaire must intend his assertion to be restricted to France,
when he says, that engravings of these paintings are more sought after
than those of the battles of Constantine, by Raphael and Julio Romano.

The truth of the preceding remarks on the causes which have
contributed, in France, to the mediocrity of painting, is placed in
a striking view by the tyranny, the absolute despotism, in which
Le Brun was enabled to lord it over his contemporaries, whether
painters, sculptors, or architects. Every one was forced to become
the observant servitor of him whom the court favored, or enjoyed the
option of remaining unemployed. Such was the fate of Le Sueur, not
merely the superior of Le Brun, but, with the exception of Poussin,
to whom even in some respects he is more than equal, the best painter
France has ever produced--the sole one in whose works are found natural
simplicity and repose. He took Raphael for his model, whose feeling,
sober grace, and internal dignity, do not contribute even now to render
his imitation popular. If Le Sueur were less frequently inferior to
himself, he would have stood in the first rank of his profession,
though he died in 1655, at the early age of thirtyeight. Bourdon,
Valentin, and Megnard, were also contemporaries, and in some respects
equals, of Le Brun.

To this period, though only by chronology, and to France merely by
birth, belongs Claude Gelee, better known as Claude Lorrain, from his
native province, where he was born in 1600, dying in his 88th year at
Rome, where he resided during the greater part of the reigns of Louis
XIII. and XIV., having never crossed the Alps after leaving home as the
runaway apprentice of a pastry cook. To this artist, self-taught, and
at first apparently more than commonly incapable, landscape painting
owes its interest and its loveliness as a separate and dignified
branch of art. In the sweetest, as in the most brilliant, effects of
light--from the first blush of day to the fall of dewy eve, Claude
is unrivalled, or even unapproached, if in one or two instances we
except our own Wilson. The aerial perspective, and the liquid softness
of the tones, in his pictures,--the leafing, forms, and branching
of the trees, the light flickering clouds, the transparency of hue,
the retiring distances, all make as near approaches to nature as it
is possible for art to accomplish. Still there is one grand defect
in the representations of Claude, which to a degree destroys the
natural effect of their constituent features;--they are too frequently
compositions, or what are termed heroic landscape. This certainly
heightens the charm merely as respects the imagination, but detracts
from the still deeper interests of reality. For this practice, which,
indeed, is too common with landscape painters, there can be found also
no plea, till it has been proved that the majesty and variety of nature
are unequal to the powers of the pencil.

The French painters of the eighteenth century were numerous, and on the
whole superior to those of the same era in Italy. Throughout the whole,
however, we detect the principles of the school of Louis XIV., as
respects the individual qualities of the art; while in the philosophy
of taste, more especially as affects painting, are discoverable the
effects of the mechanical and systematic criticism--the mere pedantry
of learning, which, originating with the writers of that age, spread
over Europe, nor, in art, is yet entirely exploded. Cases is one of the
most eminent of native artists, who was overlooked during his lifetime;
but what is the meaning of Voltaire's remark on this artist? 'Chaque
nation cherche à se faire valoir; les Français font valoir les autres
nations en tout genre.' The taste of this writer in the fine arts is
not less contemptible than in the principles of nobler literature, and
in religion. The tawdry nudities which we have seen still suspended
in the _Salle de Tableaux_, at Ferney, are a practical testimony of
the one fact; and, place serving, it would be no difficult matter to
prove the other, or rather, we trust, it needs no exposition. Santerre
studied nature, designs with correctness, and colors agreeably, but he
rises not above mediocrity; nor will it be admitted, as asserted by
his countrymen, that his picture of Adam and Eve is one of the best in
modern art. The two Parrocels and Bourgoyn painted combats, chiefly
of horsemen. Jouvenet shows talent in design, but colors too yellow;
is remarkable as having painted in old age with his left hand. Rigaud
is called the French Rubens. Le Moine, in the Apotheosis of Henry IV.
at Versailles, has left a striking and well-colored composition, but
one of those incongruous allegories, which, during the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries, formed the besetting sin of French art. La
Fosse, the two Boulognes, De Troy, Raous, Tremoilliere, and especially
Vanloo, in history; Vateau, in grotesque subjects; Desportes and Audry,
in animals; Vernet, the admirable marine painter, with others of less
note, bring down our researches to the middle of the last century.

The founder and the representative of the modern French school is
David. Born in 1750, he early saw and forsook the conventional
feebleness, and, to a great degree, the false glare, of contemporaries,
and thus merits the appellation of restorer of art. Unfortunately,
however, he engaged in other revolutions than those of taste, and
participated too largely in the atrocities which desecrated the close
of last century. As one of the regicides, he was, at the restoration,
driven into exile--a useless severity, which might have been spared
in favor of one who has contributed largely to the solid glory of his
country. He died at Brussels in 1825. The leading defect of preceding
art in France, is a want of dignified and correct form; next, of simple
and natural expression. The former the genius of David detected, and
sought to apply the remedy in the careful study of antique sculpture.
In this he has been far from unsuccessful; his drawing is most correct,
his style of design noble, but both are cold and without feeling.
The second defect David either did not discover, or has failed in
rectifying. The system which he pursued was in part excellent, but
he followed it too exclusively. Statuary can give little to painting
beyond form and proportion--the essentials, indeed--but expression,
action, not less true and dignified, but more varied, and composition,
not to mention coloring, must be added from nature. Here David has
failed. He either conceived that the artists who preceded him wanted
only form to render French art perfect, or that, by grouping the
statuary of ancient Greece in more violent and complicated action, and
with more vehemence of expression, pictures would be produced, such,
to use his own words, 'that if an Athenian were to return to this
world, they might appear to him the works of a Greek painter.' Like
Poussin, then, he lived too much for antiquity, and too little with
the present; but if Poussin has often given to representations of the
most perfect art, instead of delineations of nature, he has at least
depicted antiquity as it is, in all its simplicity and perfect repose.
David has not done this; he has completely changed, nay, inverted, the
character of ancient art, by adding exaggerated expression and forced
attitude. The coloring is also very indifferent; for though highly
finished, the effect is hard and dry, without sweetness or depth; and
while the general tone inclines to the bronze or metallic, the local
tints are feeble or untrue. Here, likewise, we discover an endeavor
at improvement failing through neglect of the proper object of study.
Wishing to avoid the glaring hues of his predecessors, David has
fallen into the opposite extreme from overlooking the living subject.
The grouping, too, participates in the meagreness inseparable from
the system, the arrangement of the figures often approaching to the
basso-relievo, where they necessarily stand in lines, while, to relieve
the sameness thus produced, the forms are violently and ungracefully
contrasted in themselves. Of this a striking instance occurs in the
famous picture of the Horatii, who are ranged rank and file, receding
from the spectator, so that only one is completely seen, the heads
of the others being in profile, each with an arm and foot extended,
one, by way of variety, reaching forth his left hand to take the oath
dictated by the father, who stands on the opposite side! Without
doubt, however, David was a man of great genius, and when he errs, it
is more through defect of system than of talent; but the former being
his own creation, he stands responsible for its faults. Besides that
just quoted, his best performances are Leonidas with the Spartans at
Thermopylæ, one of the best colored of his pictures, but the figure
of the chief wants majesty; the Death of Socrates is destitute of
that solemnity of repose, yet activity of feeling, which we have been
accustomed to associate with the scene; the Funeral of Patroclus--a
fine antique composition, but French in feeling; the Coronation of
Napoleon--a splendid failure; the Rape of the Sabines--much fine
drawing, and the usual share of bustle--expression extravagant, yet
cold. In portrait, as might have been anticipated from the range of
his studies, David was unequal to himself. His best performances in
this walk are the numerous likenesses of his imperial patron. We have
seen the original sketch for one of these, which indeed was never
afterwards touched, taken during the last few hours of undiminished
power possessed by Napoleon in Paris. The greater part of the preceding
day and night had been spent in arranging the final operations of the
campaign which terminated in the battle of Waterloo. When now past
midnight, instead of retiring to repose, the emperor sent for David, to
whom he had promised to sit, and who was in waiting in an apartment of
the Tuileries. 'My friend,' said Napoleon to the artist, on entering,
'there are yet some hours till four, when we are finally to review the
defences of the capital; in the meantime, _faites votre possible_--(do
your utmost), while I read these despatches.' But exhausted nature
could hold out no longer; the paper dropt from the nerveless hand, and
Napoleon sunk to sleep. In this attitude the painter has represented
him. The pale and lofty forehead, the careworn features, the relaxed
expression, the very accompaniments, wear an impress inexpressibly
tender and melancholy. With the dawn Napoleon awoke, and springing to
his feet, was about to address David, when a taper just expiring in
the socket arrested his eye. Folding his arms on his breast, a usual
posture of thought, he contemplated in silence its dying struggles.
When with the last gleam the rays of the morning sun penetrated through
the half closed window-curtains, 'Were I superstitious,' said Napoleon,
a faint smile playing about his beautiful mouth, 'the first object
on which my sight has rested this day might be deemed ominous; but,'
pointing to the rising sun, 'the augury is doubtful--at least, the
prayer of the Grecian hero will be accorded,--we shall perish in light!'


THE history of Painting in England embraces only a very recent period
in the annals of the art. But though chronologically, as well as from
the peculiar interest of the subject, it is to be treated last, this
arrangement is not adopted from the same motive as actuates foreign
critics, namely, the alleged inferiority of British painting. It has
been shown, we trust satisfactorily, that in the real condition of
taste, in the modes of practice and in the principles of theory, our
school of Sculpture, though not equal in specimens yet produced, is
superior to every other, not only now, but formerly, in Europe. In
favor of our painters, we go further--and yet not so far. Pictures,
and in more than one branch, painted in this country, and by native
living artists, can be produced superior to any contemporary examples
in any part of the Continent; but, in its theoretic principles, and
in the practice introduced in consequence of these, the English
school has sadly departed from the perfect labours and just science
of the old masters. This has arisen from following a course in some
respects opposite to that which has been adopted in sculpture, as
shall hereafter be the endeavor to point out. Again, if we review our
early history, it appears, that in the ages immediately subsequent to
the revival of art, native artists in this country, in the ingenious
processes then known, were not inferior to contemporary names in Italy,
France, or Germany. It is sufficient here merely to refer to Walpole's
interesting work; in which it is shown, that before the middle of the
thirteenth century, two hundred years prior to Van Eyck, evidences are
found of oil-painting in England; and that in the fourteenth, painting
on glass, heraldic emblazonment, the illumination of manuscripts, with
all the similar approaches to elegance then practised, were cultivated
among our ancestors, and by natives whose names are preserved, with
equal success as elsewhere.

Causes, therefore, originating in the moral and political condition
of the people, can alone explain the striking inferiority of English
art during the period of greatest splendor in its modern history. The
opinions, indeed, promulgated by the French and Italian writers, not
excepting Winklemann, and so complacently entertained even now on the
Continent, respecting the deleterious influence of climate upon English
genius, are, in their philosophy, too contemptible to merit serious
investigation. Nor are similar theories of our own and other authors
exempted from this censure, which ascribe excellence, as for instance
in ancient Greece, to the propitious effects of the same physical
cause. The mighty and the immortal energies of the human mind are
independent of all other external causes; they will bear up against all
other external pressure--save moral and political degradation.

In fact, art in England was crushed almost in its cradle by the civil
wars of York and Lancaster. Warfare between different nations, where
the struggle is from rivalry of interests or empire, rather favors the
developement of national talent; the activity of martial achievement
conveys, through all the relations of citizenship, and to every
field of honorable exertion, a corresponding vigor and elasticity
of mind--an ardent love of glory and of country--raising high the
spirit of emulation, yet binding closer the ties of fellowship. In the
unhallowed commotion of civil contest, all these effects are reversed;
while in England, the desecration of country consequent on such feuds
was deeper than perhaps in any other instance of modern times, from
religion, which in other states, under like unhappy circumstances, had
afforded an asylum to arts and to peace, here taking part with the
combatants. These political divisions healed, religious dissensions
broke in upon the national quiet, at a time, too, when a taste for
the fine arts was gaining ground in the different states of Europe.
When at length every animosity and partial feeling had subsided in
the generous consciousness of being Englishmen, an eager thirst for
nautical enterprise engaged the minds of the subjects of Elizabeth and
James. The wealth, security, and information which flowed from these
exertions, were beginning to create taste, and to provide means highly
favorable to the future progress of painting. The predilections of
Charles, likewise, as also his knowledge, were calculated to improve
and to direct in the best manner these advantages. The collection of
pictures which he formed was the most valuable then in Europe, and
composed of pieces especially adapted to a national gallery, and to
the design of creating a native school. The most eminent artists of
the age, invited to his court, found their labors at once skilfully
appreciated and munificently rewarded. This unfortunate monarch had
the satisfaction to perceive the refinement beginning to spread among
his subjects, even in the remotest and least opulent portion of his
dominions. In Scotland, Jamieson, born at Aberdeen, in 1586, and pupil
of Rubens, has left, in the universities of his native place and
elsewhere, fruits of his genius which by no means show him unworthy
of the appellation of the Scottish Vandyke. To this painter Charles
sat, and further distinguished him by peculiar marks of royal favor.
In England, painting was naturally still more flourishing in prospect;
the nobles imitated, and some shared in, the taste of their sovereign,
while a love of elegant acquirement was generally diffused. This
period, also, was highly favorable to a new and aspiring epoch in
English art, from the great and original acquirements previously made
in poetry and elegant literature, which both prepared the public mind
to relish similar displays of talent in a cognate branch; while they
evinced and cherished that creative spirit which may render available
the introduction of improved modes, without degenerating into imitation
in its own efforts. The progress of successful art in Greece, and in
republican Italy, with the absence of nationality in that of ancient
Rome and of modern France, exhibits the justice of the remark, and the
importance of the acquisition. The reign of Charles, I., thus appears
to have been one of the most favorable periods in our history for the
foundation of a British school of art; indeed, we perceive that every
essential towards this had been accomplished. The fearful concussions
which closed in blood the career of that unhappy monarch, while they
shook the entire realm from its propriety, proved more pernicious to
the cultivation of the arts of elegance, than has usually been the case
even in civil commotion. The lowest and most illiterate, now armed with
some degree of power, destroyed, because they knew not how to value;
while the coarse hypocrisy and more dangerous cunning, or the stern
bigotry, of their leaders, viewed with the malignity of ignorance, or
the hatred of party, all evidence of superior refinement.

In thus rapidly reviewing the leading causes which have concurred to
retard the progress of early art in this country, the Reformation has
been merely alluded to as turning aside attention to other pursuits.
The commonly received opinion which makes this event a primary and
permanent source of our inferiority, seems to rest on a very imperfect
knowledge of facts. When the glorious doctrines of the Reformation
obtained footing in England, no advance had yet been effected in
the formation of a native school; the national refinement was in no
degree prepared for the successful cultivation of painting; nor do
any circumstances particularly favorable induce the belief, that had
the Catholic continued to be the established faith, the arts would
have improved. On the contrary, though the number of pictures would
doubtless have multiplied, these, as in France at the same period, and
under circumstances incomparably more felicitous, must have been the
works of foreign artists; consequently, by introducing an artificial
manner before any national character of art had been formed, the
exoteric taste would, in all probability, have for ever bound up in
conventional trammels, the freshness of original conception, and the
vigor of national genius. Such we have seen to be the invariable
effects of introducing, instead of rearing, art, among every people
where the experiment has been attempted. The Reformation, by restoring
to the human mind the uncontrolled exercise of its own faculties, by
unlocking the barriers by which the will and the powers of free inquiry
had been imprisoned, has stamped upon every British institution, as
upon every effort of British talent, the worth and the manliness of
independent character. Our Fine Arts, though the last to feel, do at
length experience this happy influence.

The particular views entertained, or rather taken up without
examination, have led, on this subject, to erroneous conceptions,
both of the existing condition of art, and of the state of royal
patronage. Henry VIII. certainly endeavored by every means to induce
the most esteemed painters of the age to visit his court; while the
encouragement which he offered was not only continued, but increased
with more ample means, after the Reformation had commenced; as far as
his influence went, there was a change for the better. But his was
neither a cultivated nor a natural taste. The sentiment was merely one
of rivalry, stirred up by imitation of his contemporaries, Francis I.
and Charles V. His subjects and courtiers, not even animated by such
factitious impulse, were, generally speaking, still less qualified
to assist in rearing national art. Neither did there exist, in any
other form, a previous standard of characteristic originality; a most
important consideration, as already shown--for, with the exception of
Surrey, no poet of genius capable of giving to taste an abiding tone
of nationality had yet appeared. Under these circumstances, had the
importation of foreign art--and it is clear none other could have been
encouraged--taken place to any extent; even had Raphael and Titian
accepted the invitation of the English monarch, beyond bare possession,
their works would have been valueless to the nation; or worse--they
would have depressed, by an unapproachable model, the aspirings of
native talent, fixing for ever our arts in the mediocrity of imitation.

The opposition, also, which the Reformers are accused of having bent
against the practice of painting has been altogether misrepresented.
Not only were they not opposed to such acquirements in their proper
place, but the assurance is, that they viewed such accomplishments with
favor. Among the earliest Reformers, the movers of that emancipation
which regenerated a portion, and made despotism more tolerable in the
rest, of Europe, were to be found the most accomplished minds and the
most elegant scholarship of which the age could boast. Indeed, their
superior enlightenment was the human means of that liberty, in which
through Christ they had become free. For such men to be the enemies
of intelligence, of whatever description, if under proper guidance,
and in due subserviency to higher knowledge, was to place obstacles
to the spread of their own principles. Hence in Germany and in the
Low Countries, the fine arts were admired and patronised by the
leading Reformers. Holbein came to England most warmly recommended by
Luther, who has already been named as the friend of other contemporary
artists. In one respect, the Reformers certainly may be said to have
been hostile to art. They proscribed the introduction of pictures into
their churches. To this prohibition only, extended the penal statutes
of Henry, Edward, and Elizabeth, about which so much outcry has been
raised. No proscription, no interdict against religious paintings
merely as such, was agitated, till the period already alluded to as the
most truly disastrous to national refinement, when, in 1643, a bigoted
parliament ordered, 'that all pictures which had the representation of
the Saviour or the Virgin Mary in them should be burned.' The brutal
fanaticism, and still more disgusting hypocrisy, of the adherents
of Oliver Cromwell, have in this and in similar instances been most
unjustly mixed up with the pure spirit and unsullied zeal of the
genuine followers of Martin Luther. It is not intended, however, indeed
it cannot be denied, that to the mere practice of painting, and to
the multiplication of its labours, the exclusion of pictures from the
churches is injurious. But extension is not improvement.

So far, then, the Reformation has proved permanently hostile to the
art. But highly as we honor the talent of artisanship, and intimately
connected as is the glory of the land with the reputation of its arts,
we cannot for one moment entertain the proposal now so generally, it
had almost been said unblushingly, brought forward, of converting
our churches 'into spacious repositories' for the productions of the
pencil. Here we have explicitly to state an opinion, though opposed
by almost every writer on the arts; first, that neither is the house
of God a proper receptacle for pictures; nor, secondly, if every
Protestant place of worship were open to such ornaments, is it clear
that art would be materially advantaged. Let our sacred edifices be as
nobly simple, as massively grand, as may be; let them exhibit every
beauty of architecture, if needful; the effect will elevate, without
distracting, the mind; or let the solemn representations of sculpture
invite remembrance to dwell upon the departed, who sleep around the
living worshipper. Such thoughts prepare the mind for its duties.
But pictures do not seem so immediately associated, either with the
place or with our meditations; with us, the only association is that
of mere ornament. We might, however, be accused of treating here the
subject too seriously, were an attempt made to show the sinfulness
of abducing even one thought from heaven, to fix it on a merely
ornamental appendage. We shall therefore suppose, that in our country,
people do not go to church to see pictures, and that, as elsewhere,
pictures are here painted to be seen. Now, the time of divine service
with us is short, and that space is passed, without intermission, in
sacred duties, in prayer, in praise, and in exhortation. Either these
momentous engagements or the pictures must be neglected. In the Romish
church the service is long, composed of many ceremonies in which the
audience take no share, and during which, the mind may be employed in
contemplating a religious painting, with at least equal profit as the
dressings and undressings, the crossings, genuflexions, perambulations,
and incensings, which are being enacted by the officials. In a
Protestant assembly, every one is seated in his place; a picture can
be viewed properly from a very few points, perhaps only one; granting,
then, all the advantages 'of pictures in unison with the feelings of
the mind, exemplifying in the most striking manner the objects of its
highest admiration and respect,' how limited is the number that could
enjoy these? The Catholic church, again, knows not the impediment of
pews, and the individuals of the congregation may move and change
positions at pleasure. Protestant churches are open only on Sundays,
or a few fast days, while we have no useless train of idle retainers
to show the curiosities of the place; the Catholic church is open from
sunrise to sunset throughout the year, each with its sacristans,
vergers, macemen, &c. in constant attendance. In the Romish ritual,
external emblems are certainly permitted as stimulants to inward
devotion; of these, pictures are among the most favored. In our faith,
the symbols are simple as its practice, and too sacred even to be
named here. We have no wish, then, to decry the use or advantage of
paintings to the Catholic; but it seems sufficiently obvious, that to
the Protestant they can at best be useless in a place of public worship.

