History of Ancient Art
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
History of Ancient Art (1764 as Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums) is an art history book on ancient art by German historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann. It was one of the first books written in German to become a classic of European literature.
Winckelmann's masterpiece, the Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums ("The History of Ancient Art Among the Greeks"), published in 1764, was soon recognized as a permanent contribution to European literature. In this work, "Winckelmann's most significant and lasting achievement was to produce a thorough, comprehensive and lucid chronological account of all antique art— including that of the Egyptians and Etruscans." (Haskell and Penny 1981:101.) This was the first work to define in the art of a civilization an organic growth, maturity, and decline. Here, it included the revelatory tale told by a civilization's art and artifacts—these, if we look closely, tell us their own story of cultural factors, such as climate, freedom, and craft. Winckelmann sets forth both the history of Greek art and of Greece. He presents a glowing picture of the political, social, and intellectual conditions which he believed tended to foster creative activity in ancient Greece.
The fundamental idea of Winckelmann's artistic theories are that the end of art is beauty, and that this end can be attained only when individual and characteristic features are strictly subordinated to an artist's general scheme. The true artist, selecting from nature the phenomena suited to his purpose and combining them through the exercise of his imagination, creates an ideal type in which normal proportions are maintained, and particular parts, such as muscles and veins, are not permitted to break the harmony of the general outlines.
Translation by G. Henry Lodge
GROUNDS AND CAUSES OF THE PROGRESS AND SUPERIORITY OF GREEK ART BEYOND THAT OF OTHER NATIONS.
1. Introduction ........ 3
2 — 4. Causes of the Progress and Superiority of Greek Art 3 5 — 8. Influence of Climate in producing the Admirable Con- formation of the Greeks ..... 4
9 — 12. Kind and Joyous Disposition of the Greeks . . 8
13. Constitution and Government of the Greeks. Re
marks on their Freedom . . . . .10
14. Statues, as Rewards for Excellence in Athletic Exer
cises, and for other Merit . . . . .10
15. Veneration for Statues . . . . . .12
16, 17. Gaiety of the Greeks the Source of Festivals and
18 — 22. Influence of Freedom on the Mind .
23 — 27. Respect for Artists ......
28. Application of Art ......
29, 30. Sculpture and Painting attained Maturity at Different Periods .......
31. Causes of the Progress of Painting . 32 — 34. Art practised throughout Greece
23 24 25
THE ESSENTIAL OF ART.
1 — 6. Introduction ........ 27
7. The Essential Point in Art. The Drawing of the
Nude Figure based on Beauty . . . .30
8 — 19. Of Beauty in general. Negative Idea of it . . 30
•20 — 24. Positive Idea of Beauty 41
25 — 27. The Shape of Beauty in Works of Art. Individual
Beauty ........ 45
28—32. And especially of Youth 47
33 — 35. Ideal Beauty formed from Beautiful Parts of Indivi- duals ........ 50
36 — 39. Especially of Eunuchs and Hermaphrodites . . 53 40. Denoted by the Form of Beasts . . . .60
THE CONFORMATION AND BEAUTY OF THE MALE DEITIES
I — 3. Conformation of Youthful Deities
4. Different Stages of Youth in Youthful Male Deities 5 — 7. Satyrs or Fauns. The Young Satyrs 8 — 10. The Older Satyrs or Sileni, together with Pan 11 — 15. The Youth and Conformation of Apollo. Of a Beau tiful Genius in the Villa Borghese 16, 17. The Youth of other Deities. Of Mercury
18. Of Mars
19, 20. Of Hercules
21 — 24. Of Eunuchs in Bacchus .... 25, 26. And, likewise, in the Bearded Bacchus
65 68 68 75
81 86 89 90 93 96
97, 28. The Beauty of Divinities of a Manly Age ; and the Difference between the Human and the Deified
29—35. Of Jupiter, and especially of Serapis and Pluto ; like- wise of Serapis and the Centaurs . . .103
36,37. Of Neptune 112
38. And of the other Sea-Gods 113
39 — 41. Idea of Beauty in the Figures of the Heroes; how it
is and ought to be 115
42,43. The Beverse censured in Figures of Heroes . . 118 44,45. In the Figures of the Saviour 119
THE CONFORMATION AND BEAUTY OF THE FEMALE DEITIES
1,2. Idea of Beauty in Female Divinities 3,4. Of the Goddesses. Of the Superior Goddesses. Of Venus, the Venus de' Medici, and others like her
5. The Look of Venus
6. Venus dressed
8. Pallas .
9. Diana .
12. Hebe .
13. The Inferior Goddesses
14. The Graces .
15. The Hours .
16. The Nymphs
17. The Muses .
18. The Fates .
19. The Furies .
20. The Gorgons 21, 22. The Amazons
23. Beauty of the Portraits of Particular Individuals
24. Ideal Conformation of Animals
122 127 128 128 129 133 134 135 136 136 136 137 138 138 139 140 140 144 148 149
25. Beauty of Female Masks 151
26. Concluding Remarks on the Beauty of Conformation,
generally considered 151
THE EXPRESSION OP BEAUTY IN FEATURES AND ACTION.
