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phantoms, furies, real and symbolical figures, all representations relative to the doctrine of the Etruscans, in regard to the state of souls after death.
There is an interesting and faithful description of these Etruscan tombs in a letter written in 1760, by Pacciandi to Count Caylus. In May, 1827, three of these sepulchral grottoes were discovered, the paintings of which were found well preserved. I made all haste there, in spite of obstacles of every kind which were opposed to me: a burning season, an unhealthy climate, an absurd privilege, which strangers have succeeded by false reports in obtaining from the pontifical government. In spite of all these obstacles I was able to penetrate into the grottoes. I passed two days in examining the paintings, in describing the subjects, and in copying the inscriptions. I left them in a state of fever; but I bore away with me a true and faithful image of them, accurate and certain information, with the assistance of which I have been able to communicate to the Academy and to the public the first account of these paintings, the most remarkable in every respect that we have hitherto possessed among those which these Etruscan tombs have preserved to us. These paintings belong to different periods of Etruscan art. In one alone of these grottoes, they bear an impress, a physiognomy peculiarly Etruscan. In the two others they manifestly present the influence of Grecian taste and ideas. The subjects painted in the grotto, which is decorated with the most care, present, in various groups, the different games, wrestling, boxing, races on foot, on horses, on chariots, which were practised in Greece, and which were all celebrated among the Etruscans, principally, as it seems, at the funerals of the rich, for similar representations have been discovered in a tomb at Chiusi. The costumes, the accessories, the vases, the instruments, all were Greek ; the style of the drawing, absolutely similar to that of the Greek vases of ancient manufacture, was marked with firmness, without dryness, and generally correct as well as free. The colours, which still shine in all their brilliancy, in all their first freshness, are not laid on with a brush, but applied in flat layers, on a coating of very fine stucco, with a very brilliant effect in the most beautiful of these grottoes. These colours are white, black, red, yellow, blue, green; thus all the principal colours, from the mixture of which all the others could be formed, whence the inference may be drawn, that at the period,
whatever it may be, but certainly at a very ancient one, when these paintings were executed, the ancients were acquainted with, and had in use, all the elements necessary to attain perfection in the art, and that long before the periods assigned in Pliny, which I have already adverted to, some time since, in former lectures on the painting of the ancients, and which is found to be confirmed by those Etruscan paintings. The little I have said doubtless gives a great interest to these paintings, and if it could be proved, as I supposed at first, and as has been conjectured by a learned German, who addressed the Academy of Munich in regard to these paintings, that they belong to the period which followed immediately the establishment of the Corinthian Demaratus at Tarquinia, and the importation of the Greek arts into Etruria, we should then have one of the principal elements of the history of an art on which we as yet possess but the vague information furnished by Pliny, and only some paintings for decoration belonging, for the most, to a period of decline, to provincial countries, or at least to an inferior branch of the art. In bringing to a close this review of Etruscan art, an idea has struck me which I cannot refrain from communicating: art in this ancient nation presented nearly the same characteristics, and suffered nearly the same vicissitudes, as among the modern Tuscans. I know there has been much abuse made of these kind of parallels, which are for the most part but mere caprices used by writers for ornament. But here, in the comparison of Etruscan art and Tuscan art, there are so many analogies, so many similarities, that this parallel, should it fail in exactness and justness in some points, cannot but appear without some foundation, and at least without some interest in its aggregate. We have seen Etruscan art produced under forms of a meagreness, a dryness, a rigidity, which completely recall those of the old paintings of Simone di Siena, Giunta da Pisa, Cimabue of Florence, when taste began to fluctuate between the traditions of Byzantium, and the first attempts at a return to the imitation of nature.
At a later period, it was still for the dryness and hardness of style that the productions of the Etruscans were remarkable in the most ancient Scarabæi, in the bronzes and in the mirrors, as from Giotto to Dominico Ghirlandajo, to Andrea Verrochio, and even to Masaccio, the predominant character of the Florentine school was always a precision which degenerated into dryness; a care, a finish of details, carried to excess, and
a certain rigidity of style which frequently falls into meagreness. When at length Etruscan art reached its most perfect state, as we see it on some of the most beautiful engraved gems, and on urns of the most finished execution, it exhibits a display of anatomical science, an exaggerated energy of movement, an overcharged rigour of attitudes, a tension of all the muscles, an action of every part, a profound knowledge of the structure of the human body, a careful study of nature, too rarely joined to that choice of forms, to that search after the beautiful, to that sentiment of grace, without which art will ever be wanting in its principal merit, that of pleasing. Now does not Tuscan art display the same characteristics in the works of Michael Angelo, which unquestionably present the most striking, the most complete type, and so to speak, their very ideal? I mean, that science of drawing carried even to ostentation, that austerity which never sacrifices to the graces, those tortured attitudes, those abrupt and bold movements, that expression generally hard and energetic, that predilection for terrible and stern subjects; that haughtiness, that coarseness, that fire of style, all which strikes and astonishes in Michael Angelo, all which gives the idea of a power of hand, of a vigour of extraordinary conception, without ever producing the impression of that beauty which charms, of that sentiment which touches, and of that grace which enchants. Such is in fact the Florentine school, considered in regard to Michael Angelo; such must have been very nearly the school of the ancient Etruscans. And is it not a phenomenon deserving of observation, these coincidences of style and character between people so different, inhabitants of the same country, at periods so remote this transmission of genius, of soul and taste, handed down through ages, under the same sky of Tuscany, from the artist who engraved the gem of Tydeus, or who decorated the tombs of Tarquinia, to the author of Moses and to the painter of the Capella Sistina ?