In reference to the second consideration, namely, the profit thus
accruing to the arts of the country, it has been stated above, that
only to the multiplication of paintings has the exclusion in question
proved hurtful, and not to the improvement or perfection of the art.
In this respect the merits of the Reformation have not only been
overlooked, but denied, while the claims of Catholicism, as favorable
to elegance, have been too highly exalted. True, a great proportion of
the patronage by which the arts have been supported in Italy has been
extended by churchmen; this has all been put down to the account of
the system. But it is to be remembered, that this protection has been
granted more frequently in the character of lay noblemen and princes,
than of ecclesiastics. The most splendid works of the pencil are in
the private palaces of the popes and cardinals, and other members of
the hierarchy; laymen with the same means would have acted similarly.
During the infancy of the arts, their feebleness was stayed, and their
vigorous manhood nourished, by the free corporations of the republican
cities. The Catholic Church only received the arts as orphans, after
her temporal, and therefore improper ambition, had destroyed their
true and natural parent--Liberty. At this moment, too, very few fine
pictures are in churches; they are in public galleries, in private
collections, in the cabinets of the curious, and in palaces. Where,
then, is the vaunted superiority in the Catholic profession, or where
the ancient and permanent disabilities under which Protestantism has
been represented as labouring, in regard to the arts of elegance? And
why should we incur even the possibility of contaminating the purity
and the spirituality of our faith, or of even offending the mind of the
humblest believer, by filling our churches with pictures, when there
remains to us the amplest field yet unoccupied? We have, in fact, all
that is yet in possession of high art; in our royal palaces, in the
almost regal seats of our nobility, in our national galleries, in the
halls of our universities and institutions, and in our public buildings
of every description. Has not the pencil 'ample verge' and 'room'

If these advantages have hitherto remained without fruit, let it be
remembered, that the defective returns have not been occasioned by
imbecility or idleness--the labourers have been otherwise engaged.
During only three centuries of poor and struggling Protestantism,
tenfold more extensive and valuable accessions to true knowledge have
been realized than were accomplished in the space of a thousand years
of the prosperous and uncontrolled empire of Catholicism. That this
uprousing of the human spirit has become not less refined than it has
been vigorous, is evident from the fact which connects these remarks
with our subject, namely, that now, in Protestant Britain, is to be
found the only original, and the most flourishing school of painting in

In pursuing the history of English art posterior to the Restoration,
little of importance occurs till the late and present reigns. Charles
II. had wit, but no great share of taste, and that little, like his
morals, was equally flimsy and meretricious. He trifled with Verrio
and Gennaro in decorating ceilings and covering walls; while Lely,
whose light and graceful, but feeble pencil, had in succession traced
the melancholy countenance of the Martyr, and the bluff face of the
Protector,[C] was employed as state portrait-painter on the sleepy and
luxurious beauties of the court. During the succeeding reigns, to the
accession of George I., lived Kneller, a native of Lubec, an artist of
considerable talent, but who painted too expeditiously to paint well,
and who was too intent upon sharing the wealth of his own age to leave
many drafts that would be honored by posterity, though he painted in
his life seven English and three foreign sovereigns. His head of Sir
Isaac Newton is worth them all. During the same period we find many
native artists of obscure fame and merits; as Dobson, who died in 1646,
and was brought into notice through the generosity of Vandyke. Riley,
(John), born in the same year, possessed, according to Walpole, more
talent than any of his countrymen. It was to this artist that Charles
II. said, 'Od's fish, man, if your picture of me be a likeness, I am
an ugly fellow.' Hoskins and Cooper, uncle and nephew, were celebrated
miniature-painters, especially the latter, who was married to a sister
of Pope's mother. Henry, who was employed by King William in the
reparation of Raphael's cartoons. Highmore painted the only portrait
known of the poet Young. Greenhill and Buckshorn were pupils of Lely.
Jervas, who, in spite of art, contrived to make a fortune and to set
up a carriage; upon which Kneller remarked, in his broken English,
'Ah, mine Cot! if de horses do not draw better dan he, de journey will
never have an end.' The praises lavished by Pope on this his master
evince the wretched condition of general taste, when we consider
these praises as merely the echo of the public voice. Richardson is
best known as a writer on art; though a very inferior artist, he stood
at the head of the profession on the death of Kneller. His scholar
and son-in-law, Hudson, succeeded in the dignity of metropolitan
portrait-painter, though opposed for some time by Liotard, a Genevese,
and Vanloo, a Frenchman. Hudson was the master of Reynolds, with
whom the British school first assumes the dignity of higher art, the
elevation commencing with the portraits painted by Sir Joshua on his
return from the Continent in 1752-3. Previously, however, had appeared
Hogarth, the most original of all painters; but his pictures, from
their subjects, were not calculated, in proportion to their merit, to
refine the national taste. So early, too, as 1739, the establishment
of the old academy in St Martin's Lane had been silently preparing
some melioration in a better manner of designing; and the introduction
of costume, though poorly executed, was an advance towards truth from
the absurd robes of Lely and Kneller. The association just mentioned
was afterwards incorporated by his late Majesty; but the members
disagreeing, the Royal Academy was founded. Here have presided the
three greatest names in the art since the time of Rubens and Vandyke,
perhaps since the Caracci--Reynolds, West, and Lawrence.

Walpole has with justice remarked, that 'in the commencement of the
reign of George I., in 1714, the arts of England were sunk almost to
their lowest ebb.' The preceding sketch verifies the observation; and
from the singular anomaly of a nation, during the most flourishing
period of its literature, possessing a taste absolutely contemptible
in the fine arts, evinces the truth of the principles advocated
throughout these pages. From the Restoration to the accession of
George III., the arts had never once been regarded as adding to
national respectability, nor as connected with national feeling. The
people crowded to have their portraits taken, without inquiring or
conceiving that there was anything to know beyond the mere mechanical
art. The sovereign, instead of regarding the progress of elegant taste
as an important object of legislation, looked out for a limner merely
as a necessary appurtenance of a court. As our monarchs of this period,
not even excepting Anne, through the predilections of her husband,
were, as regards painting, better acquainted with Continental art, and
some more attached to everything foreign, British genius, of course
overlooked, was never once called forth. Some stray Italian, Dutchman,
or German, was caught hold of, patronised by royalty, supported by the
nobility, and never thought of by the nation beyond face-painting in
the metropolis. From the middle of the seventeenth to the first forty
years of the eighteenth century, when national talent at length began
to break forth in its own strength, such was the state of patronage,
and the artists who enjoyed its benefits were but little qualified
to create a national interest; for their mannerism and foreign modes
served only the more decidedly to exclude a characteristic style,
and, as must ever be the case in similar instances, prevented any
developement of native originality. Another great cause of our wretched
taste in the arts, and which perhaps in part grew out of these more
general causes, was, that the real genius of the land was bent upon
the pursuits of literature and science; while the nation had not
attained that degree of refinement, security, and opulence, which
enable a people to enjoy and to reward the exertions of mind, as at the
present day, in all its separate and diversified departments of action.
Between literary eminence and excellence in art there seems a natural
connexion, as depending upon principles of taste and modes of exercise
nearly similar. Letters and the Fine Arts, then, have generally been
carried to the highest perfection among the same people; they have
flourished in conjunction, and they have fallen together. It is to be
remarked, however, that the former have always preceded; the noblest
effusions of poetry have long been the delight of his country before
the painter or the sculptor have reached an equal merit. Nor is this
casual precedence. The labours of the poet are a necessary, in fact a
creative preparation; by their rapid and wide circulation, they soften
the sensibilities, arouse the imagination, give to taste an existence
and a feeling of its object, and awake the mind to a consciousness of
its intellectual wants. They constitute, also, a common chronicle,
whether of fiction or of reality, whose events are clear to, and
quickly recognisable by all. Fancy thus obtains a lore of its own,
whose legends delight by repetition, and whose imagery animates the
canvass or the marble with forms loved of old. Poetry, then, must
precede art. All this advantage of preparation and expectancy was
denied to the infancy of English painting. Milton's verse, not inferior
to any precursor of Phidias or of Raphael, instead of being, as Homer's
or Dante's, for centuries the manual of his countrymen, was barely
known. Dryden, Addison, Pope, were yet but forming the public mind.
In many respects, too, even had there not existed artists capable
of constituting an epoch, the writings of these distinguished men
are not favorable to vigorous originality of thought in art. Their
own immediate productions are impressed with the genuine stamp of
nationality, but their abstract system of criticism is often timid,
almost always conventional; while in every remark on that subject,
they show inexperience of the true object and philosophy of art. Even
Addison here writes as a mere antiquarian, and Dryden with all the
enthusiasm of poetry indeed, but with little of the sober judgment
which must guide the more laborious hand and less undefined shapes of
the painter. Again, the intellectual temperament and state of society
favorable to the arts is directly opposed to those which promote
scientific knowledge. Indeed, between the spirit of analytical inquiry,
of minute research, which belongs to the investigations of science,
and the creative fancy which tends to the successful exercise of the
poet's or painter's art, the dissimilarity appears so great, that among
the same people and at the same period, high eminence in both has
never yet been attained. The amazing demonstrations of Newton, then,
and the profound speculations of Locke, were by no means favorable to
painting, while so entirely in infancy. They spread abroad a different
taste--they engaged in the pursuit every ardent and aspiring mind. The
sublime mysteries unveiled by the genius of Newton gave an especial
bias to men's minds, and caused his own age to view with indifference,
as light and valueless, pursuits which seemed but to minister to the
amenities of life, or to hang only as graceful ornaments upon society.

Having thus faintly traced the rise and progress of painting in
connexion with the history of the country, we now proceed briefly to
examine the principles and the practice of the British school, under
the general heads of Portrait, Historical, and Landscape Painting.


SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS is the founder of the English school. He is
also the author of much that presently forms the most objectionable
practice. Like every great artist, Sir Joshua must be viewed in two
lights--as he stands in reference to the circumstances of his own
age, and as an individual master in his profession. As the immediate
successor, then, of the artists already named, and as elevating
the art from their inanity to the state in which he left it, he
justly ranks among the small number who compose the reformers of
taste. In this aspect, his genius exhibits no ordinary claims to the
gratitude of posterity, while here his merits are presented in the
most favorable light. For when these are considered, on the other
hand, as regards the present influence of the principles upon which
the reformation, or perhaps commencement, of the English school was
established, there will be found defect both in practice and theory.
Indeed, the theoretical part of his professional education appears to
have been founded, in the first instance, upon the erroneous modes of
the writers of the age of Louis XIV., which were never laid aside,
though to a certain extent modified by his studies in Italy. In fact,
the pictures and the writings of Sir Joshua bear in this respect
a striking resemblance--that the beauties of each break forth in
despite of theory. Nature and good feeling, operating unrestrained,
give to his paintings their best graces, when the ideal perfection at
which he aimed has at happy moments been forgotten. In like manner,
his discourses are admirable, when they deliver practical precepts,
explain the suggestions of experience, or endeavor to reconcile refined
taste with common sentiment. But when they speak of the abstractions
and idealities of art, they become, and have already proved, most
treacherous guides. This he has himself exemplified, for he has
uniformly gone astray where he has implicitly followed these guides;
and it may be shown that the besetting sins of the English school
spring from the same sources. Sir Joshua's theory and his practice
were in more than one respect inconsistent, while neither adhered so
closely to, or at least did not render nature, so faithfully and so
minutely, as is desirable. His perceptions of form he derived, or
professed to derive, from Michael Angelo; but his practice is founded
upon the principles of Rembrandt. From the explanation of these already
given, with this anticipation, at some length, it must at once appear,
that they were little calculated kindly to amalgamate with the decided
lines, refined science, and lofty abstractions of the Florentine. But
even of these principles, Sir Joshua did not follow the most valuable
portion, namely, the rigid fidelity of imitation which they enjoined.
He adopted them only in their concentration of light, and deep contrast
of shadow, and in their massive coloring, intended for inspection at
a certain distance. Instead of careful resemblance, he substituted
middle forms, and large masses without details; or, to refer here to
his own words, which he has most directly illustrated in his whole
practice:--'the great style in art, and the most perfect imitation of
nature, consist in avoiding the details and peculiarities of particular
objects;' and again: 'the perfection of portrait painting consists in
giving the general idea or character, without individual peculiarities.'

Now, whether these principles be regarded as they affect the practice
of an imitative art, and more especially in the department of
portraiture; or whether they be examined in reference to the philosophy
of taste and composition in historical painting, we apprehend they
will be found not only reprehensible in themselves, but to be the
ground work upon which have been reared the present errors of our
school. It is for this reason that we shall examine them at some length.

There are two styles or modes of representation in painting, which
agree in producing the same general effect of resemblance, but differ
in the extent to which the resemblance of individual forms is carried;
or perhaps, if the expression be allowed, in the number of particular
similitudes composing the aggregate resemblance. It is evident from
this definition, that the portion of mental pleasure, or exercise of
the imagination, arising from contemplating the productions of an
imitative art, merely as such, will be increased just in proportion
to the facilities afforded of augmenting comparisons between the
prototype and the representation. If this be denied, it follows that
the coarsest scene-painting is equal to the most finished landscape
of Claude; for the general effect must be alike true in each. But
again, since painting has not, like poetry, the advantage of repeated
and progressive impressions; the object which the painter must hold
constantly, and as primary, in view, is to add power to the first burst
of effect which his work is to produce upon the mind. When, therefore,
attention to the individual resemblances has caused to be neglected
or overlooked the grand result or aggregate of resemblance, one of
the greatest possible errors is committed. The performance is justly
condemned to a low grade in art, because the author has both mistaken
the real strength of the instrument which he wields, and has shown
himself defective in the highest quality of genius,--comprehension
and creation of a whole. Thus there are two extremes in art; and even
on the adage of common life, the mean must be preferable. Hence,
then, even thus far Sir Joshua's maxim, and the maxim of too large a
proportion of our native school generally, appears to be erroneous,
'in avoiding details and individual character.' But in each of these
extremes are found its respective, and to excellence, indispensable
advantages. The nearer, therefore, they can be approached and
reconciled, the more perfect will be the style. If this be doubted,
the practice of the best masters will accord with a conclusion derived
from the very nature of an art at once imitative and liberal. If we
examine in this view the remains of classic sculpture, we find, indeed,
the masses and divisions few and simple, in order to preserve the
harmony and force of general effect; but so far from details being
excluded, the Elgin marbles have the very veins of the horses marked,
and are in every respect highly finished; and as we approach the era
of Alexander, though this particular circumstance in certain cases be
laid aside, yet the general divisions become even more numerous, and
the details still more minute. Among the moderns, again, those masters
in the art now considered, who are esteemed the most excellent, are
singularly remarkable for the quantity and variety of detail which
they have harmonized into one grand and perfect whole. For this we
refer to the heads of Raphael, Titian, Coreggio, and Vandyke, which,
though broad and grand in general effect, are so far from being
defective in detail, that each separate part would form a perfect
study. If, again, the history of art be considered, it has been shown,
both in sculpture and in painting, that during the infancy of each
art, details were imitated, while the mind was yet unable to grasp
the entire subject. As improvement advanced, and genius attained
the full mastery of its weapons, truth and number of constituents,
grandeur and unity of design, crowned the whole. Inversely, decline
is perceived to commence in the neglect of those fine and almost
evanescent details, which compose the breathing, the master-touches of
a work of art. Successively the progress of corruption advances, till
little remain save large harsh masses, from which state the downward
path is rapid, to the complete destitution of even _general_ form. How
strongly, for instance, and in how short a space, was this exemplified
in the fortunes of Greek sculpture in Rome! From the finishing of even
Ludovico Caracci, to the sprawlings of Luca Giordano, how brief was
the interval! from the exquisitely pencilled and speaking portraits of
Vandyke to the glaring vacancies, the undetailed middle forms, of Lely
and Kneller!

These reasonings, so varied in their origin, give but one uniform
conclusion, the very reverse of the principle upon which English
portraits have been painted, with few exceptions, from the works of Sir
Joshua Reynolds to those of the present day;--a conclusion, showing
that the excellence of art, and the most perfect imitation of nature,
do not consist in 'the avoiding of details,' but in the happy union
of detail and of individual resemblance with greatness and breadth of
general power. To avoid details is to rest contented with an inferior
aim in art--to avoid, in fact, the chief difficulty and the chief glory
that mark the career of the artist.

This gross style of mechanical practice, which the theory now combated
certainly originated, has spread over the whole of English portraiture
a coarseness of effect and unfinished appearance, destitute of the
agreeable lightness of a sketch, and yet without the clear and
well-defined solidity of a highly-wrought picture. In like manner,
the striving at some delusive, some shadowy excellence of general
expression, instead of representing the air and character exactly
as in the countenance of the sitter, has greatly depreciated the
intellectual qualities of our art. Hence the unmeaning, common-place
look which most of portraits cast at the spectator. Doubtless, in
every countenance there is a general impress of thought or feeling,
which may be said to constitute the habitual mental likeness of the
individual. This it is of the first importance faithfully to transfer
to the canvass. Without this, indeed, the most correct and elaborate
pronouncing of the separate features is of no comparative value. Hence,
however, it by no means follows, that 'individual peculiarities' are
to be resigned. On the contrary, when judiciously introduced, they
will give force by the very addition of individuality to the general
resemblance. It is this which imparts the speaking impress of thought
and mind to the portraits of Raphael and Titian, where 'the rapt soul
sitting in the eye' seems to breathe, in all its historic energies,
from the canvass. It astonishes, indeed, that such precepts should have
been delivered by one who must have been sensible, that the reformation
which he accomplished in contemporary art, was mainly owing to his
having exploded the very same notions of generalizing resemblance,
and of middle forms, held by his predecessors. In fact, Reynolds was
superior to Lely or Kneller, or even Hudson, chiefly as he approached
nearer to nature, by discarding mannered, conventional, and systematic
modifications of her realities. And he is superior to himself exactly
in those works where he has left out his own peculiar 'ways of seeing
nature,' and has given her honestly and faithfully as she actually did
appear. Thus his best portraits are those of his intimate friends;--men
whose habits of thought and action were pressed upon him by constant
observance, and in veneration of whom, and of all that belonged to
them, he forgot his system in the subject before him. Such are the
portraits of Dr Johnson, of Baretti, of Goldsmith, of Burney, and
two of the finest and most powerful likenesses in the world, of John
Hunter and Bishop Newton. As it was with Sir Joshua, so will it be with
every other artist. He must not merely imitate, he must resign himself
to, nature; become as a little child, leaving all artifice and false
knowledge, and receive from her the precepts of truth and soberness.

These remarks, though now illustrated chiefly by reference to its
founder, are applicable more or less to the English school of
portraiture generally. Indeed, down to the masters of the present day,
these precepts operate, and often not less decidedly than in the works
of those who were the contemporaries of Sir Joshua. Of the latter, the
names of a few of the principal may now be enumerated.

Romney, who died in 1802, ten years after the death of Sir Joshua, was
an original, and to a great degree, self-taught artist. His style of
design is simple, his coloring warm and rich, but his affectation of
breadth has frequently induced a neglect of form, with often too vague
a generalization of sentiment. The great failing of Romney--one common,
indeed, to all men, in every profession, who have not been regularly
educated--is something defective in his general management, so that
the whole is rendered imperfect or displeasing from some peculiarity
or immethodical management, which early instruction would easily have
enabled him to avoid.

Opie has carried the principles of Sir Joshua to the very verge of
coarse and indistinct, from which the force of his own genius has
scarcely secured him. His portraits have frequently not more detail
than a sketch, yet are usually heavy and laboured in effect. Though
undoubtedly possessing high talent, Opie's success was owing not less
to the circumstances under which he rose, than to intrinsic merit.
He is, however, a very unequal artist, sometimes attaining great
beauty, at others falling beneath himself, which renders it difficult
to pronounce generally; besides, he has several manners, though in
each, the large and unfinished style predominates. Great allowance
is, however, undoubtedly to be made for him, whose first portrait was
painted by stealth, in moments snatched from the menial occupation of
carrying offals to the house-dog of his first employer. Such was his
employment as house-boy in the family of Walcott, the portrait being
that of the butcher, and which there is reason to believe was painted
in the shambles. No where in the history of mind, do we find such
amazing instances of the power of talent over circumstances as in art.
From painting likenesses at seven and sixpence in Truro, 'the Cornish
boy' came to London with thirty guineas in his pocket, and, with hardly
any instructions, save advice from Sir Joshua, made his way to fame
and fortune. Next to Sir Joshua, of the contemporary painters, Romney
and Opie supported undoubtedly the first rank, though many others, of
considerable merit, would deserve notice in a more extended narrative.
We shall therefore now direct attention to Historical and Landscape

The excellence and amazing number of its portraits, has occasioned
the merits of the English school of history to appear less than they
really are. Indeed, where portraiture is practised on the principles
of grand art, as in this country, there must be excellence in all the
departments of the profession; and the opinion so prevalent, that
portrait is an inferior branch, has seriously prejudiced both divisions
of the art. It has withdrawn the historical painter, as, by way of
exclusive eminence, he was solicitous to be named, from the careful
study of nature in her individual modes and forms--the only true source
of ideal perfection; while it has damped the precious enthusiasm which
arises from the consciousness of dignified pursuit, by placing the
portrait painter in the degraded rank of a secondary artizan.

The more elevated the standard to which, in any study, the mind is
taught to aspire, the nobler will be the fruits of exertion; but where
less is expected, less will be accomplished. The portrait painter,
feeling that he would not receive credit for beauties of which his art
was deemed incapable, has been too ready to take the public at their
own word, and to remain contented with the inferiority they were thus
willing to accept. But the very reverse of all this is the truth.
No essential principle of high art may not be exhibited, and indeed
every one is to be found, in a first-rate portrait. Such works, too,
are equally, perhaps even more rare, and by the same authors, as the
masterpieces of historical composition. Hence we are conducted to
our first premise as a conclusion, that where portraiture has been
successfully practised, history must also flourish. A reference to the
annals of the latter will prove this to be the case among ourselves, at
least to a greater extent than is the general impression.

Even from the time of Henry VIII. we find historical painting in
repute; some of Holbein's works from history remain even more admirable
than his portraits. In the reign of Mary, Antonio More was eminent,
though against his inclination employed chiefly in portraiture.
Elizabeth, in like manner, patronized Zucchero; and the portraits
of Hilliard, one of the first English artists of merit, are in some
instances, though of small size, almost historical, as Donne bears

        ----Or hand or eye
  By Hilliard drawn is worth a history
  By a worse painter made.

The labours of Rubens and Vandyke under Charles, especially the
Banqueting-House at Whitehall by the former, continue to show that
history was not unpatronized. Still no English school can properly
be said to have been formed till the eighteenth century, when Sir
James Thornhill, in the reign of Queen Anne, was appointed historical
painter to the court. The works of this artist are numerous, and we
are disposed to rank them higher than they are commonly appreciated.
Those in St. Paul's and at Greenwich are well known; and though it
be questionable whether they could have been much better executed by
any other artist at that time in Europe, yet so miserable was the
encouragement, that Thornhill is reported to have been paid for some of
these labours by the square yard for two pounds.

Thus the annals of historical painting in England furnish little to
reward research or to interest the reader, previous to the appearance
of Hogarth, born 1698, in the Old Bailey, the son of a schoolmaster,
and died in 1764, being the first native artist who proved that there
existed subject in our manners, and talent in our land, for other
painting than portrait. Hogarth claims the highest praise of genius;
he was an original inventor; nay, more, he both struck out a new path,
and qualified himself to walk therein. From an engraver of armorial
bearings and ornaments on plate, he taught himself to be a painter.
The aim of no artist has been more mistaken, at least estimated on
principles more opposed, than that of Hogarth. Some have ranked him
as a satirical, some as a grotesque painter, while others have not
scrupled to rate him merely as a caricaturist. If, however, historical
painting consist in the delineation of manners, in the expression
of sentiment, and in striking representation of natural character,
few names in art will stand higher than Hogarth; while, beyond most
painters, he has extended the bounds of the art, in the alliance which
he has formed between the imagination and the heart,--between amusing
of the external sense and the profound reflections thus awakened. His
pictures are not merely passing scenes, or momentary actions; they
are profound moral lessons. It is this which raises him far above the
Dutch or Flemish school, with whose general imitation of national
customs, his firm and individual grasp of the morality of common life
has with great injustice been confounded. From the lofty abstractions
of the Italian masters, again, he differs widely, but not, as usually
supposed, because he represents low, but because he paints real life.
In this respect, the observation of Walpole, that, 'Hogarth's place
is between the Italians, whom we may consider as epic poets and
tragedians; and the Flemish painters, who are as writers of farce,
and editors of burlesque nature,' is founded in utter mistake, or
misrepresentation; he never forgave the artist's independence of his
_connoisseurship_. Hogarth's place is not between, but above and apart.
He 'holds the mirror up to nature,' not to exhibit graphic powers of
mimicry, not to depict the sublimity of mind, or the idealities of
form, but 'to show Vice her own features,' man 'his own image.'

His predecessor thus standing alone, Sir Joshua Reynolds claims to
be the founder of English historical painting in its recognised
acceptation. Indeed, his principles already, or hereafter to be
explained, have been followed by all succeeding artists, or have
influenced practice in history no less than in portraiture. And what
this influence accomplished in the latter, it certainly has also
effected in the former department, with this difference indeed, that in
the first it created, in the second improved, giving to each a large,
bold, and energetic manner, which was at least a step greatly in
advance, a most respectable approximation, in the path of excellence.
But this, as a resting-place, was far less perfect in history than in
any other branch of the art, since the style was adverse to attainment
in many of those qualities justly deemed essential. Hence is Sir Joshua
not only inferior to himself in history, but his example has, on the
whole, retarded the advancement of the study amongst us. Successors
have either too often rested in imitation of his manner, or they have
carried his principles forward, in which case they are unfortunately
calculated to lead farther from the genuine sources of pure taste and
substantial composition.