1. Of the Expression of Beauty both in Features and
Action . . . . . . . .154
2. The word Expression explained and defined . . 154
3. Principles of Artists in Expression. Stillness and
Repose abstractly . . . . . .155
4. United with Expression of the Passions . . .155
5. Propriety in general . . . . . .156
6. Figures of Female Dancers . . . . .157
7. Expression in Figures of the Divinities. Of Repose
and Stillness . . . . . . .158
8. In Jupiter ........ 159
9. In Apollo 159
10. Posture of Figures. Decorum in Male Figures . 160
1 1 — 15. Expression in Figures taken from the Heroic Age . 162 16,17. In Women of the Heroic Age . . . .166
18. Expression in Persons of Rank . . . .168
19 — 21. Roman Emperors represented on their Monuments
like Citizens . . . . . . .168
22. General Remarks upon the Expression of Violent
23, 24. Of Expression in most Works of Modern Artists
25. Ancient and Modem Artists compared in regard to
Action . . . . . . . .173
26. Supplementary Remarks on the Conceptions of
Beauty in the Works of Modem Artists . .175
27. Opinions of the Unskilled 175
28. Superiority of Modem Painting . . . .177
29. Of Living Sculptors in Rome. Imitation of Antique
1 — 4. Of Proportion generally . . . . .181
5. Opinion of Vitruvius in regard to the Proportion of
Columns . 183
6. Proportion of the Heads of Figures . . . 184
7. Proportions of the Human Figure more accurately
8. Faults in the Proportion of Ancient Figures . . 187 '.1 — 12. Proportion more accurately determined, especially in
regard to the Length of the Foot, in Refutation of
the Erroneous Objections of some Writers . . 189
13. Proportions of the Face determined, for Designers . 191
14 — 16. Of Composition 193
BEAUTY OF INDIVIDUAL PARTS OF THE BODY.
1—3. Of the Beauty of Individual Parts of the Body . 197 4. Of the Head, and especially of the Profile of the
5, 6. The Forehead 199
7 — 9. The Hair on the Forehead generally . . . "201
10. Of Hercules 203
11. Of Alexander the Great 204
13. Refutation of the Name given to a Head cut on a
13. Erroneous Reason of this Appellation . . . 205
14. Similarity of this Head to that of Hercules . . 206
15. A Representation of Hercules with Omphale . . 207
16. Proof of this Supposition from the Dress of the
17, 18. Explanation of a Painting on a Vase of Terra Cotta. 208
19. Of Heads of Hyllus 210
20. The Eyes. The Beauty of their Form generally . 211
21. In Art, of Ideal Heads 212
22. Eyes of Divinities .
23. The Eyelids ....
24. The Eyebrows. Attributes of their
25. Objections to Joined Eyebrows
26. The Mouth .... 27, 28. The Chin ....
29. The Ears generally 30 — 85. Ears of Athletes or Pancratiasts
36. The Hair .... 37, 38. Difference, in respect to the Hair, and Modern Artists .
39. Of the Hair of Satyrs or Fauns
40. Hair of Apollo and Bacchus .
4 1 . Hair of Young Persons .
42. Color of the Hair .
214 215 216 217
220 222 223
230 232 232 232 232
BEAUTY OF THE EXTREMITIES, BREAST, AND ABDOMEN.
DRAWING OF THE FIGURES OF ANIMALS BY GREEK MASTERS.
1. Of the Beauty of the Extremities .... 234
2. Of the Hands 235
3 — 5. Of the Legs, Knees, and Feet .... 236
6. The Breast of Male Figures 238
7, 8. Of Female Figures 239
9. Nipples on the Breast of the Antinoiis, erroneously
so called, in the Belvedere . . . .241
10—12. The Abdomen 241
13 — 17. General Remarks in Reference to this Treatise . 242 18 — 24. Of the Drawing of the Figures of Animals by Greek
BEAUTY OF THE EXTREMITIES, BREAST, AND ABDOMEN. DRAWING OF THE FIGURES OF ANIMALS BY GREEK MASTERS.