Geographical glance at the history of Greek Art-Principal Epochs of this history-Sketch of a Homeric Archæology with regard to Art-First Epoch of Greek Art; stones and pillars of wood; formation of the Greek Hermes with a single head, then with a double head-Digression on the Hermaphrodites, derived from this primitive type, and on figures of a double nature-In what way these figures differ in the Egyptian system and in that of Greek Art-The Minotaur the sole exception known to the general principle of these representations, for what reason-Foreign influence exercised in Greek Art, how, at what period, and to what degree-Conclusion.
WE now enter upon the vast and brilliant domain of Greek art, in which every principle, every idea, every monument of the beautiful, the sole true end, and the sole genuine essence of art, are found collected in a system so closely linked in all its parts, so intimately in connection with all the other elements of social organisation, that it is impossible not to consider this art in its noblest idea, in its most extensive application as the exclusive possession, the original creation of Greek genius. Let us at first cast a glance on the historical and geographical situation of Greece, in regard to art, that is to say on the very theatre where art was exercised in its different periods, and in its different schools. The history of Greece presents three grand divisions of this nation, in which art was cultivated with almost equal success, but not precisely at the same periods: Greece properly so called; Asia Minor, with the neighbouring islands; Magna Græcia, or southern Italy, with Sicily, which was dependent on it. It is generally allowed that the birth, or at least the development of art, was earlier and more advanced in the Greek colonies of Asia Minor, and of Italy, than it was in Greece itself. But this opinion is rather based on bold presumption than on authenticated facts. One thing is certain, that accurate information is wanting on the political and moral situation of Greece, during a series of many centuries, from the return of the Heracleidæ, to the first Olympiads, that is, from the eleventh to the seventh century before our æra. During all this space of time, on which we possess only rare, incomplete, and contradictory historic data,
it seems that Greece, inwardly torn by factions, given up to continual changes of domination or government, could not assume a tranquil position nor a determinate form, and consequently art could not strike deep roots nor acquire a regular development, on a soil so agitated, and changeable as it was. One essential fact takes the lead in the entire aggregate of accounts which have come down to us with regard to this historic period, namely, the great number of colonies which issued from Greece at periods very near one another, and which occupied all the coasts of Asia Minor, and those of southern Italy with Sicily, and the islands of the Archipelago. We must infer from this, that Greece was then in a state of continual crisis, and of laborious birth, which did not allow the arts, friends of advancement, but children of peace, to increase and to prosper in the midst of these political convulsions. On the contrary, all these circumstances became favourable to the culture of the arts in these colonies, which, for the most part, established on a new and fertile soil with new and free institutions, carried no factions among them, and found few enemies around them. These were the most frequently entire parties, vanquished in a political crisis, which exiled themselves in a mass; and which thus bore under foreign skies, with the language and manners of their native land, an unanimity of will, of opinions, of principles, which must have. procured for those rising republics a rapid progress. The most frequently also, they came in contact, in the neighbourhood of the places where they went to establish themselves, but with nations feeble in number, inferior in civilisation, and consequently incapable of struggling long with them, and of disputing with them the possession of the soil, and the empire of the sea. For we see the Greek confederate states of Asia Minor—the Æolians, the Dorians, the Ionians, the last especially, Samos, and Miletus at their head, and the republics of Magna Græcia and Sicily, particularly Posidonia, Sybaris, Tarentum, Crotona, Syracuse, Agrigentum, attaining at an early period, and rapidly raising themselves to a high degree of prosperity, embracing a considerable commerce, becoming maritime powers, while Greece itself, torn by intestine factions, wasted her resources on useless agitations. Nevertheless Greece, though exhausted by her colonies and her dissensions, could not remain a total stranger to the movement which took place round her. It was on her soil that