The masterpieces of Sir Joshua are his representations of children;
and in many historical, or rather fancy pieces of this character, as
the Infant Hercules, the Strawberry Girl, Puck, Cupid and Psyche,
Hope nursing Love, his labours are truly admirable. Such subjects
were just fitted to his bland and flowing pencil, while they suffered
nothing from undecided form and contours feebly expressed. The arch,
yet simple expression, the lovely, yet almost grotesque individuality
of character, in the heads of his children, the execution, and even
coloring--all is equally natural and exquisite. They are among the
most perfect gems of art. Only second to the similar productions of
Coreggio, they are superior to everything done on the Continent since
the days of Rubens and Fiammingo. It appears singular, then, on the
first view of the matter, that Sir Joshua should have so frequently
failed, and on the whole left so few good female portraits, while so
nearly attaining perfection in subjects of allied grace and loveliness.
But it is to be remarked, a style of handling broad and facile, yet
peculiarly soft and fleshy, which in these instances produces effects
so beautiful without much finish, is not equally adapted to express the
equally soft, yet decided forms and delicate movements of the female
countenance. Besides, Sir Joshua had peculiar notions of grace, which
affected ease and nature, rather than actually represented the easy
and the natural. He wished to avoid stiffness, and has often lapsed
into the contrasted and theatrical. His picture of Mrs Siddons, as the
Tragic Muse, however, is pronounced by Sir Thomas Lawrence to be 'a
work of the highest epic character, and indisputably the finest female
portrait in the world.' How far, however, either that, or the no less
celebrated picture of Garrick, can rank with historical portraitures,
at least considered with those of Raphael and Titian, may justly be
questioned. Of the more elevated and serious historical compositions
of Sir Joshua, the Death of Cardinal Beaufort is the grandest, the
best drawn, and the most powerfully colored; the only defect is the
expression, which is too material; Ugolino is a failure, if intended
for the fierce inmate of Dante's 'tower of famine:' these want dignity
and truth of character. The designs at Oxford are fine; the Nativity,
in imitation of the famous Notte of Coreggio, is a splendid performance.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, then, owed more to taste and application than to
genius; more to incessant practice than to science; he derived all
from his predecessors which he has bequeathed to posterity; but if, in
making the transmission, he added no new nor essential principle of
imitation or invention, he established in high practical excellence the
arts of his country.

Among those whose labours in historical painting connect the former
with the present school, Barry stands foremost in time as in merit. The
performances of this artist exhibit, in a very striking manner, the
justice of some of the preceding remarks. They are destitute of the
most essential and touching graces of imitative representation; they
want, in short, all that portraiture, which their author affected to
despise, could have given--life, nature, truth, and sweetness, without
this absence being compensated by any extraordinary beauties of what is
termed higher art. The drawing, though often good, is also not seldom
defective; while the coloring is uniformly harsh, and the management
without force. Imagination and invention run riot without due control
of the judgment; not that the fervor of poetic enthusiasm snatches
a too daring grace, but rather the unpruned fertility of conception
frequently unites the most glaring incongruities. Yet Barry is far from
being without power or science; his great deficiences were a chaste
taste and mellowed practice. No man better understood, or has written
more learnedly, on the abstract principles of composition; indeed, he
has been accused of devoting too much attention to the mere theory and
literature of his art, while he neglected Raphael's golden application
of Cicero's maxim--'Nulla dies sine linea.' There existed, however, in
the character of Barry, notwithstanding a rudeness of exterior, and
ignorance or disregard of the proprieties of polished life, a moral
grandeur of unshaken resolve, of enduring enthusiasm, of stern and
uncompromising self-denial, in his professional career, which invest
his memory with no common interest. The man who could undertake, alone,
and with no certain prospect of remuneration, one of the greatest
works which has been attempted within two centuries--and that, too,
with only sixteen shillings in his pocket; who, during seven years of
struggle, prosecuted that work to a completion, often thus labouring
all day, while he sat up the greater part of the night finishing some
sketch for the publishers, in order to make provision for the passing
hour;--such a man presents claims to admiration of higher dignity than
even those of genius. The great work undertaken and finished amid
these difficulties, is the series of six pictures, of the size of life,
representing the progress of civilization, in the Hall of the Society
of Arts; and it reflects the highest honor on that useful institution,
that its gratuitous reward enabled the artist to enjoy his only
permanent, though small income, of about £60 yearly. That such a member
should have been ejected from the Royal Academy of Great Britain, in
which also he held the Chair of Painting, must be considered as a
common calamity both to that body and to himself: to him it certainly
was, for the degradation embittered the enjoyment, and very seriously
impaired the means, of existence. Barry died in 1806, having been born
at Cork in 1741; rising from a sailor boy, chalking his rude fancies on
the deck of his father's coaster, self-taught, to be the painter now
described--the learned writer on his art--the friend of Samuel Johnson
and of Edmund Burke.

Many other names of minor reputation might be mentioned,--as Hayman,
Mortimer, &c.,--who occasionally with portrait, painted history, but
to no extent. This branch of the art, except for the labours of the
late Sir Benjamin West, at the close of the last century, would almost
have been without a representative amongst us. From that period, very
great progress in all the departments has been realized. Still, to
the ancient grandeur of the historic style this venerable artist has
continued to make the nearest approaches. To the New World, succeeding
ages will stand indebted for West; but for the painter, the arts are
under obligation to England. It is singular, too, that the advice and
services of a Scotsman were the immediate inducements which prevented
this ornament of two worlds from returning to his native country, in
which case his talents would most probably have been lost to both.
The state of patronage and of taste could not have afforded to him
the means nor the incitement of rising beyond portrait, in which we
do not think West would ever have excelled. Two incidents in his lot
reflect equal honor on his native and his adopted country,--like many
other moral analogies, evincing the common possession of a congenial
liberality and kindliness of spirit, which ought, and will, we trust,
ever mingle its best affections in reciprocally advantageous and
amicable intercourse. In the land of his birth, the opening genius of
West was cheered with a truly tender solicitude; his future advance and
his future fame seemed less the care of individual friends than of his
countrymen. And, from 1763, on first setting foot in Britain, during
the long course of his life, he received more encouragement from her
sovereign and her people than has ever been accorded to any historical
painter, native or foreign; this, too, in the midst of an unhappy, and,
as then considered, rebellious contest.

When we consider the labours of Sir Benjamin, in reference either to
English or Continental art, they have, in both points of view, a high,
but not an equal rank. In the former, they are unrivalled in magnitude,
in progressive improvement, and in the excellence of the principles
upon which they are composed. In comparing them with foreign art, their
merits are not so absolute; but here we shall use the words of the
present accomplished president. 'At an era,' says Sir Thomas Lawrence,
'when historical painting was at the lowest ebb, (with the few
exceptions which the claims of the beautiful and the eminent permitted
to the pencil of Sir Joshua), Mr West, sustained by the munificent
patronage of his late Majesty, produced a series of compositions, from
sacred and profane history, profoundly studied, and executed with
the most facile power, which not only were superior to any former
productions of English art, but, far surpassing contemporary merit on
the Continent, were unequalled at any period below the schools of the

In support of this high encomium, Sir Thomas instances 'the Return of
Regulus to Carthage,' and 'the Shipwreck of St Paul,'--pictures which
amply testify the superiority we have assumed to exist in the living
arts of Britain. These, however, are by no means the only master-pieces
of West, whose great glory it is to have proceeded on a system which
admits of indefinite, and which tends to certain improvement. Even
to his eightieth year he was employed in new exercises, not inferior
to, or in some respects excelling, the enterprises of his vigorous
strength. The cause of his late eminence bears strongly upon the
whole tenor of our remarks in treating of Sculpture, and will best be
explained in his own words. In 1811, writing to Lord Elgin, the artist
thus expresses himself: 'in the last production of my pencil, which I
now invite your lordship to see, it has been my ambition, though at a
very advanced period of life, to introduce those refinements in art,
which are so distinguished in your collection,'--(the Phidian Marbles
of the Parthenon.) 'Had I been blest with seeing and studying these
emanations of genius at an earlier period of life, the sentiment of
their pre-eminence would have animated all my exertions; and more
character, and expression, and life, would have pervaded my humble
attempts at historical painting.'

It is the soundness and regularity of principle expressed in, or whose
existence is clearly deducible from, the entertaining of such views,
that constitutes the great merit of the pictures of West. It is these
qualities, too, which impart to them their utility and high value
as a school of art. As far as they go, they may safely and without
reserve be recommended to the student. Here he will not be led
astray by brilliant though false theory, nor degraded into mannerism
by peculiar though striking modes, which can please only from their
peculiarity, and when they exhibit the result of native invention.
All here is placed upon the broad highway of universal art; all is
equable, uniformly correct, firm, and respectable; no compensation of
error by an occasional loftiness of flight: the stream of invention
sweeps onward calmly and majestically; if not conducting to scenes
of the most stupendous sublimity, flowing at least without cataract
or whirlpool, through a magnificence which is grand from its very
regularity and usefulness. In these works we discover this, perhaps
singular character, that in them we detect many wants, but no defects.
The composition, grouping and symmetry, are unexceptionable; the
drawing is particularly fine, yet without the statue-like design of
the French school. But to animate this beautiful framework of art--to
inspire these moulds of form and emblems of intelligence with action
and sentiment--the touch of that genius, to whose final aims external
science furnishes the bare instrument, is wanting. The representation
is chaste and beautiful, but it is too clearly a representation; there
wants the almost o'er-informing mind, the freshness of natural feeling,
which give to art its truest, only mastery over the human spirit.

The surpassing softness and variety of our island scenery seems to have
inspired a corresponding beauty and vigorous diversity into our school
of Landscape. Rural imagery may almost be said to mingle in every dream
of English enjoyment. Hence this department of our arts has always been
popular, and, as a necessary consequence of encouragement, has been
cultivated with ardor and success. Only, indeed, when English artists
have forsaken English nature, or have attempted to unite classical
allegory with heroic landscape, as it is called, have they failed
in this delightful branch. From an early period in the eighteenth
century, the school may be said to commence, and thenceforward may
justly be said to have remained unrivalled by contemporary merit in
any other country. One department indeed of landscape, and that too a
very charming one, namely water-color, has been, by British artists,
not only invented, it may be said, but raised into a most beautiful
and useful branch of dignified art. Nor let landscape be deemed, as
too frequently, an inferior department: it certainly requires not the
highest genius, yet so many qualities must unite in the same individual
before he can attain excellence here, that Sir Joshua Reynolds used to
say, 'there is more likely to be another Raphael than a second Claude.'
Yet more than one native has approached the eminence of the latter.

Commencing with the last century, the following arrangement will
include the most esteemed landscape painters of this country.

_First Class._ Wilson, born 1714, died 1782, the first of English
landscape painters; aerial perspective very fine, not surpassed by
Claude; great fidelity in representing natural effects; coloring,
especially in his later pictures, somewhat dry; objects rather
indeterminate. Gainsborough, 1727-88; a painter of universal but
irregular genius; in his landscapes the most decidedly English of all
our great masters. Wright, 1734-97; exquisite finishing and wonderful
effects of light, especially in his Eruption of Vesuvius, rising and
setting sun; touch delicate; coloring fresh and transparent. Morland,
1764-1806; it is not easy exactly to class this artist, as his
landscapes are generally accessory only to his figures, while these
latter are hardly of sufficient interest without such accessories.
Whatever Morland accomplished was rather by the force of genius, than
through study or knowledge, with the exception of some of his pictures
painted about 1789-95. His great excellences lie in the unaffected
exhibition of broad and vulgar character, and in the representation of
domestic animals, pigs, sheep, donkeys, and worn-out horses; for as he
drew merely by force of eye, his ignorance of anatomy prevented him
from attempting that 'noble creature' in perfect condition. Moreland's
back-grounds and distances are often truly admirable.

_Second Class._ Wooton, died 1765, excellent in field-sports, horses,
dogs, and landscape; but his touch and coloring are indistinct.
Lambert, 1710-1765, chaste and harmonious coloring, with a slight
degree of monotony; distances sweet; followed G. Poussin, whose
occasional faults in harshness and black shadow he has avoided, though
left far behind in sublimity and variety of composition. Barrett, from
the sister isle, self-instructed, yet none of our native school has
more happily caught the characteristic features of English landscape:
his touch, though defective in detail, is rapid, and forcibly
distinguishes, at least by their general forms, the different elements
of natural composition. Marlow, concerning whom there are no exact
dates, and Scott, born in 1710, died in 1772,--both excel in marine
views; the latter is scarcely surpassed by the best masters of the
Flemish school, and the finishing of the former is particularly happy,
though he fails in trees, when attempting inland scenery.

_Third Class._ This division includes many landscape painters of
various, some, indeed, of very high merit, whose labours extend from
the commencement of the eighteenth to an early part of the present
century. Of this class the principal names are the following: Smiths
of Chichester, especially John and George, and Smith of Derby;--it
is singular that all three were self-taught. The two Gilpins of
Carlisle; the elder by pictures of horses and wild animals, and the
Rev. William Gilpin, by his writings and landscapes, have added much
to this department. Sandby of Nottingham, a most exquisite landscape
draughtsman, as also were Cozens and Hearne, whose paintings have great
value in fidelity, and whose drawings contributed not a little towards
forming the present school of water-color painting. Tull imitated too
closely the Dutch masters. Wheately excelled both in minor history and
landscape, especially in rural subjects. Dean, a native of Ireland,
some good Italian landscapes. Dayes, Devis, of which names there were
three artists more or less connected with landscape. Two Pethers of
Chichester; William, both a painter and engraver of landscapes; Abraham
excelled in moonlight scenes, exercising the pencil with remarkable
sweetness, luxuriance, and transparency of coloring; he died in 1812.

Of all the landscape painters of the British school, Wilson and
Gainsborough are undoubtedly the first; nor is it easy to discriminate
between them. Wilson excels in splendour of effect and magnificence
of composition; but Gainsborough is more natural and pleasing, at
least in his early pictures. Latterly he introduced the notion of
an ideal beauty in rural nature, which has too frequently been
imitated. Both possessed genius in no ordinary degree; but though to
the first has been conceded the higher walk as it has been called,
because imaginative, to the latter belongs that temperament of mind
more essential, we think, to the landscape painter, which powerfully
conceives the objects of contemplation, and places them in vivid
reality before the eye and the fancy. Each has failed in the grand
difficulty of landscape--the proper introduction of figures; and in
the besetting defect of the English school--slovenly execution, and
want of detail. Here the remarks are not confined to these artists
alone, but express rather the general character. Among the masters
of historical painting, as Titian, Caracci, N. Poussin, Rubens, who
excelled in landscape incidentally, as it were, the scene is always
subordinate to the figures. This is generally the case, too, with those
who more directly professed historical or heroic landscape, as Salvator
Rosa, Albano, Franceso Bolonese, with many of the most celebrated
Flemish and Dutch artists. In this case the landscape is introduced
either to exhibit some scenic propriety, or as a mere embellishment of
the historical design. The great difficulty here lies in maintaining
subordination and unity, yet preserving the interest, of the respective
parts of the composition. In these beauties Claude completely fails,
as do also Wilson, and most English artists who have made the attempt.
The landscape overwhelms the story, while the story generally
discredits the landscape; or, the attention being equally divided
between both, the interest of each is weakened. This is sometimes the
case with Gainsborough, often with Morland, and still more frequently
in the Dutch school. In landscape painting, properly considered, the
figures should always be subordinate, forming merely a part of, and
corresponding with, the scene; most especially when that scene is from
nature, and with her beauties ever fresh renewed, inexhaustible--there
is something almost unhallowed in thrusting upon us the inferior, and
mannered and crowded compositions of mere imagination. Nor is it a
matter merely of taste; everything which has a tendency to lead the
mind and the imagination of the artist away from nature, tends also
to the deterioration of art. Hence the absurdities so visible in the
history of this particular branch--Nature represented as if seen
through a Claude-Lorraine-glass--skies gleaming and glaring under the
appellations of sunrises and sunsets,--buildings of fantastic form and
uninhabitable dimensions, under the name of Italian ruins--foliage and
fields in every variety of tint, save the soft, quiet, unobtrusive hues
of leaves and herbage. Surely of all painters, the British landscape
painter is least excusable in deviating from the reality around him,
which presents every element of his art in its best perfection, from
the softest beauty in a freshness of dewy verdure elsewhere unknown,
to the wildest sublimity of lake, mountain, wood, and torrent!
Even in the gorgeous magnificence of our changing sky, there is a
gloriousness, and grandeur of effect, which we have never seen even
in Italy. If, again, he seek for objects of moral interest, there is
the feudal fortalice--the cloistered abbey--the storied minster--the
gothic castle, with all their rich associations;--there the mouldering
monument--the fields of conflict, the scenes of tradition, of poetry,
and of love--and, far amid the wild upland, gleams the mossy stone, and
bends the solitary ash, over the martyr of his faith. For such as these
the imagination can give us no equivalents.

Coarse and undetailed, though talented, execution, has overspread every
department of the British school. In the present branch, however,
this manner seems especially misplaced. A landscape painting, more
than any other, is viewed merely as a work of art. Consequently, the
mind feels dissatisfied in the absence of those qualities of finished
execution and delicate management, which constitute the essential value
and character of art as such. The imitation requires not only to be
general; but, to give entire pleasure, we must be enabled also to trace
with ease minute and varied resemblances. The work thus affords almost
the endless gratification of nature's own productions. But we shall not
rest the objections to loose practice on grounds that might be disputed
as a matter of dubious taste. The evil is not stayed in the effect,
but endangers the very existence of its own rapid creations. Where the
study is general effect only, the next object must necessarily be to
produce that effect speedily: indeed, such a style completely excludes
the care requisite to proper elaboration and transparent coloring.
Hence tints are used, which soonest attain to the general end in view;
but such tints are exactly those which fade the soonest. Hence the
blackness, rawness, and want of harmony, in so many English landscapes.
Hence, also, the clear and silvery tones which seem indestructible in
the exquisitely finished landscapes of Claude, and the most eminent
foreign artists. Generally, indeed, the best masters in this branch
are decidedly those who have finished with due care. Of the works of
our own school, those are also the most excellent as essays of genius,
which are the most judiciously laboured as performances of art.

We may now turn our attention for a little to the past state of
painting in Scotland. During the eighteenth century, though there can
hardly be said to have existed any separate style, so as to merit the
distinction of a school apart from that of the empire generally, yet
several very respectable Scottish artists are found to have practised
both in London and Edinburgh. In the latter capital, towards the close
of that period, a school gradually arose, which, considering the
resources of the country, the opportunities of improvement, the means
of patronage, and latterly, the merits of its individual masters,
especially of its head, the late Sir Henry Raeburn, displays an
inferiority certainly not greater than might reasonably be expected.
Or we will go farther; when the invigorating influence of royal
countenance and protection upon the fine arts, the superior wealth and
intelligence congregated in the seat of legislature, are viewed--all
concurring to foster and advance art in the capital; and when, on the
other hand, we reflect, not merely on the absence of these advantages,
but on the positive detriment of a non-resident nobility, whose
presence might in some measure supply other deficiencies, it must
be matter of astonishment, not that Scottish painting is inferior,
but that it is so nearly equal, to that of London. But there needs
not an appeal merely to relative excellence; the absolute merits of
some of the masters now in Edinburgh, or belonging to Scotland, are
not surpassed in their respective departments. It is far from the
intention, in these remarks, to institute any invidious distinctions,
but to state fairly the claims of Edinburgh, and that the talents of
her artists, and the zeal of her people, place her, not among the
secondary cities, but among the capitals of Europe. It ought also
to be remembered, that in no instance are the arts of any kingdom
more indebted, than those of the British Empire to Scotsmen. Not to
mention the exertions of Gavin Hamilton, himself an artist, whose
discoveries and knowledge of antique art materially assisted the
general restoration of taste--and we do know that, in this light,
Canova both regarded and ever spoke of him with gratitude--there are
two cases more immediate to the present purpose. Sir William Hamilton,
at his own risk and expense, though afterwards, as was only proper, in
part repaid, made the most splendid collection of ancient vases now in
the world, excepting that of Naples. These are in the British Museum,
and have not merely refined taste, but have most materially improved
the useful arts of the country. The Earl of Elgin's inestimable
treasures of ancient sculpture have enriched Britain with examples of
unrivalled excellence, and which have already mainly contributed to
the present superiority of her genius in art. These precious remains,
with indefatigable assiduity, at a ruinous and hopeless expenditure,
collected--an enterprise in which kings had formerly failed--he gave
to his country on repayment of not nearly his own outlay, though we
have reason to know, through the late venerable Denon, that the former
government of France offered to the possessor his own terms. The
meritorious act of removal indeed has, with schoolboy enthusiasm, and
maudlin sentimentality, been deplored as a despoiling of a classic
monument. How utterly absurd is this, to lament that the time-honored
labours of ancient Greece did not sink for ever beneath the violence of
the despot and the ignorance of the slave, instead of being, as now, in
the midst of an admiring and enlightened people, shedding abroad their
beauty and their intelligence, again to revive in our living arts!

Jamieson, the first of whom there is interesting notice, and one of
the most accomplished of the Scottish artists, died in Edinburgh 1644.
His labours, with those of the succeeding century, are connected by
works and names, as Norrie, elder and younger, now fast hastening, or
already, with no injustice, consigned, to oblivion. The times, agitated
as they were by political and religious dissensions, offered little
encouragement to the arts of elegance and peace. Throughout the early
part of the eighteenth century, however, to the era even of Sir Joshua
Reynolds, individual artists, natives of Scotland, may be mentioned,
of attainments and practice superior to any in the history of painting
during the same period in England. The cause of this is evident in the
more accomplished professional education which the former received.
The intercourse between Scotland and Italy, owing to various political
causes, and to the great number of Scotch residents in the latter
country, was then very close; hence, after attaining all that home
instruction could give, hardly a single Scottish artist of eminence can
be mentioned, who had not, by an abode in Italy, finished his studies
where alone the highest and truest knowledge can be obtained. It would
be needless to combat the opinion, that such a process is unnecessary.
No artist, with a mind open to the real beauties of his profession,
can visit Italy without reaping the most solid advantages, otherwise
unattainable. In this respect, too, the Scottish artist seemed to enjoy
a security in the very poverty of native art; for if he saw little to
excite ambition, enough remained to direct study, without taste being
influenced by the popularity of false modes. Hence it is not more than
justice to state, that in the works of the following names, there is to
be found a more uniformly pure and dignified style, if not of higher
excellence, than generally distinguishes contemporary art.