1. The beauty of form of the other parts of the figure — the extreme parts, hands, and feet, as well as surfaces — was determined by the ancient artists, in their works, with equal regard to congruity. Plutarch appears to show no more knowledge of art on this point than on any other. He asserts that the attention of the ancient masters was exclusively directed to the face, and that other parts of the figure were not elaborated with similar assiduity. It is not more difficult in morals, where the extreme of virtue borders upon vice, to practise any virtue within its just limits, than it is in art to execute the extremities, by the formation of which the artist displays his knowledge of the beautiful. But time and man's violence have left few beautiful feet, and still fewer beautiful hands, remaining. The hands of the Venus de' Medici a , which have been the occasion of exposing the ignorance of those who, criti- cizing them as antique, pronounced them faulty, are modern. In this respect, the Venus resembles the
a The right arm of the Venus de' Medici, from the shoulder, aud the left from the elbow, are modern. — Germ. Ed.
The hands are by Bernini, and are a disgrace to the statue. — Tr.
HISTORY OF ANCIENT ART, ETC. 235
Apollo Belvedere, whose arms below the elbow are also modern.
2. The beauty of a youthful hand consists in a moderate degree of plumpness, and a scarcely obser- vable depression, resembling a soft shadow, over the articulations of the fingers, where, if the hand is plump, there is a dimple. The fingers taper gently towards their extremities, like finely-shaped columns ; and, in art, the articulations are not expressed. The fore part of the terminating joint is not bent over, nor are the nails very long, though both are common in the works of modern sculptors. Beautiful hands are termed by the poets hands of Pallas, and also hands of Polycletus, because this artist was the first to shape them beau- tifully. Of beautiful hands, still remaining, on youthful male figures b , there is one on that son of Niobe who lies prostrate on the earth, and another on a Mercury embracing Herse, in the garden behind the Farnese palace. Of beautiful female hands there are three —
b Beautiful antique hands are indeed rare, yet not so rare as one might suppose from this passage. The list of well-preserved hands on ancient statues might be considerably enlarged, if any advantage were to be derived from it. Thus, for instance, both hands and several fingers of the Capitoline Venus are really antique. The right hand, an exquisite little hand, of a well-executed statue, in marble, about half the size of life, of Leda, in the Capitoline museum, is perfectly preserved. The same may be said of a Muse in the Pio-Clement museum ; and antique hands in good preserva- tion might be specified from every considerable collection of an- tiques. — Germ. Ed.
c The hands and feet of a young Caesar holding a Parazonium, in the Pio-Clement museum, are ancient, as are also those of the seated child with a goose. In the same museum, among the frag- ments, may be found the right arm, well preserved, and the hand,
236 HISTORY OF ANCIENT ART
one on the Hermaphrodite in the villa Borghese, and two on the figure of Herse mentioned above : the latter furnishes the very rare, indeed the sole, instance in which both hands have been preserved. I am now speaking of statues and figures of the size of life, not of relievi.
3. The most beautiful youthful legs and knees of the male sex are indisputably, in my opinion, those of the Apollo Xavpo/cTovos, in the villa Borghese, an Apollo with a swan at his feet, in the villa Medici, a similar one in the palace Farnese, and a Bacchus in the villa Medici. The beautiful Thetis in the villa Albani, which I shall hereafter describe, has the most beautiful legs d of all the female figures in Rome. The knees of youthful figures are shaped in truthful imitation of the beauty that exists in nature, where they do not show the car- tilages with anatomical distinctness, but are rounded with softness and smoothness, and unmarked by mus- cular movements ; so that the space from the thigh to
of a Pallas ; so, likewise, the feet of the most celebrated statues are antique. Two female hands of natural size and exceeding beauty, of Parian marble, were found some years ago. They are now in the possession of Prince Borghese. In the right hand is a butterfly ; in the left, a flute. Near the place where these hands were disinterred, a small torch was discovered, on which the butterfly had probably rested — to signify the warmth which love imparts to the soul. — F.
d The right leg of the elder son of Laocoon justly holds a place among the most beautiful legs of youthful figures ; for the shape of it is admirable, incomparably pure and elegant. Of aged male figures, the legs of Laocoon himself, and also those of the Borghese Silenus holding the infant Bacchus in his arms, desei've the first rank. General opinion pronounces the legs of the last-mentioned statue to be, unquestionably, the most beautiful of all that remain. — Germ. Ed.
AMONG THE GREEKS. 237
the leg forms a gentle and flowing- elevation, unbroken by depressions or prominences. Whoever has examined the impressions of footsteps on the sand, especially that of the sea-shore, which is firm, will have remarked that the feet of women are more arched in the sole, and those of men more hollowed at the sides.
