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LECTURES ON ANCIENT ART.

FIRST LECTURE.

General idea of the Lectures—Examination of the Question, whether Greek

Art has owed its Birth and Development to the Influence of Egyptian Art ? —This Question is solved negatively, after an examination of the genius of these two Arts, and of the Monuments which belong to it-Parallel between the manner in which Art arose and was developed among the Greeks, and the manner in which it flourished again among the ModernsConclusion.

GENTLEMEN,

The history of art among the ancients, considered in its general bearing, I mean to say in its genius and its general development, shall be the subject of our discourse this

year. Questions of deep interest, a great number of important ] monuments shall naturally be brought forward in the course

of these lectures, according as the order of time shall introduce the mention of ancient works of which detailed descriptions or faithful memorials have come down to us. We shall keep out of view in this disquisition, all questions regarding the chronology of ancient artists, questions always controverted and perhaps impossible to solve. It is the genius of art itself, considered in its principal productions, among which we shall search out with care all imitations which have been preserved to the present day, and also considered in its principles, which shall be the special object of our attention.

The rest may occupy or amuse the learned, or exercise the mind, but little certain or useful knowledge results from it. It is the same with those researches which regard the essence of art, the causes which produce, develope, or corrupt it;

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the principles which direct it, the vicissitudes it experiences ; for these are subjects in which the theory and example of the ancients can be a useful and practical lesson to us, or at least an instructive and interesting spectacle.

The first question which shall present itself to our meditations, is to inquire, whether Grecian art arose and was developed under foreign influence, or whether it was indebted alone for its first essays and its ultimate form to its own powers alone, and to its own inspiration ; a question indeed far less important than is generally thought, and which in the manner in which it is generally introduced, presents a subject matter for curiosity rather than any real utility. That in the first ages in which art was as yet but a rude handicraft, in which rude idols, fashioned for the necessities of religion, received the more readily the homage of superstition, inasmuch as they presented scarcely any feature of imitation, the Greeks may have followed and copied the Egyptians, is of little consequence to the history of art. Art commences in reality but where imitation begins; and if the Greeks had never done but what the Egyptians always did, that is, reproduce eternally figures which figures never had any type in the world, no existence in nature, in other words, only constantly repeat objects without reality, it might be sustained with some foundation, that the one had imitated the other; but it can be said with still greater certainty of one and the other, that they never had any art. In thus reducing the question to its genuine terms, we shall say, as long as the Greeks produced nothing but figures devoid of all imitation, it is of little consequence whether they did so through instinct or incapability, as infant nations do everywhere, and as children also in civilised nations do everywhere, or whether they followed a foreign impulse, that of Egypt or any other country. This question, thus stated, is foreign to the history of art, and under this view it is, to speak the truth, of slender interest; but there is something else in this question which may suggest more serious considerations and lead to a more complete solution which I shall now dwell on. If there is a fact well authenticated by the attestation of history, by all the monuments of antiquity, it is this, that art, considering it here only in a technical and natural view, I mean the power of producing images of men more or less resembling men, remained constantly in Egypt at the same point, and that, on the contrary, in Greece, it was

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