Ramsay, son of the poet, inherited no small portion of his father's
love of nature, and power of unaffected delineation of her simplicity.
His portraits present, in these respects, a charm quite refreshing,
when compared with the staring mannerism of the Anglo-German school,
founded by Lely and Kneller. Ramsay remained three years in Italy, from
1736. Of his accomplishments, Dr Johnson has left this testimony: 'you
will not find a man in whose conversation there is more instruction,
more information, and more elegance, than in Ramsay's.' Runciman, an
excellent draughtsman and pleasing colorist, born in 1736. Several
historical paintings, executed at Rome and in Edinburgh, evince very
considerable powers both of composition and practice. He was for a
length of time a very efficient teacher in the Scottish Academy of
design. More, the Scottish Claude, as he is sometimes termed, whom
also he selected as his model. Without, however, reaching the depth
of coloring and beautiful nature which are found in that admirable
painter, there are many stations which may be filled with honor. In
one of these More is to be placed, while his figures have very great
propriety both of selection and in the manner of introducing them.
His subjects are usually Italian scenes, in the neighborhood of Rome,
where he chiefly resided, and died in 1795. To these, other names of
considerable merit might be added, as Cochrane, Sir George Chalmers;
Barker, too, the inventor of panoramic painting, was, we believe, a
native of Scotland, at least, the first work of the kind ever exhibited
was in Edinburgh. Martin, who visited Italy in company with Ramsay,
practised portrait painting with considerable reputation, till he
retired from his professional labours on the increasing and merited
popularity of his distinguished contemporary, under whom the Scottish
school assumes a dignified importance, heretofore denied to its
comparatively isolated endeavors.

Sir Henry Raeburn, the representative of painting in Scotland from
1787 to his death 1823, was born in a suburb of the capital, 1756. Of
all the distinguished artists who have attained excellence, without
any peculiarity of manner, perhaps Raeburn owes least to others and
most to himself in the acquisition of his art. Originally apprenticed
to a goldsmith, it does not appear that he ever received a single
lesson from a master even in the ordinary accomplishments of drawing.
From painting miniatures with success during his apprenticeship,
he turned his attention to large portraiture in oil, with no other
assistance than merely copying a few portraits could give. Even these
early productions must have possessed merit, since they obtained the
approbation of Sir Joshua, by whose advice he visited Italy, remaining
abroad two years, thus completing the round of his professional studies.

The character of Sir Henry's art participates strongly in that which
has prevailed in British portraiture during the last fifty years. It
in fact presents the very ideal of that style whose aim is to speak
most powerfully to the imagination, through the slenderest means
addressed to the eye. His pictures afford the finest, we might say the
most wonderful examples, how far detail may be sacrificed, and yet
general effect and striking resemblance be retained. In this respect
he has carried the principles of Sir Joshua to the very verge of
indistinctness; but what is given has such vigorous meaning, that in
the power of the leading forms, the fancy discovers an intelligence,
which, overspreading the whole composition, and bursting from each
master line, guides the mind triumphantly over the blank masses
often composing the interior. If, then, to produce strong effect, by
whatsoever means, be the object of art, Raeburn has succeeded beyond
most painters; but if true excellence consist in blending into one
harmonious whole the delicate markings and grand contours of nature,
he has failed; if pictures are to be viewed only on the walls of a
gallery, at a distance from the spectator, his portraits correspond
with this arrangement; but if the eye loves to rest upon features
dear to the affections, or prized by the understanding--if delight to
trace the shades of feeling and the lines of thought--if these wishes
can be gratified, and are indulged in the masterpieces of art, then
does Raeburn, and not only he, but the great majority of the English
school, rest far behind. The error, in his individual instance, as
in most others, lies in the system. To this, also, which recognizes
mere effect and general resemblance as all, is to be ascribed his
frequent disregard of correct outline, his black and square shadows,
and coarseness of coloring. Yet Raeburn saw nature with the eye of true
genius, for he caught her essential forms, and often her most effective
graces; but either his industry disdained, or his art was unable, to
add the rest.

The leading events and principal masters in the past history of British
art have now been rapidly surveyed. Upon the living ornaments of the
school, individually, it scarcely falls under the province of the
annalist, nor is it his intention, to dwell. It is not, that matter of
still farther congratulation would not thus be afforded in the evidence
of national progress; for at no time has the English school occupied a
more elevated position, whether compared with others, or with itself.
But, estimated thus highly and thus truly, the general eminence has
still gradations, which, in entering upon detail, it would be incumbent
to point out. The responsibility of this duty it is the wish to
avoid. An opinion ventured upon works left by their authors to the
guardianship of posterity, may be canvassed in its truth or falsehood
as an abstract criticism, without either wounding the feelings of the
living, or, it may be, injuring the value of professional labour.
From judicious observations when called for, an artist has to fear
nothing, and may profit much; but it should ever be remembered, that
the professional merit must be humble indeed, which does not render
the possessor superior to his self-constituted judge, who is himself
not an artist. A sound judgment in literature, or an acquaintance with
the general principles upon which all works of taste must necessarily
be conducted, are not sufficient, without practical skill, truly to
estimate a production of art. The poet employs vehicles of thought and
signs of expression familiar to all as the use of reason; the means and
instruments of the painter constitute in their management a peculiar
science, in which excellence or defect is less appreciable by natural
or untrained observation. Neglect of these principles of criticism has
exposed to groundless censure, and to as injurious praise, both arts
and artists.

When it is stated, that the modern English school surpasses every other
in Europe, the inference is not to be assumed, that painting elsewhere
has retrograded, but that, with us, art has advanced beyond the general
improvement. During the present century, painting in France has been
superior to any thing produced in that country since the age of Louis
XIV., or, perhaps, it has in this space attained a greater glory. Italy
has more than one master, who, in purity of style at least, excels any
predecessor within the last fifty years. Now, if the representatives
of these respective schools be compared, or if the universal works of
each be taken as the criterion of merit, in either case it would not
be difficult to show, that separately, or as a school, the British
artists of the present age have made the greatest attainments towards

But compared with ourselves, has our course also been progressive? The
affirmative here it is more difficult to prove. Reynolds, Hogarth,
Wilson, Gainsborough, all contemporaries, certainly present a rare
combination of genius and art. But besides these stars of the first
magnitude, every other 'lesser light' twinkles with diminished ray.
Now, as respects the general diffusion of most respectable eminence,
this is far from being the case at present. In every branch, more than
one master of high talent might be mentioned. Again, considering the
representatives of each department in the present and in the former
age, there can be no hesitation, everything considered, in giving the
preference to our contemporaries. A remark of the late learned Fuseli
is here quite to the purpose, while in itself perfectly correct: 'The
works of Sir Joshua Reynolds are unequal, many of them are indifferent,
though some cannot be surpassed; but, on the other hand, even the most
inferior picture from the pencil of Sir Thomas Lawrence is excellent.'
It is this extended and uniform excellence, as has appeared throughout
the whole course of these investigations, which constitutes not only
individual superiority, but which tends, most directly and most surely,
to the exaltation of art.

Hogarth, again, stands alone rather in the peculiar dramatic character
of his performances, than in their beauty or science, as bearing upon
the promotion of universal improvement, or even as individual pieces
of painting. His pictures, also, with few exceptions, are rather
isolated representations than general exhibitions of manners; they are
scenes displaying the singularities, more than the leading actions
and feelings of life. Their effect is broad and true, and the moral
powerful; but both are circumscribed by times, and by partial divisions
among mankind. Wilkie, whose style of composition most nearly resembles
Hogarth's, and with whom, therefore, he is to be compared, while he
preserves all the force of individual character and delineation of
living nature, has extended a far more comprehensive grasp of mind
over the moralities of his subject. He has brought within the pencil's
magic sway, and fixed there in permanent reality, the sorrows and the
joys, the hopes, fears, and attachments, the occupations, customs,
habits, and even amusements, of a whole unchanging class of mankind.
This may appear to have been before accomplished, both in the English
and Flemish schools. But here lies the distinction: Hogarth represents
general ideas by particular signs. His forms and his expressions
are individual modifications of the limited society to which they
belong. The conceptions of Wilkie are the idealisms of his models.
Each figure is not only pregnant with individuality of character and
life, but is the true representative of the class whose constituent
it is. Each expression, though generally but the index of humble
feeling, sends abroad into the heart of every spectator its artless
appeal. He has thus, in fact, applied the generalizations of higher
art to the interests of common life, yet preserving its simplicity,
its humbleness, and reality. The Dutch painters, again, have painted
vulgar instead of common nature; nor, in the complete range of their
school, is there once an example of that delightful sentiment, which
our countryman has so successfully cast over his most lowly scenes,
and by which he has redeemed them from every approach to vulgarity,
without falling, as Gainsborough has sometimes done, into insipidity or

In landscape, Turner has extended the boundaries of his art by the
invention of prismatic colors, and by his novel applications of them.
He is therefore decidedly a more original artist than Wilson, whose
best works are those composed in imitation of Claude. But Turner by no
means stands so much alone as did the masters of the former age; names
in both divisions of Britain might be mentioned his equals in more than
one respect. In the historical department, again, if we admit the late
President's works, there can be no comparison between these and any
former labours of the English school. But in all the possible varieties
of historical composition, there are artists of great excellence either
now living, or who have been taken from us within these few years; as
Haydn, Martin, Allan of Edinburgh, Heapy, Collings, Fuseli, Harlow,
Stothard, Cooper, Landseer, with others. In portraiture, Jackson,
Phillips, and others, show, that even high excellence is not so
confined as in the time of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Lawrence is indeed the
first artist in Europe, but he is ably supported. A little anecdote
may here give some idea of the powers of Sir Thomas's pencil. On
visiting, one evening, the apartment in the Vatican where his splendid
portrait of George IV., in coronation robes, was then exhibited, we
were much struck with the fixed attention immediately directed to it by
an individual who had just entered. A deeper interest was excited on
perceiving the stranger to be a celebrated native artist. Continuing
for some time in total abstraction, during which the workings of his
countenance clearly indicated admiration or astonishment, and, we
thought, disappointment, with a sudden unconscious gesticulation, he
exclaimed aloud, 'Dio--il tramontane!' as if saying 'Heavens! can that
have been painted beyond the Alps!' and abruptly hurried away.

From the preceding remarks, and the names now enumerated, who are
mentioned without any reference to comparative rank or merit as to
each other, two inferences are deducible: first, That the masters
more immediately in the public eye, as now at the head of the various
departments of art, are on the whole superior to those of the last
age; and, secondly, That between the former and their present
contemporaries, the interval is small in comparison with the position
occupied by Reynolds, Hogarth, Wilson, or Gainsborough, in relation
to the school over which they presided. Hence the general conclusion
seems evident, that in Britain, the art, as compared with itself, has
continued to improve.

Compared with foreign art, the distinctive character of the English
school is strongly marked. Painting on the Continent exhibits a
striking uniformity of style, with such peculiarities as, on a general
view, will not lessen the truth of a common classification. The
Continental artist, then, studies to detail, but fails in power of
general effect; his performances are more valuable as works of art and
of imitation, than of imagination or abstract resemblance. The parts
are beautifully made out, finely drawn; but the whole is too seldom
connected by any animating principle of general similitude, uniting the
separate elaborations into one broad and forcible harmony. Hence the
dry, the meagre, and the disjointed particulars, the usual components
of their labours, though in themselves truer than the constituents of
British art--better drawn, it may be, and more carefully finished,
as they almost always are, yet contrast disadvantageously with the
bold and powerful, though large generalizations of our pencil. Nor
can there be impartial question, though each be separately defective,
that more genius is displayed in the latter than in the former. The
English artist paints more to the mind; the French and the Italian
to the eye. The first looks abroad upon the universal harmonies and
oppositions of nature; the second scrutinizes and carefully renders
the filling up of her aggregated forms, and the lesser concurrences
of her general effects. Art, with us, represents objects as they
seem in their relations, rather than as they actually exist; among
our rivals, it delineates things as they are in themselves, to the
neglect of those modifications by which reality is diversified through
pleasing falsehood, especially as viewed in reference to a medium of
expression, founded itself in delusion. In the one case, nature is
seen and imitated as a picture; in the other, her operations and forms
are contemplated as materials out of which pictures are to be wrought.
Hence English art satisfies, but deceives; the foreign style does not
deceive, but fails to satisfy.

Compared with itself, and with the real objects and essence of art, we
have already pointed out the great defect in the practice of English
art to be, imperfection in the details. In portraiture, this has
spread to a ruinous extent; and with the most beautiful models in the
world, British female portraits, speaking in general, are most decided
failures. On this subject, nothing more remains to be said--we refer
to the exquisite works of Lawrence, whose female heads are at once
most striking, most lovely, and very highly finished;--we recommend a
study of Vandyke's likenesses of the ladies of the Court of Charles,
now in the Louvre. Let the natural grace and modesty, the delicacy of
feature and transparency of tint, in these, be compared with similar
works of the present day and practice--when it must at once appear
how much is lost to art, and how great injustice is done to nature.
In male portraits our practice is better, but only from the bolder
lineaments of the subject. The inherent errors are the same--modelling
with the pencil, rather than drawing--immense masses of dark shade to
conceal the absence of all that should be present--and forcible rather
than natural effect. There certainly now appears, however, in the
productions of the most esteemed living masters, the progress of a more
scientific and more perfect style.

In the walk of history, expression--that expression which comes from
the natural outpourings of feeling--which animates the canvass of
the early masters--and which seems to find its proper, spontaneous,
accordant instrument in their pencil,--has yet been wanting. Next,
our historical paintings are sadly defective in composition--not in
the symmetrical arrangement and grouping of figures, but in the real
poetry of the art, in the facile, the creative power over the means
and materials of the science--in the skill of causing them to fall as
if by chance, and without effort or visible design, into the most
harmonious, most striking, and most effective combinations.

Another and a principal source of inferiority--of absolute, yet
laborious error, has been the most mistaken perceptions of ideal beauty
in art. This subject it was our intention to have treated here at some
length. Our limits, however, forbid, while it is of less consequence,
since the volume contains within itself the leading precepts on this
topic. The sum of these separate remarks is, that the ideal is not
beauty apart from, but wrought out of nature. So far from being the
creation of fancy, it lives, breathes, and is to be found only in
nature. In this important principle, juster ideas are beginning rapidly
to diffuse their influence over the whole of our art, since theory
has been laid aside, and nature, and the antique, and real taste have
regained the ascendency.




ARCHITECTURE has been termed the Art of Necessity, in contradistinction
to Sculpture and Painting, which have been distinguished as the
offspring of elegance and luxury. To the first, the remark of the
ancient poet has been deemed most peculiarly applicable,

  'Hinc variæ venîre artes--labor omnia vicit
  Improbus, et duris urgens in rebus egestas.'

If there be, however, distinction in the first origin, it ceases long
before any of these can become the object of refined or useful inquiry.
The principles of all, considered in the rank of arts, originate in
the mind, though a sentiment of intelligent curiosity, or a sense of
corporeal weakness, and the desire of protection, first give visible
action to the latent germs of feeling and of ingenuity. Here, then,
appears the accidental, not distinctive character, in the originating
impulse, and in the species of imitative design thence resulting,
which is afterwards to call forth the most refined evidence of human
thought and genius. Man's first care would evidently be directed to the
discovery or construction of means of shelter against the inclemencies
of the sky under which his lot was cast. His best affections, no less
than his natural wants, would prompt him to this. But the cave of the
Troglodyte, or the hut of the savage, are not more connected with
science and forethought, than is the den of the tiger, or the lair of
the wolf, or the still more artful structure of the fowl. For no sooner
is the human creature thus established, his physical desires stilled,
not gratified, than begin the ceaseless aspirings of the spirit within;
the workings of that wondrous maze of understanding and of feeling, of
thought and volition, which so mysteriously bind, and so irresistibly
direct him to his higher and better destinies. Thence, and only thence,
springs, as a bright and pure emanation, though darkened for a while
in struggling through an imperfect medium, every effort thereafter to
instruct or to adorn a happier world.

In conformity with these views, it has appeared, that the first
attempts at sculptural or pictorial representation were dedicated to
piety, and to the social affections of the heart. In like manner, the
earliest and rudest erections of architecture now existing, as well
as the most perfect and magnificent, are temples to the Deity, or
memorials of the dead. There is, in these respects, indeed, a striking
proof of the existence of this law of mind,--not of mere instinct,
and, at the same time, of self-denial, in favor of the generous and
the holy in man's nature. Not only do we find, that, wherever the
human foot has been stayed, there is the altar, the temple, and the
tomb; but we meet these amid the destitution of every approach to that
luxury to which the arts have been ascribed; and, finally, we discover
a vast disproportion between the efforts dedicated to these tributes
of gratitude and affection, and those directed to personal comfort
or splendor. Jacob, while yet a wanderer in tents, consecrated, by a
pillar,--the first monument on record,--the spot where reposed his
beloved Rachael. Over the whole of the inhabited globe, not excepting
the dark heaths of our native land, are the last resting-places of the
dead, which must have required a union of care and labour given only
to a duty, everywhere held inviolably sacred. Even in the wilds of the
New World, there are sepulchres of like laborious structure, to which,
with a steadiness surer than that of the needle, the distant tribe
tracks its way though pathless woods. Compare, again, the evidence of
congregated energy, and even science, in the Druidical temples only,
with the glimpses we possess of the accommodations of common life. The
religious edifices of Egypt even yet fill the mind with admiration;
while the probable monuments of their dead, faithless, indeed, to their
individual trust, shall only sink amid the ruins of the world, enduring
testimonies of the power of religion and of futurity over the mind of
man, and of the vain attempt to convert that power into an instrument
of selfish aggrandisement. From all this, something better may be
deduced than even refuting the idea, that the sublimest objects of
taste indicate, in their origin, a grovelling necessity, and, in their
progress, owe their most graceful improvements to an idle luxury. In
this inseparable union of the primitive arts of taste with feelings of
religious service and of human affection, we perceive that man, even in
a state of natural darkness, is not the selfish, the irreligious being,
represented by a cold and material philosophy, equally the enemy of
taste as of religion.

Beyond these remarks it is not here necessary to trace the first origin
of Architecture. In this art are certainly to be detected the very
links of connexion, joining the knowledge of the descendants of Adam
with that of the families of Noah. We learn from Scripture, that soon
after the Flood, while yet the remembrance of that catastrophe was
fresh in the mind, the building of a city and a tower was commenced.
Such design could not have been entertained without some previous
model, or, at least, assurance that it might be accomplished. Such
model or such assurance could be derived only from antediluvian
experience or tradition; for it is in the highest degree improbable
that either could have originated, or been brought to such maturity,
in so short a space as intervenes between the descent of Noah from
the Ark, and the gigantic undertaking of his posterity. Again, the
materials were artificial; and of such perfection, well-burnt brick,
as we do not find mankind to have used in the same countries many
centuries afterwards. The construction, too, of that mysterious
relic of two worlds, which 'floated on the waters of the abyss,'
is a proof of high advance in the arts of the first. Subsequently,
all researches are at fault. From this state of intelligence and
union, mankind suddenly sink into the most wretched ignorance, and
disperse in wild confusion. A cause, such as the one in Sacred Writ,
could alone produce this effect. Broken fragments and glimmerings
of ancient knowledge, no doubt, remained with the scattered tribes
of the human family. But to trace usefully the extent, reunion, and
improvement of these imperfect elements, would be here a vain task.
The few valuable and only authentic memorials of the very early ages
are to be found in Scripture, which ascribes the origin of monuments
that may be termed architectural, to ratify contracts,--to mark the
place of the dead,--to indicate some remarkable event--to the altar
of stone; also, it contains the descriptions of regular buildings
of a later period, which have now passed away, as the walled cities
which the Israelites found in Canaan; their own early labours,--the
Temple of Solomon, the Palace of Lebanon, the 'House of Dagon,' and
other heathen temples incidentally mentioned in Scripture, to which
reference is made. All these erections and notices are confined to
that part of Asia which extends from the Black Sea to the mouth of the
Euphrates, and from the Mediterranean to the extremities of Persia.
Over the once magnificent architecture of the whole of this extensive
tract, including the seats of the most powerful and ancient monarchies
of Asia,--the Assyrian, Median, Babylonian, and Persian,--except what
can be gathered from scattered heaps of brick, utter forgetfulness
reigns. Later information is supplied by Herodotus and the Greek
writers; but, except the comparatively recent remains at Persepolis,
Baalbec, and Palmyra, already noticed, nothing exists that can throw
light upon our subject. A very different aspect, however, is presented
in Egypt and in India, where monuments of the most remote antiquity
remain, interesting in themselves, and as they tend to illustrate the
progress and the revolutions of Architecture in its more modern forms.
From an examination of the former, we shall be enabled to discover
the germs of the more perfect Greek modes, while, in the combinations
of Arabian with Indian forms, we seem to detect the rudiments of that
singular style, which, under the various appellations of Arabic,
Saracenic, Gothic, has extended over the whole of Europe, and a
considerable portion of Asia. Thus, one of the first and one of the
last departments of the present subject, one of its purest and one of
its most complicated systems, originates probably in countries now to
be considered, and whose monuments are coeval with the first reunion
of intelligence and society among men. But, before entering upon the
inquiry which is to trace this connexion through the history of the
art, it becomes necessary to explain certain common and preliminary

There are three grand causes of structure and form in
Architecture,--three leading principles, which not only originated
the primeval elements of design, but which, to a great degree, have
governed all the subsequent combinations of these. This influence also
extends not merely to the essentials of stability, equilibrium, and
strength, but, as will afterwards appear, has suggested the system of
ornament. These master dispositions, which it thus becomes necessary to
bear along with the commencement, are, first, _the purpose_--secondly,
_the material_ of Architecture--and thirdly, _the climate_.

The purpose for which any building was erected, or the uses which it
was contemplated to serve, would necessarily determine the magnitude,
and to a certain extent, the form. Again, these considerations would
suggest the most appropriate means of accomplishing the requisite ends,
which, once accomplished, would constitute permanent distinctions.

The materials, again, employed in architecture, have influenced
most decidedly its forms and character. This has been the case, not
only in the peculiar styles which have separately been adopted in
different countries, but in the general and essential principles of
the science. The materials of which buildings, in all ages, have been
chiefly constructed, are stone, wood, and factitious substances,
are tiles and bricks. The first adopting of these materials, and,
of course, the style of building, must have been recommended by the
resources of the country. The law, however, which determines their
arrangement is universal, arising from exigencies over which taste,
and even ingenuity, exert limited control. This evidently arises from
the nature of the question; for, since a mass of stone is heavier in
all, and weaker in most positions, than timber of equal dimensions,
the whole congeries of supporting and supported members--that is,
the whole system of architecture will be affected as the one or the
other material is employed. Thus, in wooden erections, the supporting
members may be much fewer and less massive than in structures of
stone; because, in the former, the horizontal or supported parts are
both lighter, and will carry an incumbent weight--as a roof--over a
much wider interval than in the latter. It is apparent, also, even for
the ordinary purposes of stability, that, in constructing edifices
of stone, whether of the perpendicular or horizontal members, the
dimensions would be greater than in elevations of wood; and in the
case of columnar structures, that the altitude, in proportion to the
diameter, would be far less in stone than in timber supports. Hence,
the two grand characteristics of a massive or solemn, and a light
or airy, architecture. Hence, also, when genius and taste had begun
to consider the arrangements of necessity and use in the relations
of effect and beauty, new combinations would be attempted, which
approached to one or other of these leading divisions. It must,
however, be obvious, that the field of these experiments is narrowed
by the very principles on which they would be first suggested. In the
art we are now considering, the human agent has less power over the
inertness of matter than in any other. Imagination comes in contact
with reality at every step, and the laws of nature impress the
boundaries of that reality, not at the risk of absurdity, but of very
being. Beauty becomes here, not the creation of fantasy--a something
pleasing only as it reflects our associations, or harmonizes with our
feelings; but is more especially the creation of science--the object
of demonstrative wisdom. Hence, perfect architectural beauty is the
most sublime and the most rational of the objects of taste; because,
while the susceptibilities of mind are awakened, the powers of judgment
are gratified, by the certainty with which the sources of pleasure can
be traced. We feel the arrangement to be beautiful; we know that it is
necessary. Hence, also, the perfect modes--the true combinations of the
art--are few; the error in departing from them great.

These refined perceptions do not indeed pertain to the period now
contemplated; but the facility with which they can be connected with
the first practice of the art, evinces how deeply rooted are the real
and substantial precepts of architectural design. The leading views,
also, in regard to the influence of material upon form, proportion, and
distribution of parts, are supported by early history.

In Egypt, a country destitute of wood, the most ancient erections
were in imitation of the natural caves in which the rude inhabitants
had sought a wretched shelter. In a later age, yet one which far
transcends the authentic researches of history, were reared those
mysterious edifices, still standing as landmarks between known and
unknown time. In the ponderous members of these solemn piles, the
narrowness of the intervals, the crowded pillars, the massive base,
and the lessened perpendicular, is found every principle previously
assumed as characteristic of that architecture, which would be governed
by necessity before the sensation of beauty had been felt, or at least
methodized. Here, also, appears the first species of architectural
design. Again, in that region of Asia, already noticed as the scene of
the earliest recorded labours of the art, wood was abundant. From the
descriptions of Holy Writ we accordingly find, that this material was
much employed even in their most sacred and important buildings. Thus,
though few details capable of giving any just architectural notions,
are preserved of Solomon's Temple, it is yet plain, that cedar wood
was the chief material both for roofs and columns, that is, both for
supported and supporting members. Hence, the temples of Palestine,
and of Syria generally, by which we understand the Asia of the Old
Testament, already described, were more spacious, but less durable than
those of Egypt, and with fewer upright supports. Of this, a singularly
striking proof occurs in the catastrophe of the House of Dagon, when
Samson, by overturning only two columns, brought down the whole fabric.

  As with the force of winds and waters pent,
  When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars,
  With horrible convulsion, to and fro
  He tugg'd, he shook, till down they came, and drew
  The whole roof after them, with bursts of thunder:
  The vulgar only 'scaped who stood without.

In an edifice constructed on the plan of the Egyptian Temple, where
pillar stands crowded behind pillar, in range beyond range, to give
support to the ponderous architrave and marble roof, the overturning of
two of these columns would produce but a very partial disintegration.
The very circumstance, also, of there being no remains in a country
where once stood the most renowned cities, proves the perishable nature
of the substance chiefly employed. There is evidence, also, that
stone and wood were often, perhaps usually, combined--the first as a
columnar or pier-like support, for horizontal beams of the latter. This
plainly appears to have been the case in the oldest ruin existing in
this part of the world, namely, Persepolis, where the marble columns
evidently bear marks of having been connected by cross beams of wood,
and to have supported a roof of the same light structure. Hence the
easy conflagration of this abode of the Persian kings, in a debauch
of Alexander. The columns are loftier, further apart, and fewer
in number, than in Egypt. Had not the illustration of the general
subject been of more importance in the establishment of this point,
reference might at once have been made to the early temples of Greece,
which, even to the age of Xerxes, were structures of wood; and to the
well-known difference of style between them and those of Egypt. Thus
we have the second species of architectural design; and again find the
facts, recounted by history, according with deductions from _a priori_
consideration of the nature, objects, and origin, of the art itself.
It may afford illustration of the certainty with which the principles
of reasoning operate, while the fact is singular, that ancient writers
describe the huts of the nomadic tribes on their dispersion, or, at
least, the earliest recorded residences of mankind, as composed of
poles, formed of the branches of trees, fixed in the earth, enclosing
a circular space, and meeting at top, the sloping sides being covered
with leaves, reeds, or skins. This is exactly the wigwam of the
aboriginal inhabitant of America. So much is man the creature of the
same instincts, under similar circumstances.

Climate will necessarily operate a considerable effect upon the
external arrangements of architecture. According to the latitude of
the situation, buildings will be contrived to admit or exclude the
sun, to give shelter from biting cold, or to secure against scorching
heat, or merely to yield shade, without immediate reference to either
extreme. All these, however, will not affect the internal harmonies
or proprieties of the constituent parts. Climate, therefore, is only
modifying, not creative, as the two preceding causes; it may suggest
composition, but hardly design; for, with the exception of the pointed
or flat roof, according to the humidity or dryness of the atmosphere,
consequently the angular pediment surmounting the horizontal lines
of the entablature, little of real form or order has been added, or
materially influenced, by climate. This cause, however, has given rise
to, or permitted, many picturesque combinations.

Purpose, besides the constitutional effects upon the science already
described, necessarily occasions the various classes under which
the labours of the architect may be arranged. Architecture, by this
principle, is separated into two grand divisions--Civil and Military.
The former of these, from its greater variety of purpose, is further
subdivided into subordinate heads, namely, placing each in the order of
its probable antiquity, Sacred, Monumental, Municipal, and Domestic.
These modifications of purpose do not, indeed, give novel principles,
nor do they affect any of the conclusions already explained; they
have only, though strongly, influenced the practice of the art. In
presenting an abstract of the history of the science of Architecture,
then, it is not requisite to dwell particularly upon these divisions,
nor to be guided by them in the future arrangement of our matter.
But as we may occasionally revert, by a passing word, to the obvious
distinctions which are thus perceived, a short explanation, especially
as several scattered particulars of very early times can thus be
properly assembled, will here be useful.

_Sacred Architecture_ is a term sufficiently expressive of its own
import. It was the primitive effort of the present race of man; the
first impress of his existence left upon the soil, yet moist from the
waters of the deluge, was the erection of an altar; and the noblest
evidence of his most accomplished skill has been a temple:

  ----'His greatest ornament of fame,
  And strength, and art.'

From the 'altar builded by Noah,' how interesting to follow out the
effects of one uncontrollable, but, when unguided, erring sentiment
in the steadfast piles--'works of Memphian kings,' in the glorious
proportions of Greece, where

                    ----'Doric pillars,
  Cornice, and frieze, with bossy sculptures graven,'

rear their graceful height, looking tranquil magnificence--down even to
the rude circle of grey stones on the bleak heath! For this inquiry,
visible materials are indeed wanting; but does not the Word of Truth
supply the general inference, 'The imaginations of man's heart are
wicked--he has sought out many inventions--but I will be honored among
the generations of men?'

Incidental allusion has already been made to the marvellous fabric
reared by Solomon, which, if not in grace, in splendor of decoration
appears to have exceeded all the erections of the early ages, and
is the first of which written notice remains. The descriptions of
this building enable us to form a reunion of the arts of Sculpture
and Architecture at the commencement of the tenth century before
Christ. This date, however, we consider to be at least six hundred
years later than the era of any Egyptian monument, not of brick, now
extant throughout the whole course of the Nile. In considering, also,
the countries whence Solomon obtained workmen, will be remarked the
confirmation of the preceding observations on the originating causes of
styles in architecture. The hewers of stone, we are informed, were from
Egypt; and the solid substructions of the Jewish temple, the massive
proportions of the separate parts--resemblances still more striking
in Josephus' account of the second edifice--show exactly the same
principles and practice as can to this day be traced in the Egyptian
structures. From Phoenicia, again, a country abounding in timber, were
brought the most skilful 'hewers of wood,' that is, workmen instructed
in the arts of the joiner and carpenter, and also, as may be inferred
from various descriptions of the ornamental appendages, of the carver
or sculptor in wood,--'and the cedar of the house within was carved
with open knops and flowers;' again, and 'he made two cherubims of
olive tree.' These sculptures, however, might have been finished, and,
from the state of art in that country, most probably were the work of
artists from Egypt. There can be no doubt that the 'House,' as the
magnificent pile is emphatically termed, was of a quadrangular outline,
erected upon a solid platform of stone, bearing a strong resemblance to
the ancient temples still extant. Indeed, there is, in this respect,
a most striking analogy between the dimensions as given in Scripture,
and those of the oldest Greek temples, especially of Ægina and Pæstum.
This latter we have examined, and, agreeing to the fidelity of the
grounds upon which Wilkins has founded his reasonings, in the admirable
dissertation on this subject in his preface to the 'Antiquities of
Magna Grecia,' we cannot coincide in the final conclusion, that the
Greeks borrowed the Doric order from this ancient temple of Solomon.
Reference to this subject is hereafter to be made. In the meantime,
while facts are fresh in the mind, it must be obvious to the reader,
that, since the shell or carcass of the temple of Jerusalem was of
stone, and built by Egyptian workmen, alone skilled in that material,
the general arrangements would resemble those of the Egyptian temples.
Consequently, the Greeks and the Jews, deriving their leading orders
from one source, would naturally, though unconsciously, imitate each
other. Again, since wood was employed in every part of the roof and
interior by Solomon, on the principles already explained, the relative
proportions of the parts, and the number of the supports, would
necessarily be different, compared with the similar members of Egyptian
art. But the Greeks also in part followed the laws of wooden structure;
consequently both differing, on similar principles, from the original
model, would yet preserve mutual resemblance in that very difference.

_Monumental Architecture_, deriving its origin from allied feelings
and associations, would be coeval, or nearly so, with the origin of
sacred. Indeed, it is not possible always to separate the two distinct
purposes. Monuments have two objects in view--to honor the memory
of the dead, and to preserve remembrance of the transactions of the
living; both of which are recorded in Scripture. The material of a
monumental erection, and consequently its design, will always, in early
times, be determined by the circumstances of the vicinity, with the
sole exception of wood. Hence pillars of stone, and mounds of earth,
are the primitive records of both life and death. In a more advanced
age, when stone could not be readily procured, brick would be employed.
The magnitude and beauty will accord with the skill of the times. Hence
arise sources of determining the relative antiquity of monuments, and
the circumstances of the age. Under almost every privation of means,
and in all countries, 'heaped earth' would present a durable and an
accessible material. Hence the universality of this species of monument
throughout the globe. This primitive accumulation of efforts--for
an earthen mound can be considered as nothing more--seems to have
given origin to the most gigantic labours of human architecture. The
pyramids of Egypt, and the cognate structures of India, seem to be
imitations, wonderful indeed, of the more ancient barrow. They are,
in fact, but mounds of higher art and more valuable materials. Their
intermediate forms, indeed, may be traced in both countries, at least
in the curve which would bound the perpendicular section of the mound.
In India, however, pyramids seem, from the extent of the interior, and
the facility of access, to have been chiefly intended for places of
crowded resort--most likely, therefore, temples. In Egypt, again, the
single chamber, the imperviously closed entrance, appear to indicate
with precision their original destination to have been sepulchral.
It has already been remarked, that the Arts are themselves their own
best interpreters, and that little faith is to be placed in the remote
analogies of philology, which have too frequently been admitted in
evidence beyond their value; but it has often been matter of surprise,
that two words, belonging to the most ancient forms of the Syriac
language, should have been overlooked in the numerous derivations of
the word pyramid. _Peer_ and _Muid_, as the words in question may be
rendered in our characters, united, as in Eastern languages, forming
compound expressions, would give almost identical sound, and in
signification, 'the hill or mountain of the dead,' would be nearer the
purpose and appearance than any derivation with which we are acquainted.

Under the head of _Municipal Architecture_ is included every
application of the science to those purposes of social life not
included under the former heads, such as public buildings of all
descriptions connected with the civil business of life, up to the
arrangements of entire cities. Men, therefore, must have been assembled
together for some time, they must have agreed upon certain compacts
and regulations of society, before this branch could have made any
progress in the world. Yet we find, that not more than a century after
the flood, a city was begun, a fact already attempted to be explained;
and to what was then said it may be farther added, that the Tower
of Babel, which belonged to this city, was clearly monumental--it
was 'to make a name.' Although no vestiges of the ancient cities of
Asia or of Egypt remain, sufficient from inspection to corroborate
the descriptions of history, these lead to the belief, that, in many
instances, the plan and architecture were both regular and grand. The
reader, however, ought to be on his guard against the amplifications
of Scriptural and Homeric accounts contained in later authorities, in
as far as the former describe relatively, according to the state of
things in their own age and experience; whereas the latter, too often
forgetting this distinction, convey the impression, that grandeur
and magnificence were absolute. Yet, even with this abatement, there
remains sufficient ground of admiration in the ideas excited of Thebes,
Babylon, Nineveh, or Memphis. There appears, in this respect, a very
striking difference between the cities of the second age, after the
arts had migrated into Europe. Many circumstances tend to confirm the
opinion, that, even in Greece, Municipal Architecture in general was
not much studied, and that there were few, if any, really fine cities
among the numerous capitals of that country. Their magnificence was
concentrated in particular spots--in their agorai, or squares. Their
temples usually stood apart; so that, like the cities of modern Italy,
whatever might be the beauty, or the romantic effect of their distant
appearance, internally, they often appear to have been little more
than an irregular assemblage of narrow winding streets. Such we know
Athens to have been to a very late period. Sparta was long an unwalled
village. Argos, Thebes, or Corinth, cannot be placed in comparison
with the before mentioned capitals of Asia and Egypt. Even Rome, to
the age of Nero, was crowded, unwholesome, and mean, over a great
portion of its less important surface. In one respect, however, it
seems to have differed greatly from every other ancient city of which
we read, namely, in the great elevation of the houses; in almost every
other instance we are led to an opposite inference, which is further
corroborated by the present appearance of Pompeii.

With the _Domestic Architecture_ of the primitive ages, to which our
accounts have hitherto been confined, the acquaintance to be obtained
is exceedingly limited. In the description of Solomon's Palace, and
in various passages of Homer, considerable details are given of the
palatial dwellings; but how the greater part of mankind were lodged,
few means of determining remain. Protection against the vicissitudes
of climate would first employ the instinctive ingenuity of man; next,
conveniency would be consulted, by enlarging the dimensions of his
abode. Both these objects might be obtained, while yet the original
circular area was retained. As some ideas, however, of the comforts
and decencies of life prevailed, seclusion of the different orders and
sexes in the members of the family would be sought; and hence division
of one common apartment into separate portions. But as circular space
admits of division very imperfectly, and with loss, this new necessity
would introduce, or at least render permanent, the rectangular shape of
the domestic abode.

_Military Architecture_ is but little connected with the history of the
science, from the peculiar nature of those principles of construction
which it recognises. Here design is regulated by circumstances
external to the art, and which, therefore, though enriched by novel
combinations in its later and more impure modes, received originally
no component elements, from a branch which has universally and largely
engrossed the attention of mankind. The application of architecture
to the purposes of defence, would not take place till a comparatively
later period in the history of the species. Men would previously have
acquired ideas of the right and value of property, and divided into
separate communities by political or moral distinctions. Mere defence
would be the first object in military erections; a wall, a rampart, or
barrier, of altitude and strength sufficient to resist, or rather to
disappoint, any sudden attack, would be all for some time required;
and, subsequently, with facility of access to the summit, for the
purpose of hurling stones from vantage ground upon the assailants,
these defences for long would be complete, by the obvious addition of
a ditch. As the arts of violence, and especially as missile warfare
improved, experience would point out the impossibility of defending,
even with a ditch, a long unbroken line of wall, consistently with the
safety of the defenders, who, in the attempt to overlook the whole,
would necessarily be exposed to the hostile weapons. To obviate this
defect, and that the whole line might be seen, and the approaches
commanded from points within itself, towers projecting beyond the face
of the wall were constructed, thus finishing the whole of the science
of ancient fortification. Cities, with towers and battlements on this
plan, were found by the Jews in Syria, where they had existed for ten
centuries before. The same was the system of the Greeks and Romans; and
all the varieties of feudal defences are but applications, and even the
inventions now in use are but modifications of the primeval fortress,
which, in adaptations to the exigencies and science of the time, have
also removed from it all picturesque effect and all scenic grandeur,
such as the fortalice of old, even in its 'ruins grey,' yet produces.

Such is a rapid sketch of the origin and principles of architectural
design; and such the extent to which, in practice, history informs us
they had been carried in the ancient world. The details, necessarily
very imperfect, now given, belong to what may be termed the first age
in the history of the art. The second era commences with the earliest
appearances of regular architectural science in Europe, marked by the
erection of temples in Greece, soon after, or nearly contemporary with,
the labours of Solomon, which were commenced 1015 B. C.

Before entering upon European art, it will be useful, as formerly
hinted, briefly to examine the monuments still existing in Egypt of
the architecture of the first age,--the probable sources of those
primitive modes, which, adopted in rudeness, by Grecian taste refined
and matured, have become immutable. In addition to what has already
been stated in the first article, and in reference to the present
subject, it will be necessary merely to explain the general character
and principles of these aboriginal structures, with the view of
ascertaining whether, and to what extent, these have influenced the
subsequent and more perfect science of the Grecian architect.

Of ancient Egypt, the government was not only peculiar, but
contemplated peculiar results--pursued, too, with undeviating purpose,
through an unknown succession of ages. Hence the enduring greatness of
the works it has left; but as the ends were, from the commencement, so
fixed as to forbid progressive means, hence the uniformity of imperfect
character in these labours, exhibiting much of the elements, but none
of the perfections of taste.

The eternal durability to which, in all things, the hierarchy aspired,
pointed out a style of architecture, especially in their sacred
buildings, retaining, as most substantial, only the simplest forms and
the largest masses. Hence, in these mysterious structures, whatever
deficiency may be perceived in beauty or grace, is compensated by
vastness and simplicity, the most powerful elements of the grand.
In beholding these mighty fabrics, then, even laying aside the
associations of unnumbered centuries, if neither the most refined nor
agreeable emotions be experienced, the imagination is exalted to a high
pitch of awe, astonishment, and admiration. Long withdrawing lines,
unbroken surfaces, simple contours, immense blocks, even while the
individual forms are destitute of proportion, harmony, or grace, will
ever produce a solemn sublimity of effect.

But it now occurs to inquire, before the merit of rational design can
be granted, or these architectonic labours admitted among the works
of genius,--Do these lofty effects arise from principle, or are they
purely accidental? Are they the meditated results of science and taste,
or are they merely inevitable consequences of the large and enduring
style which the political system recommended?

Upon the nature of the reply to these questions will, in a great
measure, depend the rank of the Greeks, as original inventors and
refiners of taste in architecture. Now, there can be no doubt that in
these, to use Strabo's expression, 'barbarous monuments of painful
labour,' the sublimity and imposing solemnity of the general effect
is incidental, not inherent. It is the grandeur of mass, not of
proportion. The imagination is subdued, indeed, by vastness, but
neither is the fancy delighted by tracing a well preserved resemblance
to any acknowledged prototype, nor is the judgment instructed
by the contemplation of a harmony consistent in itself, though
deriving its elements from no immediate source. We discover neither
imitation nor creative taste, for imitation is ever destroyed by
some monstrous incongruity, and originality becomes aimless through
interminable variety of accessories. As a science, then, beyond the
rules necessarily imposed by the leading intention of durability, we
detect nothing in the architecture of Egypt like the universal harmony
given to it in Greece. The same is the character of Indian art, with
still more of incongruous union; for here the massive simplicity of
the original, or at least earliest source, for so we have already
shown Egyptian art to be, is broken down and loaded with frittered
and pretending ornament, Syria, or the vast district lying between,
furnishes nothing beyond conjecture, or rather in the only instance,
that of Solomon's labours, where we attain some information on which
implicit reliance may be placed--clear manifestations are discovered
of mixed art, in which that of Egypt predominated. Thus, in the whole
of the ancient world, about a thousand years before our present era,
and when the Greeks first, or soon after, began to erect temples, there
existed no science complete in itself, or whose principles even had
been elicited from the chaotic mass of materials, by which they could
have been directed, in their own matchless monuments. Whatever of
grace and of beauty--of dignity and truth--of sublimity and harmonious
proportion,--whatever of architectonic excellence, grounded on the
most profound principles of taste, and established on the sure basis
of geometry,--whatever of all this can be discovered in the building
of Greece, she owes it to the superiority of native genius. Yet the
obligations to Egyptian predecessors were neither few nor unimportant.
The rectangular area, in which the breadth should bear a proportion
less to the length, a shape of all others best adapted to beauty and
convenience, was introduced. A still less obvious source of almost
every higher beauty in the science--columnar architecture--was there
practised so early, that whether it originated in the country, or was
introduced, is unknown. Even the system of ornament may, in its rise
at least, be traced in these primeval remains; for not a single detail
afterwards introduced may not, in a rudimental, often nearly perfected
state, be remarked; especially the beautiful idea of floral ornaments.
Lastly, in the works of Egyptian art, very perfect examples of
mechanical practice, both in dressing and laying the materials, might
be observed in almost every instance. All these elements, however, the
last excepted, jarring among themselves, whether as wholes or parts,
were to be selected, arranged, methodized, and animated by grace,
harmony, nobleness,--in short, the science of architecture was yet to
be created.


IN treating briefly of the architecture of Greece, though there still
exist remains of astonishing magnitude, and of the greatest beauty yet
attained among men, there are, notwithstanding, manifold difficulties
in the attempt to treat historically of its origin and progress.
Whatever information is to be derived from native writers composes
merely incidental notices, mixed up with those wild traditions and
dreamy lore, in which the Greeks, from ignorance or vanity, or both,
seem to have delighted in wrapping up the sources of their knowledge.
It is almost certain, indeed, that they never possessed, on the
present subject, any writings beyond the mere technical treatises
which must have been in the hands of architects. The compilation
of Vitruvius might be supposed amply to supply this defect of more
original materials; but, as respects the history of the art, this is
not the case. His accounts of the state of architecture in his own
time, that of Augustus, and the various scientific details into which
he enters, are excellent; they show him to have probably possessed all
the requisites which he enumerates as necessary to form an accomplished
architect, high as he rates the profession. The historical department
of his work, again, is extremely defective, not only in point of
research, but in the fanciful nature of the theories. He entirely keeps
out of view all reference to skill anterior to the arts of Greece;
while, with the incredible fables received in that country, he mixes
up no less groundless notions of his own. To these difficulties in the
more ancient sources of information, there is to be added the obscurity
arising from modern hypothesis.

Under these circumstances, and while the present limits preclude
lengthened discussion on any topic, the most eligible and useful
procedure appears to offer in a plain narrative of facts, illustrated
by a description of actual remains, by reference to ancient authors,
particularly Homer, and by analogies drawn from the state of society
and manners. Here there can be given only the general results of such
an inquiry.

The earliest architectural remains in Greece appear to have been
military erections, or at least constructions for the purposes of
defence. This corresponds with the condition of a country, peopled,
as we know this portion of Europe to have been, when first noticed
in history, by different tribes, hostile, generally speaking, to
each other, and in all instances fearing and feared by the rude and
fierce aboriginal possessors. In the instances where comparison can be
instituted, the gigantic elements of these structures, and the manner
of their union, refer us to Egypt, or the cognate style of Syria; most
probably, however, to the former, by way of Crete, which, as already
shown, formed the intervening station in the progress of civilization.
The traditions, whether poetical, or merely narrative, connected with
these monuments--whether they be ascribed to the labours of the gods,
or to the arts of the Cyclops, whence their common appellation--all
point to a foreign origin, and to imported skill. This knowledge, too,
must have been brought from a distance. Even on the adjacent shores of
Asia, we find the walls of Troy ascribed by Homer to celestial skill--a
clear proof that in his time there existed, neither in Greece, nor in
the neighboring regions, experience adequate to such a work.

Of these fortresses, the most celebrated, and probably the most
ancient, is Tiryrns, in the plain of Argos, and attributed to the
Lycians, about six generations prior to the Trojan war. This cyclopean
wall includes a circuit of about a quarter of a mile, enclosing an
inconsiderable elevation above the general level of the plain. Thus
have evidently been composed the defences of the included town; but the
disproportion between the means of security and the object protected
appears amazing, and must have been considered as wonderful even in the
age of Homer, who, in his catalogue, distinguishes this city by the
epithet 'well-walled,' or, as Pope has rendered the passage,

  Whom strong Tyrenthé's lofty walls surround.

Indeed, of all the characteristics added to the Grecian confederates,
the distinction of their walled cities is by far the most frequent.
Of all these, however, the one now mentioned only retains a degree of
regularity seeming to bid defiance to further dilapidation from time,
and capable of being overturned only by a force equal to that employed
in the construction. Several entrances are yet to be traced, one of
which has, opening into it, a gallery formed in the thickness of the
wall. It is worthy of remark, that the top of this passage is covered,
exactly as in the great pyramid, by immense stones, placed one on each
side, and meeting at an acute angle in the centre. Near in point of
situation, but somewhat later in time, are the walls of the 'proud
Mycenæ' of Homer, an interesting ruin in the age of Thucydides, four
hundred years before our era. These remains show evident correspondence
with the style of Egypt. The very gateway, described by the author just
mentioned, and subsequently by Pausanius, still remains; formed of
single blocks, the jambs incline narrowing upwards to eight feet, and
support a lintel twelve feet in length.[D]

Next in point of antiquity and preservation to the preceding are those
singular remains in Greece; to which the name of Treasury has been
given, on the supposition, that as the former were constructed as
defences against hostile violence, the latter were erected as places
of security for valuable property. From the frequent mention of such
structures during the heroic age, and from the preservation of the
names, true or false, of two architects, Agamides and Trophonius,
most eminent in their construction, they seem to have been regarded
as of no ordinary importance. We are informed that both states and
individuals had such places of safe custody, before temples either
existed or were employed as repositories for treasure. Of these
buildings, one of the most perfect, and indeed the most interesting
relic of those earliest times, is the treasury of Atreus amid the ruins
of Mycenæ. Externally it presents the appearance of a mound of earth;
but the interior is found to be a magnificent structure, circular,
fifty feet in diameter, and rather more in height, composed of stones
of great size, each course projecting inwards and over the one below,
till, meeting in a small aperture at top, the whole is shut in by a
mass of very large dimensions. The general form is thus a hollow cone,
or paraboloid, the surface of which appears to have been coated with
plates of metal, as brazen nails still remain in many parts. These
defences, both for person and property, prepared with such skill and
solicitude, afford a very striking view of the turbulent and dangerous
state of society. They are, in fact, records, lasting almost as the
Iliad itself, of an age capable of such outrages as gave foundation
to that divine poem, and to whose verisimilitude they thus supply
unequivocal testimony.

Into the condition of domestic architecture during the same period,
neither the poems of Homer, nor any collateral source, afford much
insight. Both in the Iliad and Odyssey, palaces are described, but
in an extremely general as well as indefinite manner. Between these
loose accounts and the graphic delineations which the same author
has given of sculptured ornaments, as in the shield of Achilles, it
is easy to perceive the difference of a description without a model,
and from reality. Sculpture, as a regular art, had already made
progress; the science of architecture was yet unknown. These palaces,
which appear to have answered all purposes of public edifices, are
described as very capacious, as containing numerous apartments, and as
very rich in doors of ivory and gold, with posts of silver; but not
the slightest impression occurs indicative of any regular order of
architectonic ornament or design. Magnificence and lavish profusion of
splendor are everywhere confounded with beauty and grace and regular
art. During the Homeric age, then, it is plain that the orders were
yet unknown--a deduction exactly tallying with the state of art in
Egypt, where from the inspection of existing monuments, it is evident,
that a system or order was in like manner undiscovered. True, the
Egyptian edifices resemble each other in general character, and even
to their measurements agree; but the same building rises into endless
multiplicity of subordinate parts and forms. So Homer heaps riches
upon riches, ornament above ornament, making that fine which he cannot
render great. This affords more valuable evidence of his veracity than
it detracts from his genius. Even the palace of Troy, though Paris
himself is represented as a great architect, is described in the same
general terms:

  And now to Priam's stately courts he came,
  Raised on arch'd columns of stupendous frame;
  O'er these a range of marble structure runs,
  The rich pavilion of his fifty sons,
  In fifty chambers lodged; and rooms of state,
  Opposed to these, where Priam's daughters sat;
  Twelve domes for them, and their loved spouses shone,
  Of equal beauty, and of polished stone.

This, and indeed almost every other passage referring to the practical
arts of antiquity, is very incorrectly translated. From a comparison
of various original descriptions of palatial buildings, a tolerable
idea of the highest efforts of architecture during the Homeric and
succeeding ages may be obtained. They appear universally to have been
placed so as to enclose a court, along the sides of which ran an open
corridore, formed by pillars; for the word corresponding to column
does not once occur in the Iliad. These pillars, as may still be seen
in Egyptian buildings, were united by flat epistylia or architraves,
for the phrase, 'arched columns,' is nonsense. During the times of the
Iliad, no division of stories appears to have been practised; and the
expression lofty chamber, so often occurring, seems to imply that the
whole was open to the roof; for the apartments, with the exception of
the great hall, do not otherwise induce the idea of great magnitude. In
the Odyssey again, to this mode of division distinct reference is made,
a circumstance which, with many others respecting the arts, points
to a later as the age of that poem. The roof itself may be inferred
from incidental remarks to have been pointed, composed of wooden beams
inclined towards each other, and supported in the central angle by
columns or shafts of wood; for wherever the word occurs in the early
poetical literature of Greece, an internal member is implied, and from
the casual introduction, one of necessity, not ornament, the only
adjunct being lofty or tall, exactly corresponding with the distinction
here supposed.

It is evident, then, that we must examine elsewhere for the origin of
ornamental architecture in Greece. And the only other department of the
art refers to buildings for sacred purposes. But even here, mighty and
graceful as are the existing ruins, many ages elapse before we reach
the era of the temple--where

    The whole so measured true, so lessen'd off,
    By fine proportion that the marble pile,
    Form'd to repel the still or stormy waste
    Of rolling ages, light as fabrics look'd,
    That from the magic wand aerial rise.

Throughout the whole of the Iliad no mention occurs of a temple in
Greece, except in the second book, evidently incidental, and the
interpolation of some vainly patriotic Athenian rhapsodist. The
passage, indeed, might be condemned, on the grounds of philological
discussion, but it contradicts both the history of art and of religion
in that country. In Troy, the temple of Minerva appears to have been a
mere shrine, in which a statue was enclosed, and probably, in Tenedos,
a temple of Apollo is merely alluded to. During the age of Homer,
then, the primeval altar, common both to Europe and Asia, was the only
sacred edifice known. This differed little from a common hearth; the
sacrifice being in fact a social rite, the victim, at once an offering
to heaven, and the food of man, was prepared by roasting; the first
improvement upon this simple construction appears to have been the
addition of a pavement, an obvious means of cleanliness and comfort.
Yet even this appears to have constituted a distinction at least not
common, since, in particular instances, the pavement is mentioned as a
peculiar ornament. Subsequently, in order to mark in a more conspicuous
manner, and with more dignity, the sacred spot, while the rites should
be equally exposed to the spectators, an open colonnade was added,
enclosing the altar and pavement. Thus the roofless temple might be
said to be finished; but whether this primeval structure existed in
his native country during the age of Homer, does not appear. We remark
here a very striking resemblance between the ancient places of devotion
in Greece, and the Druidical temple of the more northern regions. In
fact, the astonishing remains at Stonehenge present the best known,
and perhaps one of the most stupendous examples ever erected of the
open temple. This species of religious erection appears to have been
co-extensive with the spread of the human race, and not, as generally
supposed, limited to the northern portion of the globe.

The revolutions in Greece, which abolished the regal, while they
respected and increased the pontifical authority, the gradual additions
of magnificence and convenience to the places of sacrifice, producing
at length the regular temple; the change of design from the circle
to the quadrangle; all these can now only be conjectured as to their
causes and progressive vicissitudes. One thing appears certain,
that the earliest approaches to the perfect temple were erections
of wood; and this materially contributed to fix the character of
later architecture: yet there still remain temples of stone, whose
date transcends the epochs of known history. During this interval,
Grecian architecture assumed regularity and science, for the earliest
dawnings of authentic information light us to monuments of a systematic
style, differing from the Egyptian in the rejection of all variety of
ornament, yet, like it, solemn, massive, and imposing. This is the
order which, subsequently, under the name of Doric, extended over the
whole of Greece and her colonies. To this the most ancient species
of the art, various origin has been assigned; but from our imperfect
knowledge of contemporary events, and from the impossibility of
extending research, it is plain that nothing can with certainty be
known. The most ably supported, but not less improbable theory, is
that of Dr Wilkins, already referred to, who supposes the order to
have been directly introduced from Syria, and Solomon's temple; his
reasonings and calculations on this subject present a rare combination
of ingenuity, learning, and practical science. The premises, however,
are assumed, namely, that the word translated 'chapiter' in the
common version of the book of Kings, means not only the capital, but
includes the entablature also; a gratuitous assumption, opposed by the
dimensions still visible in the parent source of Egyptian columns,
and which, even granted, would not prove an identity in purpose and
proportion with the Greek order. The hypothesis of Vitruvius is
fanciful, namely, that the proportion of the human foot to the height
of the body, was adopted as the rule for the proportion of the base
to the elevation of the column. The most probable view seems to be,
that this order sprung up as the fruit of continued observation on
the practice of Egyptian art, as compared with the methods of wooden
erection employed among the early Greeks themselves. This would
necessarily give an intermediate style in simplicity and lightness;
the pine, common in the ancient forests of Greece, truncated for any
purpose, gives at once a very near approximation to the shaft; the
same tree converted into a squared beam, gives the horizontal binding
or architrave; the merely ornamental or subordinate members would be
suggested in progressive operations of experience, or they might be
introduced by selection; for, as already noted, every ornament of
succeeding art, though not under the same combinations, is to be found
in the Egyptian modes. The whole history of taste, even as touched
upon in these pages, favors this slow and native growth of an art
among every people remarkable for its successful cultivation. The
three orders--the Doric, the Ionic, and the Corinthian, exhibit also
this gradual process of discovery and advance to perfection. It is
historically, as well as poetically true, that

              ----First, unadorn'd,
  And nobly plain, the manly Doric rose;
  The Ionic then with decent matron grace
  Her airy pillar heaved; luxuriant last
  The rich Corinthian spread her wanton wreath.

The character of genius in Greece likewise favors these views, more
exquisitely alive to beauty, to propriety, to decorous simplicity and
grandeur, than distinguished for those qualities that more decisively
belong to invention--fire, impetuosity, wild irregularity, or rude

Neither then were the primitive elements invented, and thence without
aid of more ancient knowledge, the orders or systems of architecture
brought to perfection in Greece; nor was any one of these introduced
wholly or at once in a state approaching to perfect symmetry and
arrangement. In this, as in all their arts, no less than in their
literature, the Greeks borrowed, imitated, selected,--and yet they
created--they assimilated discordant variety to one solemn breathing
harmony--they brought out every latent germ of beauty that lay
overwhelmed in the mass of more ancient thought. From the dark yet
mighty accumulations of Eastern knowledge and skill, their genius spake
forth that light and that perfection which, in human wisdom and taste,
still guides, corrects, and animates. Yet their improvements were but
so many--important indeed--intermediate gradations in the universal
system of obligation which nations owe to each other. But while sound
judgment constrains the rejection of the exclusive pretensions of
the Greek writers on the particular subject in question, it must be
confessed there is in these something more than pleasing. They are
not selfish; they are deeply connected with the sympathies and the
feelings--the truest, best associations in objects of art. Though we
find all the elements of composition in Egyptian architecture, and must
believe that the Greek orders were in their origin thence derived;
yet the very idea, that the sedate grandeur of the Doric borrowed
its majesty from imitation of man's vigorous frame and decorous
carriage; or that the chaste proportions of the graceful Ionic were but
resemblances of female elegance and modesty,--the belief of all this,
so carefully cherished, was calculated to produce the happiest effect
upon living manners. So also, though the origin of the Corinthian
capital is apparent in an object emblematic over the whole East,
and not unknown even in some Christian forms, the mysterious lotus,
whose leaves so frequently constitute the adornment of the Egyptian
column; still, how dear to the heart the thought of most perfect skill
receiving its model from the humble tribute of affection placed on the
grave of the Corinthian maid, round which nature had by chance thrown
the graceful acanthus! If, in the sober inquiries of history, such
opinions are removed, the act is done with regret. Yet in this onward
path of truth, if one blossom planted there by human feeling must be
beaten down, how grateful the incense even of the crushed flower!

The three orders now mentioned constitute the whole system of Greek
architecture. The Doric appears to have been the most ancient,
and continued down to the period of the Roman conquest to be most
extensively employed in the European states of Greece, as these were
colonized chiefly by the Dorians--hence the name. Of this order are the
most celebrated remains of ancient art, which may be divided into two
great classes, namely, those of Greece, and of the Greek settlements
in Sicily and Southern Italy. The first class of buildings comprehends
a space extending from the earliest traditions, when Æachus, in the
commencement of the tenth century before Christ, is reported to have
built the temple of Jupiter still remaining in Ægina, to the erection
of the Parthenon, the noblest monument of this order, which, from its
beauty, and the predilection in its favor, has been termed the Grecian.
Subsequently, decline appears so early as the era of the Macedonian
empire; but the latest erection is supposed coeval with the reign of
Augustus. Within the ten centuries thus comprehended between the first
and last application of the Doric order, must have been erected those
magnificent structures whose ruins still adorn Greece. The probable
ages of these are as follow: commencing with the Æginetic ruin just
mentioned, whose date is lost in remote antiquity, and which seems to
have formed the second remove only in the march of art westward from
its primeval sources, to Crete, Ægina, Greece. Next, the celebrated
four columns near Corinth. The temple of Jupiter at Olympia either
precedes or follows, the architect Libon, and the roof, the first of
the kind, formed of marble tiles, the invention of Byzes of Naxos. An
interval occurs here, carrying us forward to the Athenian structures,
the most ancient of which, the temple of Theseus, belongs to a much
later period than any of the preceding. The date of the Propylea and
the Parthenon crowning the Acropolis, and placed in situation as in
excellence eminently conspicuous, is fixed by the most splendid names
in Grecian art;--they were built under the direction of Phidias, the
former by Mnesicles, the latter by Ictinus, encouraged by the patronage
of Pericles.

  Ancient of days! august Athena! where,
  Where are thy men of might? thy grand in soul?
  Gone--glimmering through the dream of things that were.
  First in the race that led to Glory's goal,--
  They're sought in vain, and o'er each mouldering tower,
  Dim with the mist of years, grey flits the shade of power.

To Ictinus is also to be ascribed the most perfect vestige of antiquity
now in existence, the Temple of the Apollo Epicurius, in Arcadia, and
which is reported to have been one of the most splendid buildings of
the Peloponnesus. The magnificent columns which 'crown Sunium's marble
steep,' belong to the same era, and probably to the same school. For
sixty years afterwards, we have no decline in the grandeur or purity
of the Doric, as yet appears in the ruins of Messene, a city built
by Epaminondas, and still exhibiting the most perfect specimen of
ancient military architecture. But the victories of this warrior were
parricidal triumphs; they were gained over those who ought to have been
as brothers. In sculpture, we have already seen that this era marks
the retrogression of the manly and the grand in style; it is so in
architecture, for in less than forty years, a great declension in these
respects must have taken place in this the grandest and most severe
of the orders, as is attested by the specimen in the isle of Delos,
inscribed with the name of Philip of Macedon. After this the Doric
either fell into desuetude, or the works have perished, for the only
remaining example is the portico, erected by Augustus in one of the
_agorai_ or squares of Athens.

Of the remains of Doric architecture in the ancient seats of the
Sicilan and Italian colonies, the dates, even with ordinary accuracy,
it is impossible individually to ascertain. The former claim the
highest antiquity in some, but not in all instances. The temple
of Egesta, in the interior of the island, is perhaps one of the
oldest, yet among the least imperfect monuments of the art in Europe;
contemporary or earlier, is the temple of Minerva, at Syracuse; the
other remains near that city are of a later date. The ponderous ruins
at Selinus, which consist of no less than six temples, one of which,
three hundred and thirty-one feet in length, composed of a double
peristyle of columns sixty feet high, must have presented one of the
sublimest objects ever reared by human art. Ruins at Agrigentum--Temple
of Juno most picturesque, of Concord very perfect--three others, last
the grand Temple of Olympian Jupiter, one of the most stupendous
buildings of the ancient world, and whose buried materials swell into
hills or subside in valleys, over which we have ourselves wandered,
without at first knowing that we trode upon the prostrate labours of
man, and not the workings of nature.

With the exception of the two first, these remains as also the Temple
of Apollo, at Gela, seem to be nearly of the same age. Indeed, their
erection can be fixed between certain limits, by comparison of
historical details, in which, either by direct mention or inference,
a connexion is traced between the political condition and the arts of
the Sicilian cities. Proceeding in this manner, it is found that all of
these enormous piles rose in little more than a century, embracing the
greater part of the fifth, and the early portion of the fourth, before
our era. These edifices thus fall in with the interval already noticed
between the earliest Doric buildings in Greece, and the erection of
the Athenian temples. Accordingly, there appear in them more noble
proportions and a greater elevation of column than in the former, still
without the graceful majesty of the latter. Under what circumstances,
however, or by what science, many of these wonderful fabrics were
reared, history affords no information. Of the rise and the overthrow,
for instance, of the temples at Selinus, we know nothing; some even
doubt whether human power could have overthrown what it had elevated;
and ascribe the regular prostration of the gigantic columns, each
often exactly in a line, extending outwards from its base, as if
overturned but yesterday, to the concussion of an earthquake. These
appearances we have certainly remarked with astonishment, and have
beheld, and measured, and wandered amid the ruins, with admiration not
unmingled with awe; but the truth was obvious, that the same age which
could arrange these masses into symmetry, could also have cast them
down as they now lie. And we know that it was the same age--for one
page, almost one sentence, records both their rise and their fall. Yet
of the energies and knowledge of that age, our own has no conception.
The riches of any one of the sovereigns of Europe, and the skill of his
wisest subjects, would barely suffice for the erection of only one of
the six Selinuntine temples--the works of a distant colony of Greece.
That this may not appear exaggeration, let the reader contemplate
for a moment an edifice--the porticos of which alone would require
one hundred columns of stone, each sixty feet high, and thirty in
circumference--such was the great Temple of Selinus.

The celebrated ruins of Pæstum, consisting of two temples and a
quadrangular portico, containing eighteen columns in flank, and seven
in front, compose the only Grecian Doric remains in Italy. The date and
origin of these structures will probably ever remain liable to doubt.
This arises partly from the singular nature of some of the buildings
themselves, as well as from the obscurity which rests upon this
portion of history in general. The greater of the two temples bears
evident character of the same design and architectural principles as
the Sicilian edifices; between which latter, indeed, as compared with
each other, there exists, in this respect, a very striking uniformity,
pointing to a nearly contemporary erection. Hence the inference seems
clear, that to the same era the Pæstan ruin is to be referred, and that
it is the work of Greek colonists from Sybaris, who, from the middle
of the sixth century B. C., for more than two hundred years enjoyed
peaceable possession of this part of Lucania. This temple, though not
equal in magnitude to some ruins in Sicily, is a very noble, and the
largest pile in a state of such perfection out of Greece. Not a single
column of the outer peristylia is wanting. It was within this 'pillared
range,' during the moonlight of a troubled sky, we experienced emotions
of the awful and sublime, such as impress a testimony, never to be
forgotten, of the power of art over the affections of the mind.

The other ruins, which some consider a temple and a hall of justice,
others, with greater probability, two temples, though, like the former
in situation,

  They stand between the mountain and the sea,
  Awful memorials, but of whom we know not,

are far inferior in dignity of effect and purity of style. Nor are
these defects the consequences of a progressive knowledge advancing to
better things, they are evident corruptions of ancient simplicity. Both
these are to be referred to a period posterior to the Roman conquest of
the city, which occurred in the 481st year of Rome, that is, not three
centuries before our era. Of the same age are the walls, remaining in
considerable entireness, especially the eastern gate, as represented
in the vignette, where the voussoirs, or arch-stones, still span the

Here it may be proper, without going into the particular facts and
reasonings upon which the inference is founded, merely to state, that,
regarding the introduction of the arch into classic architecture, the
weight of evidence is against any knowledge of its use or construction
prior to the era of Alexander. Indeed, the arch is contrary to the
whole genius of the Greek system, which delights in the simplicity of
horizontal and perpendicular lines, to which the contrasts, minute
divisions, and constantly recurring breaks of arched building, are most
directly opposed. During the pure ages of truly Grecian taste, the very
improvements and changes which successively ensued, all tended to guide
invention farthest from the arch. To add elevation to the column, and
to increase the unbroken length of the entablature, were objects most
directly pursued. The greater richness or variety of ornament thus
admitted, was an advantage rather incidental than contemplated, though
with exquisite skill rendered available--

  ----without o'erflowing--full.

Whether the Ionic order of architecture originated merely as a
variation on the 'Dorian mode,' or as a separate invention, it is not
easy, and not of much importance, to determine. The two ideas may be
reconciled; remains of Ionic are found coeval with the earliest certain
accounts of the Doric edifices; so far the former was independent,
and having arisen among the Ionian states, where subsequently it
continued to be employed in preference, it thus obtained a distinct
name and character. Afterwards, however, on being brought into use in
European Greece, architects appear to have studied its capabilities,
chiefly in contrast with the corresponding proprieties of the Doric.
Here something like an encroachment was made on its separate identity;
or rather, the artists of those times contemplated each system as a
modification, in part, of one great whole, bearing a relation only to
the emotions of grandeur and beauty. This is still the proper view
in which the orders are to be regarded in reference to excellence
in architectural composition. Now, indeed, the moderns possess the
advantage of a principle then unknown--the principle of association,
which both limits the field of choice, and increases the beauty of a
just selection.

Of the Ionic order, few remains are extant in Greece or her
colonies--few, we mean, as compared with the amazing structures just
considered. The Temple of Juno, in the Isle of Samos, raised about
the first Olympiad by Ræchus and Theodorus, already noticed as the
founders of the Samian School of Sculpture, supplies the earliest
specimen. This, in the age of Herodotus, was the grandest building in
Greece. How rapidly the order must have improved! Many archaisms, not
to say barbarous inventions, occur. Next in age has been placed the
singular but not ungraceful monument at Agrigentum, called the Tomb of
Theron. Here we discover, indeed, Ionic columns, but everything else is
Doric--proofs, first, of the antiquity of the monument; and secondly,
of the truth of our opinion, more than once hinted in these pages, that
the Dorian colonies in Sicily were original settlements from the East,
little or no intermediate connexion having taken place between them
and the Dorians of the Peloponnesus, who affected to be considered as
the mother country. If pursued to the full extent of its consequences,
this position would go far to explain several doubts, in regard to the
early power and arts of the Sicilian and Lucanian cities. The earliest
example of the true Ionic, is the Temple of Bacchus at Teos, erected,
most probably, soon after the Persian invasion, or not later than fifty
years after, or about 440 B. C. At Athens, however, in the temples of
Minerva, Polias, and Erectheus, is to be found the most perfect remain
of this order, but of what precise date is uncertain,--probably about
the era of the Peloponnesian war. Near Miletus, the Temple of Apollo,
erected by the architects Peonius and Daphnis, brings us down to that
of Minerva at Priene, by Pitheas, in the age of Alexander; after which
no specimens are to be found more ancient than the Roman conquest, with
the exception of some in different parts of Asia Minor, whose dates
cannot be ascertained.

In these two orders, now described, almost every beauty of composition
had been attained, except facility of arrangement, with that extreme
simplicity in which the taste of 'early Greece' seems to have placed
the very perfection of the art. In the Doric, the triglyphs broke in
upon the unity of the entablature viewed in perspective, producing also
complexity in the intervals, or difficulty of managing them. The Ionic,
by removing the divisions of the zoophorus, left the guiding lines of
the horizontal members of the order unbroken, and with greater aptitude
for the introduction of ornament; still the capital deviated from the
simple harmony--the object contemplated by the artist, as it presented
different aspects viewed in front or in flank, and also was not equally
adapted to all situations in the same range. By the invention of the
Corinthian, the beauties of the former orders were combined, while
their defects were also obviated; the removal of the triglyphs left
the arrangement unembarrassed, while the circular capital presented
always the same outline, and adapted itself equally to all positions.
The system of Greek architecture, the most perfect combination of the
necessities of science with forms most pleasing to the eye, that ever
did, or, we may venture to say, will exist, was completed. When this
perfection was attained is doubtful, as we have elsewhere shown;[E]
but the question is of less importance, since it is known that the
Corinthian order was employed by Scopas in the magnificent temple of
Minerva at Tegea, erected between the 94th and 104th Olympiad, or
nearly 400 years before the Christian era.

Of the remaining monuments of this order, few can be ascribed to
the best ages of Grecian taste. It became the favorite style after
Alexander, and especially of the Romans, to whom is to be attributed
by far the greater part of the Corinthian remains now in Greece. The
circular erection of Lysicrates, commonly termed, from the occasion
commemorated, the Choragic Monument, built 342 B. C.; the octagonal
edifice of Andronicus Cyrrhestes, apparently not much later; most
probably the magnificent remains of the temple of the Olympian Jupiter;
and, according to Stuart, another ruin, which he calls the _Poikele
Stoa_, or painted portico, compose the sole remains of the order prior
to the Roman conquest. The first is one of the most exquisite and
perfect gems of architectural taste, and the purest specimen of the
order, that has reached our time, whose minuteness and unobtrusive
beauty have preserved it almost entire amid the ruins of the mightiest
piles of Athenian art. The second is curious in its contrivance to
supply ignorance of the arch. The fourth is of doubtful antiquity; but
of the third, the columns, at least, are of the best age of Greece.
These, composed of the finest white marble, and of the most perfect
workmanship, with an elevation of nearly sixty feet, and belonging
to an edifice four hundred long, awaken emotions of regret, of
magnificence, and of beauty, difficult to comprehend or to impart.

In thus briefly following out the history of the orders, as far as
researches can be authenticated by remaining examples, the narrative
has conducted us to the death of Alexander, A. C. 324, while it has
included the consideration of every essential principle, for the
Greeks never widely deviated from their established modes. The caryatic
supports of the Temples of the Nymph Pandrosos, still almost perfect
at Athens, and the Persian portico said to have been at Sparta, form
the only exceptions to this observation. These, however, were never
imitated--they were suffered as individual fantasies--not allowed as
models. The period just considered, comprehending a space of about 113
years from Pericles to Alexander, was occupied almost exclusively with
the perfecting and application of the Ionic and Corinthian orders. The
art had now attained, in all its modes, the highest character of purity
and magnificence.

For more than two successive centuries, the history of the art would
conduct to consideration of the labours of the Greek princes in the
East, when Asia received back the early information given to Europe.
How vast the interval of obligation! But of all the labours of those
times, great as they must have been, when one alone of the Seleucidan
dynasty founded forty cities, only a few remains in Ionia, with one or
two in Greece, are known, or have been explored. To this period are
doubtless to be referred ruins in the Greek style, said to exist in
Syria and Persia, while, as already noticed, the Romans justly claim
those more commonly visited; but over all these hangs an obscurity
perhaps now impenetrable. Innovations upon the severe purity of ancient
taste were now certainly introduced; still the art had not suffered any
lapse; the essential principles appear to have been fully understood,
and sufficiently respected. This, indeed, is the case, to a degree of
veneration not generally supposed, at least in the remains of Asia
Minor, while now, in complete possession of a new and mighty element
of design--the arch; never before had architecture exhibited so great
capabilities, or powers adequate to the most gigantic works, whether of
use or magnificence.

In this state the art passed into the hands of the Romans, when
universal conquest had left them masters of the world. Thence commences
a new era in the history of architecture, distinguished, however,
rather by new applications than by fresh inventions. The art continued
essentially Greek, for, though to the Etruscans, and subsequently to
the early Romans, an order has been ascribed, no specimen of this
Tuscan capital has come down to our times, and consequently there
exist no means of tracing the narrative or descriptions of Vitruvius.
But by the account even of this native writer, the public buildings
of the regal and consular times were rude enough, exhibiting a state
of the science as already described among the early nations of the
East--vertical supports of stone, with wooden bearers. This continued
to be their style of design and practice, till extending empire brought
the Romans acquainted with the arts of the Dorian settlements on the
east and southern shores of Italy. The situation of the capital,
however, distant from accessible materials, the simplicity--not to say
homeliness of manners--and the constant bent of the national genius
towards foreign conquest, at first denied power to profit by accession
of science, or subsequently diverted attention away from its pleasures
and its advantages. Down to the conquest of Asia and the termination
of the republic, Rome continued a 'city of wood and brick.' Only with
the establishment of the empire and the reign of Augustus, with the
wealth of the world at command, and the skill of Greece to direct the
application, commences the valuable history of architecture among the

This, the last period of Classic Art, comprehends a space of about 350
years, terminating with the transference of the seat of empire by
Constantine, A. D. 306. Of this interval, however, only the smaller
portion must be given to a taste even comparatively pure; for, great
as were its resources, symptoms of the decay of art, continually
increasing, are detected even from the first years of the imperial
government. Without entering minutely into these gradations, the death
of Hadrian, A. D. 138, may be assumed as including both the noblest
erections and the better taste of the empire. That to this date,
the essential characteristics of elegance and purity continued in a
degree untainted, there is evidence in the works of Hadrian at Athens.
Thus, during an interval of not less than 574 years, from Pericles
to the last mentioned emperor, architecture, in this respect more
fortunate than either sculpture or painting, flourished in splendor and
excellence not greatly impaired.

Of all the fine arts--poetry not excepted--architecture is the only one
into which the Roman mind entered with the real enthusiasm of natural
and national feeling. Success corresponded with the exalted sentiment
whence it arose; here have been left for the admiration of future ages,
the most magnificent proofs of original genius. This originality,
however, depends not upon _invention_ so much as upon _application_ of
modes. To the architectonic system, indeed, the Romans claim to have
added two novel elements in their own Doric, or Tuscan, and Composite
orders. But in the restless spirit of innovation which these betray,
the alleged invention discovers a total want of the true feeling and
understanding of the science of Grecian design. In this very desire of
novelty, and in the principles upon which it was pursued, are to be
traced the immediate causes of ruin to the art, while yet its resources
were unimpaired. The Romans unfortunately viewed the constituents
of the Greek orders, and even the orders themselves, as so many
conventional ornaments, which might be changed or superseded on the
laws of association, in the same manner as they were supposed to have
been framed. This it is of importance to mark, for the very same have
been the sources, and are still the operating causes, of inferiority in
modern architecture. But the very opposite of all this is the case. Of
this system, the Greeks, in the course of centuries, had founded what
was conventional upon what is necessary; they had united beauty with
science, by combinations the most pleasing to taste--because of this
very union of effect and principle. Architecture, with them, was thus
not more conventional than is every part of knowledge not immediately
derived from sense--not more, for instance, than geometry; and its
modes, therefore, as constituting one whole, became immutable, being
only conventional, as expressions or representatives of truth.

This harmony, therefore, between the intellectual and the merely
beautiful--the very perfection of the science of taste--the Greeks
sought not by perilous experiments to disturb. Not that among them the
vigor of independent genius was cramped; proper latitude of composition
being allowed, licentiousness of fancy was restrained; each artist
thought, in due subordination to the principles of a system which he
knew to be as unchangeable as the laws that ensured the stability of
his edifice. Hence, in every remain of Greek art, something peculiar is
discoverable--some exquisite adaptation of parts to circumstances--to
proportion--to feeling; but this never obtrudes--never is the general
symmetry, or prevailing character, in the least interrupted. Even the
orders observe the same law of composition. They are but variations of
one grand abstraction of stability and grace, which may be termed the
ideal of architecture. Each varies from another in detail, but the
result is one and the same concord; the proportions in each differ, but
the analogies of proportion are in all cases congenial. Even when, by
addition or absence of parts, there is discriminative form, still the
same final result of purpose or propriety is evident. In all, the same
master lines meet the eye, guide the comprehension over all divisions,
and bind the entire design into one grand harmonious whole. Similar
means and similar harmonies everywhere occur; the same in all is the
last impress on the mind of symmetry and majestic repose--of grace and
dignity--of steadfast tranquillity--of unlaboured elegance--and of rich

The system in this, its perfect wholeness, the Romans never conceived,
and upon this entireness their style first broke. They appear to
have deemed that lightness and grace, here the great objects of
their pursuit, were to be attained not so much by proportion between
the vertical and horizontal, as by comparative slenderness in the
former. Hence, in the very outset, is detected a poverty in the Roman
architecture, even in the midst of profuse ornament, which, as we
advance, continually increases with the practice whence it originated.
The great error was a constant aim to lessen the diameter, while
they increased the elevation, of the columns and supporting members
generally--an error, as remarked by Plutarch, 'to a Greek eye'
perceptible so early as the reign of Domitian. Hence the incongruities
of the Roman orders, which yet are mere plagiarisms from the Greek, and
upon this defective principle.

The massive simplicity and severe grandeur of the ancient Doric,
disappear in the Roman, the characteristics of the order being
frittered down into a multiplicity of minute members. This division is
not only in itself injurious to the simple idea of strength, but the
parts are separately composed in ignorance of the primitive intention.
To their two more refined orders, the Ionic and Corinthian, the Greeks
always added a base, to unite them sweetly and gracefully with the
plinth step, or floor; to the Doric, this accessory was always denied,
that strong contrast might lead the eye at once from the support to
the firm position of the vertical shaft--thus apparently still more
securely planted, as resting immediately on the solid platform of the
building. In opposition to these obvious principles, the Romans used
the Doric always with a base, composed, too, of various members; while
in the capital they erred still more against propriety. The Doric
capital of the Greeks is a masterpiece of composition;--formed of
few and bold, yet graceful parts, it leads by degrees of increasing
strength to the surmounting entablature, which, with its triglyphs
and sculptured metopes, seems to the eye yet more ponderous--ready to
crush the starved and fluttering members, fillet above fillet, which
compose the capital of the Roman pillar. The Corinthian is the only
order which the Romans have employed with almost the undiminished
grace of the original; but even here is distinctly to be traced the
pernicious effects of their system. In the Ionic, they have left
comparatively few examples, while, still following out their principle,
they added to the length of the shaft, and flattened the capital, thus
losing much of the simple yet stately elegance which distinguishes
this order. Their own Composite is in some measure a combination of
the Ionic and the Corinthian, having the volutes of the former and the
foliage of the latter, upon which it is anything but an improvement,
since it contradicts the character, and in a great degree opposes the
advantages, of the primitive. As far, then, as concerns the invention
of forms, and the just conception of the elemental modes of Greece,
the Romans failed. Their architecture was imperfect, both as a system
of symmetry, and as a science founded upon truth and upon taste.

But when their labours are viewed as regards the practice of the art,
their merits are presented under a far different aspect. Whether the
magnitude, the utility, the varied combinations, or the novel and
important evidences of their knowledge, be considered, the Romans, in
their practical works, are yet unrivalled. They here created their own
models, while they have remained examples to their successors. Though
not the inventors of the arch, they, of all the nations of antiquity,
first discovered and boldly applied its powers; nor is there one
dignified principle in its use which they have not elicited. Rivers
are spanned; the sea itself, as at Ancona, is thus enclosed within the
cincture of masonry; nay, streams were heaved into air, and, borne
aloft through entire provinces, poured into the capital their floods
of freshness, and health. The self-balanced dome, extending a marble
firmament over head, the proudest boast of modern skill, has yet its
prototype and its superior in the Pantheon--

  Relic of nobler days and noblest arts!
  Despoil'd, yet perfect, with thy circle spreads
  A holiness appealing to all hearts--
  To art a model.

The same stupendous and enduring character pervaded all the efforts of
Roman art, even in those instances where more ancient principles only
were brought into action. Where the Greeks were forced to call the
operations of nature in aid of the weakness of art, availing themselves
of some hollow mountain side for the erection of places of public
resort, the imperial masters of Rome caused such mountains to be reared
of masonry, within their capital, for the Theatre, Amphitheatre, and
Circus. Of these vast structures, where assembled multitudes might
sit uncrowded, the Colosseum--the mightiest indeed, yet only one of
the labours of the reign in which it was raised--contains more solid
material, brought too from far, and exquisitely wrought, than all
the works of either Louis XIV., or the Czar Peter--the two greatest
builders among the sovereigns of modern times:

                      From its mass,
  Walls, palaces, half cities, have been rear'd;
  Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass,
  And marvel where the spoil could have appear'd.

Palaces--Temples--Baths--Porticos--Arches of Triumph--Commemorative
Pillars--Basilica, or Halls of Justice--Fora, or
Squares--Bridges--without mentioning the astonishing highways,
extending to the extremities of the empire--all were constructed
on the same grand and magnificent plan. The art, in every part of
its practice, partook of the national character of the people. Its
applications were great, substantial, and useful--beautiful in
execution, but this beauty dignified yet more as subservient to
utility. The highest conceivable grandeur seemed but necessary, as
commensurate with the wants and the durability of a dominion which
was to be universal and eternal. Roman art has, in these respects, a
character almost of moral dignity beyond all relics of antiquity. The
records of their dead, though erections of more equivocal usefulness,
partake of the same style, and, like the pyramids of Egyptian kings,
have ceased to be monuments save of their own greatness. Some, and
those but of individuals, or even a woman's grave, as towers of
strength have rolled back the shock of feudal warfare; and the tomb of
an emperor, turned into a palace, or a fortress, still overawes the
city of the Cæsars.

But, alas! the passing briefness of all things sublunary! The spirit's
homage to this mightiness of mind and power, is due only to the labours
of little more than a century and a half. The very greatness of these
edifices proved a source of after corruption, by withdrawing attention
from the delicacies of composition, and by substituting brute mass for
the refinements of science. Even under the Antonines, decline from the
age of Hadrian is perceptible--though more in taste than in practice.
Under Commodus, architecture suffered most decided degradation--another
proof how steadily the arts reflect, not only the mental, but the
moral energies of the times. The downward impulse hurries onwards,
occasionally stayed by the personal virtues or activities of the
reigning prince. Severus has thus left evidence how far his age
had fallen, and yet how superior to those that follow! between his
triumphal arch and that of Titus, how great the difference!--yet, in
point of design, far less than between his and Constantine's. The last
splendours of Roman skill were elicited by the talents of Dioclesian,
and great appear still to have been the practical resources of
architecture--greater than usually admitted. The circular Hall in his
Baths is inferior only to the Pantheon, and awakened the enthusiasm
of Michael Angelo; his Dalmatian Palace was the finest building
undertaken for twelve succeeding centuries. Few of the qualities which
can ennoble the art, as an object of taste, survived this period. The
works of Constantine, not excepting the founding of a capital, prove
how complete was the lapse, since even his zeal could call forth only
attempts to ungraceful and ineffective.


THE history of Architecture still to be considered, extends through
fifteen centuries to the present time. This interval may be divided
into three eras. I. Period of the circular arch. II. Period of the
pointed arch. III. Revival and practice of classic art. The theories so
abounding in this particular portion of the subject, must be reviewed
as in themselves forming part of the information which the reader has
a right to expect; but the notice will be brief, the narrative, it is
hoped, enabling the judgment to deduce its own conclusions from facts,
independently of all opinion. For this reason, the preceding division
is adopted, characterised only by the style of architecture, without
reference to those minute distinctions and disputes about names, the
great sources of obscurity and unsettled hypothesis in treating of the
building of the middle ages. It may be remarked, _in limine_, that the
term, 'Gothic Architecture,' is of late invention, and appears to be
used in two distinct, or indeed opposite meanings. First, to denote the
whole system of architectural erection intervening between the decline
of the ancient classic modes, and their reappearance soon after the
revival of letters. In this sense, it is usually employed as expressive
of something barbarous and unscientific. In the second place, the
phrase is employed by a large school of writers and artists, to denote
a system or systems of art, arising, it is acknowledged, among men of
rude cultivation in other respects, yet claiming original principles
of invention, and very refined rules of practice--so far even as to
be an imitation of natural prototypes of very distant, yet tasteful
associations. Each of these theories exclusively taken, seems to be
disproved by the course of history, when all preconceived notions are
laid aside, and when art, as ought ever to be the case, is fairly made
its own interpreter.

I. It has been shown that the Romans, in obtaining full mastery of a
powerful engine in building--the arch, were at first bold, subsequently
lavish, and, it will appear, finally barbarous, in its application.
From the reigns even of the early Cæsars, a tendency may be traced in
their architecture to become great in mass, but little in parts--to
lessen, in the first instance, the vertical or supporting members;
and in the second, to load the superstructure, or supported parts.
The progress of corruption might be traced, by regular steps, from
vast arches, with groins planted on a single Corinthian column, to the
arcades of the palace of Dioclesian at Spalatro. These still are left,
exhibiting external and internal ranges of arches, springing directly
from the capitals of the columns, without any intervening entablature.
What more, we ask, is wanting here, to one of the most decided
characteristics of one species, at least, of Gothic architecture,
and an elemental principle in all kinds? nothing, save a little less
elegance of workmanship in the supports, a pier substituted for the
column, and the soffit of the arch bevelled instead of being square;
steps successively apparent in posterior remains. Surely, then, it is
carrying theory beyond all moderate limits, to contend for a separate
origin of the system, when the principles of Gothic building are thus
distinctly recognizable in a corruption of classic modes, at an era
while yet vigorous practice prevailed, with resources undiminished for
its support. This corruption, indeed, evidently proceeded, not so much
from inefficiency, as from too eager pursuit of novelty--this too,
unrestrained by the immediate presence of more simple forms; for, in
the baths of the same emperor, appears a less licentious taste. For the
exterior, indeed, such Gothic arcades do not seem to have been soon
imitated; but for the interior, their adoption was almost immediate.
These intermediate steps it is unnecessary farther to pursue at present.

The era of Constantine, though justly regarded as marking the final
disappearance of the last lingering rays of ancient taste, proves yet
a most important epoch in the history of architecture. The reception
of Christianity as the religion of the empire, not only changed to
a very great extent, the entire frame and aspect of society, but
in a particular manner influenced the practical art of building.
As in the heathen temple was traced the great source of perfection
in ancient art, so in the Christian church then established, is to
be found the origin of those modes and forms, which, for so many
centuries, guided modern practice. But the former structure was one
of external magnificence only; internally, it was neither intended,
nor, unaltered, adapted, to accommodate large assemblies. In the new
religion, this became the primary object in its places of worship:
while the early Christians refused to make use of the 'houses of
idols.' In this emergency, there remained only one course--to convert
the most capacious of unobjectionable buildings into churches. Of all
these, the Basilicon presented, not only no difficulties as having
been desecrated, but also was directly accommodated to the necessities
of the case. The ancient Basilicon was a building of great extent,
adjoining the forum or great square, in every city, serving at once the
purposes of an exchange for the transaction of business, of a court
for the administration of justice, and of a place for general resort.
The exterior was adorned with porticoes more or less magnificent,
while internally it was separated lengthwise by two or four ranges
of columns, into three or five longitudinal divisions, according to
its width. Of these, the middle one was the largest, open to the top,
and uncovered; the side ones were smaller, roofed in, with galleries
opening into the centre compartment, and to which access was had by
stairs at the two extremities. Under an arched niche, usually at the
extremity of the central division, was a tribunal for the judge,
exactly in the situation where the Christian altar was afterwards
placed. From the whole description, it is evident, that the only
alteration necessary to convert this edifice into a complete church,
with its nave and lateral aisles, was to place a roof over the middle
portion. Thus the first Christian churches were formed; and hence many
of those in Rome still retain the name of Basilicon. Subsequently, the
transepts were added, to imitate the cross, though this form seems to
have been very early known in the East.

The general form of the church being thus determined, more through
chance than design, yet with great convenience and propriety, this
accidental form was adhered to in the subsequent erections for
sacred purposes; but with certain internal arrangements, modified
by the lessened resources of the art, the prevailing taste, and the
novel exigencies of the case. Instead of the horizontal entablature
resting upon the internal ranges of pillars, as in the more classical
Basilicon, churches were constructed internally of arcades, the arches
resting upon the capitals of the columns. These latter were torn from
more ancient edifices, but combined, and often with considerable
effect, by the ruder efforts of existing art. Thus, with columns for
supports, united with ranges of semicircular arches abutting against
the walls, we soon find the perfect Gothic church established.

This style of building, recommended at once by convenience and
necessity, rapidly spread over the whole of Italy and the Empire, for
Constantinople was erected from pilfered monuments, which, when taken
to pieces and transported thither, were subsequently set up in a most
confused and imperfect manner. When the supporting columns could no
longer be obtained from ancient structures, or where this resource had
never existed, the whole was to be reared from the foundation. Here it
would soon be discovered that a cylindrical, square, or bevelled pier,
without diminution, would be a fitter and more easily erected support
for the arch. From the desire of stability, or the imperfection of
skill, this pier, of whatever form, begins gradually to decrease in
altitude, while it becomes more massive, still with a base and capital
palpable though rude imitations of the same, members of the classic

In this state was the art, when Italy fell under the power of barbarian
conquerors. This style they adopted in their own buildings; for, after
conquest was secure, they patronised the arts of their subjects,
introducing a still greater profusion of ornament, rudely executed,
and in worse design. Yet the whole effect of such works is often not
without grandeur. Beginning with Rome, we might instance, from our own
observation, a continuous series of monuments, of a style such as now
described, still remaining in different parts of Italy, especially the
Gothic capitals of Lombardy, as Ravenna, Verona, Pavia, introducing
the early revival in Pisa and the cities of Tuscany. Such a survey
would unite the labours of Metrodorus, the first Christian architect
under Constantine, with those of Buschetto and Diotisalvi, in the
commencement of the eleventh century, leading to the mention of various
architects of the Gothic kingdom, as Ciriades, of Rome; Aloisius,
of Padua, author of the famous tomb of Theodoric, called the Rotunda
of Ravenna; St Germain, of France; St Avitus, of Clermont; Agricola,
of Chalons; Romnaldus, of France; Tietland, of Germany; with others.
Such an inquiry, however, is not here necessary, inasmuch as it must
now appear obvious, that the style just described might be termed
Gothic, as practised by the mixed race of invaders, who, under the
name of Goths, subdued Italy; but that such a style could not have
been introduced by them from the forests of Germany and the wilds of

From Italy, religion, and consequently ecclesiastical building,
extended over the rest of Europe. In France and Germany, the names
enumerated above, with the works still remaining there, might be
examined in corroboration of the fact, that the circular arch prevailed
at the same time in these countries. But as of most importance,
attention is better limited to British art in the middle age. This
species of building is distinguished, in native antiquities, by the
appellation of Saxon or Norman,--displaying, as characteristics, low,
thick, and rotund pillars, with bases and capitals often fantastically
carved, with heavy semicircular arches, springing directly from the
top, corresponding exactly with the corrupted Roman. Regarding the
propriety of this designation, however, doubts may reasonably be
entertained, since it by no means certainly appears that either the
Saxons or Normans were the introducers.

There is evidence that sacred edifices existed in Britain prior to the
Saxon invasion; and, indeed, when Constantine wrote rescripts to the
various provinces, his own birthplace would not be omitted among those
enjoined to erect and repair churches. It would appear, also, that the
Saxons were attached to wooden erections, as is expressed by the verb
_getymbrian_, to build,--a similar analogy, from the same cause, as in
Greek, where the word _wood_ is used to denote the constituent matter,
or material, of anything--as 'the wood,' meaning the matter, of 'an
argument.' It is probable, then, that the stone buildings of the Saxons
were rather copied from existing edifices among the conquered people,
consequently direct imitations of the parent corruptions of Italy.
This last fact, the only one of real importance in the present case,
is not left to conjecture; for, in the accounts of the earliest stone
structures of the seventh century, it is said they were erected, in the
original phrase, 'more Romanorum,' in the style of the Romans, that is,
the style already described. Between the Saxon, or supposed Saxon, and
Norman, there exists no difference, except in the superior magnificence
of the latter--a circumstance accounted for by the progress of society.

It has thus been established, that the style of building with circular
arches is clearly a corruption from the ancient classic forms. With
little distinctive change, or characteristic difference, this mode was
practised throughout Europe during nine centuries.

II. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, an innovation upon
the long monotony of the circular arch begins to appear and to be
perfected. This was the introduction of the pointed, or lancet Gothic,
to which species the term is more strictly limited. The origin and
progress of the pointed arch, has been rendered one of the most
complicated problems in the history of architecture. The subjects
of discussion here involve two questions--first, Whence and by whom
this style was introduced? secondly, From what prototype the idea was
originally derived?

On the former of these subjects, the various conflicting opinions may
be arranged under two general heads: that the proper Gothic, or pointed
arch, had its origin in the cathedral buildings of England, whence the
knowledge and practice of this style was diffused throughout Europe
during the thirteenth century; or that this architecture is of Oriental
growth, and was brought into Europe by the Crusaders. The author of
the first system we believe was Walpole; but it has since been adopted
by Britton, and a large proportion of the English antiquaries. The
second opinion has been ably maintained by Lord Aberdeen, and is that
more generally adopted in other countries. It is not here possible to
enter into the details of the controversy; the latter view certainly
appears to be supported by the analogy both of history and of the arts.
This, in absence of positive evidence, and with similar buildings
of equal age and character in France, affords far more conclusive
argument than any to be derived from the greater perfection which the
style, comparatively speaking, displays in England, when the extent
of the country and the number of fine buildings are considered. But
individual edifices, especially in Germany, are not only equally
ancient, but more splendid. Our pretensions to exclusive invention,
under circumstances so notorious, that, in Italy, the Gothic is more
frequently styled '_Tedesco_,' or '_German_,' have exposed the national
information in matters of art, to the severe but merited animadversions
of foreign writers. The assumption, however, appears to have little
connexion with national opinion, having arisen among antiquaries whose
almost sole study had been English building, or, at least, who had
viewed the history of Architecture under this peculiar mode alone. In
this respect, extensive research and elegant erudition enabled Lord
Aberdeen to bring to the subject every requisite of decision; and were
we inclined to place faith in any exclusive theory of introduction, it
would be that which his Lordship has so ably advocated, in maintaining
the Eastern origin of the Gothic or pointed arch.

From what exemplar this form was conceived, or by what prototype
suggested, has, in the second place, exercised speculation to a
wide extent. The following are the principal opinions: 1. Theory of
Warburton,--that natural groves supplied the primitive idea, the
trunks, branches, and foliage of the trees being represented in the
pillars, arches, and tracery of the Gothic. 2. The system of Sir James
Hall,--that the whole style, in all its varieties, is but an imitation
of wickerwork,--an opinion frequently, though very improperly,
considered as a modification of the former: it is independent, and
has been very ingeniously followed out in detail. 3. Theory of Sir
Christopher Wren, remarkable at least in its propounder,--that the Free
Masons were the inventors of the pointed arch. 4. Opinions of many
German and Continental writers,--that this arch is but an imitation
of the Egyptian and Indian pyramid. 5. Hypothesis, first incidentally
proposed by Bentham, subsequently methodized and illustrated by Dr
Milner, and pretty generally received,--that the intersection of
semicircular arches forming intermediate pointed ones, gave the
primitive model. This interlacing of arches is a common ornament in
buildings of the old Gothic, already explained; it occurs frequently
in relievo, and, if we recollect rightly, also with disengaged columns
in several of the façades of old churches in Italy. Durham and Lincoln
cathedrals, likewise ecclesiastical remains in Scotland, as Kelso
Abbey, furnish examples. 6. Opinion of Mr Whittaker and others,--that
pointed Architecture was known to, and practised by, the Romans, early
under the imperial government.

Such are the leading theories on this interesting subject; an
examination of the facts would lead to a history of the ecclesiastical
architecture of a great portion of Europe for upwards of three
centuries. In France, the pointed arch was early introduced; but the
light style of Gothic architecture was not generally carried to such
perfection as in Germany and Flanders, having been sooner affected by
the introduction of the Italian taste. The German style was perfected
about the close of the fourteenth century, and subsequently appears to
have undergone little variation, even to the middle of the sixteenth,
thus retaining the elegance of the best age in the art much longer.
Compared with our own, the best examples have much the same character,
with lighter forms and richer tracery,--but of such examples there are
fewer in proportion than with us. In Italy, the pointed arch never
obtained. It is found, indeed, in Venice and Milan, and occasionally
elsewhere; but the style to which it gave birth is not characteristic
of Italy, where the early churches are of the old or circular, and the
more modern of the mixed or Lombard style. In England, four general
periods mark so many changes of Gothic.

1. From 1235 to 1272, including the reigns from the accession of
Stephen to that of Edward I., termed _Early_, _English_, _Simple_,
and _Lancet Gothic_, characterised by long narrow openings, with a
very sharp high arch. Early part of the period shows the gradual
introduction of the pointed style.

2. From 1272 to 1377, to the accession of Richard II. This has been
designated the age of the _Pure Gothic_, or _Decorated English_, being
more highly ornamented than the former, but without exuberance;
especially characterised by an arch which circumscribes an equilateral
triangle, hence proposed to be named, _Triangular Gothic_.

3. From 1377 to 1509, terminating with the accession of Henry VIII.
This constitutes the age of the _Florid Gothic_, which, between these
dates, underwent a succession of changes; first, from aspiring, to
flatly-pointed and obtuse arches, with large daylights, in panels and
straight mullions, instead of tracery; hence the names _Obtuse_ and
_Perpendicular English_; becomes more and more ornamented; ceilings of
the richest and most complicated tracery, with pendents; Henry VII.'s
chapel fine specimen.

4. From 1509 to 1625; when the reign of Charles I. introduces Inigo
Jones, and the revival of ancient architecture. First part of the reign
of Henry the Eighth a continuation of the Florid Gothic; subsequently
the designs of Holbein, and of the Italian artist employed by that
monarch, entirely ruined the Gothic, introducing a most barbarous
mixture of Roman, Italian, and Gothic. In the succeeding reigns, a
stiff and most unmeaning style arose; and, in Scotland, we trace a
near approach, if not in magnitude, at least in excellence, to the
English examples of Gothic; while the fortunes of the art are found
to assimilate to its history in Germany, in as far as a character
of great perfection was early formed, and longer preserved, than in
the south. It must appear a singular proof of hasty and inconclusive
inquiry, that, while an English origin has been claimed for the pointed
arch, its elements are found of a date more ancient in Scottish
ecclesiastical buildings, not to mention those on the Continent.

In opposition to all the preceding theories, we consider the system
of pointed architecture, or that properly denominated Gothic, to
have arisen independently, though almost contemporaneously, among
the nations of Europe most conspicuous for the cultivation of this
peculiar style. In this we are borne out by a series of monuments in
each country, showing the progressive rise and introduction of the
pointed arch, from the form of two long stones, placed on supports,
and meeting at top--a contrivance as still visible in the walls of
Mycenæ, of three thousand years' standing, up to the finished lancet
arch, as in Salisbury cathedral. Or, granting even the Eastern
introduction of the arch--and here the monuments are of very doubtful
antiquity,[F]--what does this prove with regard to the origin of the
system?--Absolutely nothing. This knowledge alone would not go further
to enable the architect to construct a Gothic cathedral, than would one
of the voussoirs in teaching him the properties of the arch itself.
The system is one entire and independent whole, in which the pointed
arch is merely an instrument subservient to principles, in consequence
of which, if not invented, it was at least improved and rendered
perfect. In this light the subject has too seldom been viewed: a light
which places Gothic architecture in true and dignified position of an
independent branch of art, governed by its own precepts of convenience,
stability, and ornament.

When, in consequence of an extraordinary out-breaking of religious
zeal and enthusiasm, an astonishing change was wrought in the frame of
European society, one of the first impulses was to provide, in those
countries hitherto comparatively ignorant of the arts, more suitable
edifices for the services of that religion, in whose cause multitudes
were shedding, or ready to shed, their blood in distant and unknown
regions. Thus the Crusades were, but not as usually supposed, the cause
of the introduction of art. They operated as one of those moral springs
of action by which the arts, as the course of human life, are found to
be directed.

Under such impressions, when the architect contemplated the ancient
structures, the principle of convenience would at once suggest the
necessity of heightening their low arches, and decreasing their
enormous supports, by which light was obstructed, and space filled up.
He saw, however, these efforts could not be accomplished on the old
methods:--here the principle of stability--no abstract theory, but the
knowledge of the practical builder--taught him, that by elevating the
crown of the arch, and thus removing in part the lateral pressure,
both objects would be accomplished; for while height was gained, the
weight would be thrown more into the perpendicular, and consequently
would remain firm with diminished support. The principle once
introduced, was carried even to frightful boldness. But again, though
the lateral pressure was removed from the arcade itself, abutment
was still to be provided at the extremities and side-walls. Hence
the peculiar characteristic of the buttress. This indeed existed in
the old Gothic; but here the feature assumed a novel appearance. The
arches being placed high, required additional altitude to be added,
as a counterbalance, at the opposing point; thus the buttress was
converted into a turret or pinnacle, susceptible of every varied form
which it afterwards received, when the desire of ornament, without the
guidance of taste, wandered into every maze of fantasy. Thus the whole
system depended upon principle--neither rising, like an exhalation,
in consequence of imported knowledge, nor emulating some remote
association or model, but by the slow and gradual process of experience.

The Gothic cathedral, thus contemplated in its native character and
principles--established in unmoved security by the very agency of those
forces which tend most directly to destruction, displays an evidence
of science, perhaps, when the times are considered, the most wonderful
in the whole history of intelligence. Never have the stereometric
precepts of building--one of the most difficult branches of the art,
been better exhibited than in these piles. Mass counteracts mass,--the
very confliction of downward efforts upholds the reed-like column, and
hangs on high the ponderous vault. Self-balanced, the entire system
contains within itself the essence of its own existence in the chain
of means and end, of minute contrivance, and of one purpose. Yet amid
all this no effort is apparent, even while the mind starts at the
power of its own ingenuity over the properties of matter, and the laws
of nature--the artist seems to sport with his subject, to tempt the
prostration of his airy fabrics. Here come into aid the principles of
Gothic ornament, than which nothing pertaining to the style more merits
admiration, whether as enabling the architect to extend the fantasy of
his plans, or still more as essentially producing those effects which
these plans contemplate. In no system of architecture, the Grecian
not even excepted, do the ornamental, so completely integrate and
harmonize with the necessary modes. Ornament could not here be removed
without destruction both of beauty and stability; it strengthens, yet
conceals the necessity of support; and, like the garniture of herbage,
and flower, and twining plant, upon the rugged face of earth, it
spreads to the delighted eye its mazy error, where would else be only a
frightful and unformed mass of nodding masonry.

Such are the merits of Gothic architecture, examined in itself, and
in reference to the times which gave it birth. Apart from these
considerations, viewed as the object of refined perception or
cultivated taste, the entire system is defective. In architecture,
pleasurable emotion arises from a two-fold cause--the modes, and the
associations of the art. In regard to the former, it may be laid down
as an universal precept of taste, that in architecture, of all the
arts, according to the exhibition of principle, and to the facility
with which the mind conceives design, and traces intention, will be
the mental pleasure produced by the work. This constitutes the very
essence of exalted feeling in Greek art, which, grounded upon obvious
principle, consonant with natural appearances, and pursuing beauty as
a final aim, fills the mind with delight and admiration. In Gothic
architecture, all this is reversed: its first principle is, to conceal
all principle; to dazzle and to surprise by effects seemingly at
variance with all the usual harmonies of things. Hence, on entering a
Gothic edifice, though the mind, at first, be strongly affected by the
magnitude and daring arrangement of the forms, where

                ----the tall pile,
  Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads,
  Bearing aloft the arch'd and pond'rous roof,
  By its own weight stands steadfast and immoveable;

yet neither the judgment nor the fancy experiences those continually
increasing emotions of delight which a Grecian building inspires.
Again, the associations connected with Gothic structures are temporary,
and, in great measure, local. They are dependent on our assurance of
antiquity. Remove from such their antique reminiscences, and venerable
traditions, and they are despoiled of all, or good part, of their power
over the imagination. With religious Gothic, our associations are more
congenial; the holiness of the sentiment mingles its permanency even
with the abstract forms; we love the very semblance of the place,

  Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
  The pealing anthem swells the note of praise!

But there can be no doubt that this effect is accidental, not
intrinsic; for decidedly the most impressive interiors in Europe are
those in churches on classic models. To such style we are, indeed,
not accustomed; yet certain it is, the first Christian hymn, when
Christianity had now obtained a temple, rose to heaven from amid the
beauteous majesty of the Grecian orders. Sublime associations, how much
more in unison with the simple grandeur of the reformed service, than
the austerity and superstitious gloom of Gothic erection!

As a system, then, adapted to its own age--as possessing independent,
if not dignified, principles, we consider the pure Gothic, as now
described, as one of the most singular and ingenious modes of
architectonic science. But in its revived and modern application no
useful purpose can be served, whether of good taste or legitimate

III. Having thus considered, at some length, the only original and
distinguishing characteristics of the architecture of the middle age;
the revival of classic forms, as already described, and therefore
offering little of novelty, seems to require here only brief notice.
Indeed, to render a detailed account interesting, would introduce
discussions too lengthened for our limits, on the present state of the
art in the different countries of Europe.

So early as the commencement of the eleventh century, the Italians
began to depart from the ungraceful style of the first period; a
departure which, if not a renovation, was at least an improvement,
in some measure founded upon closer conceptions of ancient art, and
with the Roman orders, though improperly applied. This style, heavy,
highly decorated, but not unimpressive, continued to the close of the
fourteenth century, and has been named the Italian. Its principal
masters were the sculptors already mentioned as belonging to the
period. With the commencement of the fifteenth century, a new and
far higher school arose, which, though far from pure, was yet much
improved; and would have been still more so, had not its patrons been
chiefly painters, too ready to aspire to the bold and peculiar effects
of their own art. Bramante, the first architect of St Peter's, Da
Vinci, Raphael, Julio Romano, and, above all, Michael Angelo, were the
masters of this era. The last mentioned mighty name, here, as in all
the arts, created his own style: robust, even to the abuse of strength;
incorrect, and sometimes barbarous, in detail; in general effect,
always grand and original. In St Peter's, with many defects, and still
greater beauties, he has left a monument of his genius, the most
glorious structure that now adorns the face of the earth, unequalled in
extent as in science.

  Yes, thou, of temples old or altars new,
  Standest alone, with nothing like to thee--
  Worthiest of God, the holy and the true.
  Since Zion's desolation, when that He
  Forsook his former city, what could be
  Of earthly structures, in his honor piled,
  Of a sublimer aspect? Majesty,
  Power, glory, strength, and beauty, there are aisled.

Great as was this school, much was yet wanting to retrieve the golden
purity of ancient art; and this, in the succeeding century, was added
by Palladio, so far at least, as the severe majesty of the primitive
modes could be recovered from a Roman writer, and by the study of Roman
exemplars. Palladio is refined, rather than nervous,--elegant, rather
than grand; but of all the modern masters, he is the most chaste in
design and ornament, prior to more recent knowledge of the fountain
of all excellence--the remains of Greece. His school was numerous, at
least the masters who followed out his principles; which, spreading
over Europe, firmly established the Roman style, banishing a bastard
species of Roman Gothic, by which both systems had been disgraced, and
their characteristic distinctions confounded. Of the Palladian, or
reformed school, Bernini was the last disciple of genius; his circular
colonnade, in front of St Peter's, is worthy of its site. With him, and
the conceits of Borromini, Italian architecture may almost be said to
have ceased. In France, the two Mansards, during the building reign of
Louis XIV., have left heavy imitations of the Michael-Angelesque style;
still, to the artist writers of that country, the art owes much. It
is there more regularly studied than in any other country in Europe;
and in one specimen, the façade of the Louvre, the grandest excellence
has been attained; but the general character of national building is
too fluttering, wanting repose and majesty. From the two schools,
the following ten have been selected, under the name of the modern
masters, because, in their writings or buildings, the best precepts
are obtained. Ranging the names in order of merit, we have Palladio,
Scamozzi, Vignola, Alberti, De Lorme, Serlio, Viola, Cataneo, Boullant,

The graces of the Palladian school were caught by the congenial spirit
of Inigo Jones, in whose labours the English school of classical
architecture took its rise, and, we might almost say, received
its completion. Whitehall and Greenwich will rank among the finest
architecture of Europe--evidences at once of the skill of the artist,
and the taste of Charles I. Sir Christopher Wren, in the succeeding
reign, with the same chaste design, brought to the profession more
general science than his predecessor. His opportunities, from the
consequences of the great fire, were greater than perhaps have
fallen to the lot of any other modern; and, in the erection of the
Metropolitan Cathedral, he proved the capabilities of his genius to be
equal to his good fortune. He has reared the second, and barely second,
edifice in the world. The art has nothing finer than the western
front--so rich, so noble, and, notwithstanding the double arcade, so
pure. On the whole, the exterior of St Paul's is to be preferred,
both for effect and design, to St Peter's. Not so the interior. The
Roman Basilicon opens upon the view with a calm, majestic, expansive
capaciousness; the English cathedral is broken into parts, and
scattered in its entireness.

Jones and Wren have remained the great masters of the English school:
though Vanbrugh hardly deserved Swift's satire--

  Lie heavy on him, earth, for he
  Laid many a heavy load on thee;

while the Earl of Burlington, in spite of Pope, did understand
building. Gibbs, Kent, Hawksmore, left no successors; and during the
reign of George II., English architecture was at its lowest. His late
majesty is reported to have understood, and certainly had a taste for,
the science; but his majesty was scarcely happy in the artist whom
he patronized, Chambers, the architect of Somerset-house, and whose
character may be thus summed up:--he introduced the Chinese style, and
denied that the Parthenon ever existed, or that, if it did, it must
have been a clumsy piece of business. It is unnecessary to pursue the
subject. For the mixed Roman--the modern Gothic--and Oriental styles,
which have since prevailed, we can find no place among the modes of art.

The most recent improvements in the British metropolis are in better
taste than those immediately preceding; but in following the varied
forms of buildings among the Romans, rather than the simpler outline
of the Greeks, though no error has been committed, but perhaps the
contrary, sufficient care has not been employed to place these varied
masses advantageously, both as respects their own grandeur, and their
decorative effect in street architecture.

A more promising aspect, also, of things, invites attention to the
Northern capital. This singularly romantic and beautiful city,
combining the associations of centuries with our admiration of the
living age, and exhibiting in its buildings the rudest and the most
refined exemplars, constitutes a feature in the history of our national
architecture, and, among the cities of Europe, an isolated instance
of undecided mastery between art and nature. The earlier of the new
buildings of the Scottish metropolis, are, generally speaking, in the
Palladian, or Roman style, with the exception of the college. Adams, in
the last, has left a most splendid proof of genius. Viewed, as it ought
to be, in itself, within the quadrangle, it fills the eye with a burst
of splendid magnificence, equal to any effect we have ever experienced
in modern building. Recent structures are in the true Grecian modes,
transcripts from the Theseum and the Parthenon. We rejoice in this; it
is the only source whence renewed vigor can be derived to our fallen
art--for fallen it is at present among us; nor do we perceive, in the
British empire, such decided marks, not of reviving, but of vigorous
taste, as in the Scottish school of architecture. The National Monument
on the Calton, emulates, in gigantic mass, the Athenian structures
themselves; while in the new High School is presented a perfect gem of
art--where the purest Greek modes are combined and adapted with the
happiest originality. The laborious and useful investigations which
have rendered our artists so well acquainted with even the minutest
details of the Greek forms, cannot remain without fruit--provided
architects will be true to the best interests of their profession. Let
it ever be borne in mind, that, magnificent as are the specimens of
Roman skill, we desert the parent source when for these we forsake the
remains of Grecian genius and art.

On reviewing these pages, it scarcely appears, that incidents or
principles of importance have been overlooked, without such notice as
limits permitted. In treating of the Fine Arts, indeed, the subject
of patronage may seem to demand more separate consideration than is
bestowed in occasional remarks. Brief, however, as these are, they
will be found to contain, on this question, the impartial decisions
of history, which uniformly declares the only wise, wholesome, and
inspiring patronage to consist in national sympathy and national regard
for the objects, purposes, and professors of Art. Here the countenance
and protection of government are necessarily included, as affording
the most distinguished assurance of the existence of this feeling, and
as giving direction to the national efforts. In Britain, the genius of
our institutions, and the character of the people require, while they
will add power to, the effects of this union. These institutions are
more national--the opulence and intelligence of the subject, abler to
strengthen the hands and to aid the designs of government, than in any
other empire that ever existed. Our Fine Arts have hitherto been the
only constituent of our national glory to which the cheering influence
of this united sympathy has been denied.



[A] Constable's Miscellany.

[B] The best of these confirm the former remarks on this accomplished

[C] 'I desire, Mr Lely,' said Cromwell, when sitting to the artist,
'that you will paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at
all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything
as you see me; otherwise I will never pay you a farthing.'

[D] In these ruins are two lions sculptured in relievo described by
Pausanius, and remaining the most ancient accredited monument of the
art in Greece.

[E] See Edinburgh Encyclopædia, vol. xviii. part i. p. 21.

[F] Since expressing our opinion, in an early part of the volume, on
the doubtful antiquity of Indian architecture, we have perceived, with
pleasure, that Bishop Heber's observations confirm the inference we had
ventured to draw from the analogies of art.

                  Transcribers Notes:

  Obvious typos were silently corrected.

  Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

  Expressions such as 'epochas' for 'epochs' on P23, have not
  been altered.

  Numbers such as 'twentyninth', have been retained throughout.

  Inconsistant spelling such as - 'developement' and 'development', has
  been retained.

  Gnidian and Gnidos have been replaced with Cnidian and Cnidos,
  P63 and 64.

  In the table of contents chapter XII has been corrected from
  p153 to p154.

  Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

  Italics are shown thus: _sloping_.

  Small capitals have been capitalised.

  [OE] and [oe] have been used as ligatures.

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