4. That this imperfect notice of the shape of a youthful knee may not appear superfluous, let the reader turn to the figures of a youthful age, executed by more modern artists. Few of them, I will not say none, but few of them are to be found which show that the natural beauty of this part has been ob- served and imitated. I am now speaking particularly of figures of the male sex ; for, rare as beautiful youth- ful knees are in nature, they are always still more rare in art — both in pictures and statues : insomuch that I cannot adduce any figure by Raphael as a model in this particular, and much less by the Caracci and their followers. Our painters may derive instruction on this point from the beautiful Apollo of Mengs, in the villa Albani.
5. Like the knee, a beautiful foot was more exposed to sight among the ancients than with us. The less it was compressed, the better was its form ; and from the special remarks upon the feet by the ancient philoso- phers, and from the inferences which they presumed might be drawn from them as to the natural inclina- tions, it appears that their shape was the subject of close observation. Hence, in descriptions of beautiful persons, as Polyxena and Aspasia, even their beautiful feet are mentioned, and history 6 notices the ugly feet
e Very many beautiful feet have come down to us ; so that who-
238 HISTORY OF ANCIENT ART
of Domitian. The nails are flatter on the feet of an- tique than of modern statues.
6. Having now considered the beauty of the ex- tremities, I shall next touch upon that of the surfaces, namely, the breast and abdomen. A proudly-arched chest was regarded as a universal attribute of beauty in male figures. The father of poets f describes Nep-
ever attempts to designate the most beautiful may perchance omit others fully as beautiful. Casts of the feet of the Medicean Venus usually serve artists as models of delicate female feet. Among the feet of male figures, those of the Apollo Belvedere, the Capitoline Antinous, the Borghese Silenus, the Laocoon, and the Farnese Hercules, are particularly esteemed. — Germ. Ed.
As Winckelmann has not thought proper to enter more fully into the details of beauty in a foot, I will endeavour to supply the omis- sion. A beautiful foot, both of the male and female figure in youth, is rounded in its form ; and in the female the toes are delicate, and bave dimples over then' first joints, which should be very gently marked. Though the foot of the male figure has greater squareness, it should not show more distinctly its anatomical structure. The second toe is the longest of all, and separated by a distinct interval from the great toe, from which it is turned by a slight inclination outward. The heel should not project, for this is a distinguishing mark of brutes. The sole should be arched, and the instep conse- quently raised ; the reverse is observed in animals. The foot of a European is half the length of the leg, measured to the top of the kneepan ; its breadth, in a straight line across the upper joint of the little toe, is one third of its length. The anterior part of the foot is intended by Xature to be much broader than the heel ; but shoe- makers and fashion have decided that this construction is erroneous. It astonishes me that any mother, who looks with fondness upon her infant's foot in all its natural beauty, with its anterior breadth, and the toes smooth, separate, distinct, can ever submit it to the painful and deforming compression which the tyranny of custom requires, and from which, as yet, escape is almost impossible. — Tr.
f See the graphic description of Agamemnon in Homer (Iliad, lib. 2, vers. 479). — Germ. Ed.
AMONG THE GREEKS. 239
tune 8 with such a chest, and Agamemnon as resembling him ; and such a one Anacreon desired to see in the image of the youth whom he loved.
7. The breast or bosom of female figures is never exuberant ; and Banier is wrongly informed when he says, in his description of the figure of Ceres, that she is represented with large breasts ; he must have mis- taken a modern Ceres for an antique. The form of the breasts in the figures of divinities is virginal in the extreme, since their beauty, generally, was made to consist in the moderateness of their size. A stone, found in the island of Naxos, was smoothly polished, and placed upon them, for the purpose of repressing an undue development. Virginal breasts are likened by the poets to a cluster of unripe grapes. Valerius Flaccus, in the following passage, alludes to their moderate pro- minence in Nymphs by the word obscura : — Crinis ad obscurce decurrens cingula mammce, " Hair falling to the zone of the gently-swelling breast." On some figures of Venus, less than the size of life, the breasts are compressed, and resemble hills whose summits run to a point ; and this form of them appears to have been re- garded as the most beautiful. The Ephesian Diana, which I exclude from the figures of the divinities, is the sole exception to these observations. Her breasts are not only large and full, but are also many in num- ber. In this instance, however, their form is sym- bolical ; beauty was not the object sought. Among
8 The breast was consecrated to Neptune. In the images of him on antique gems, he is represented as far down as the lower ex- tremity of the chest (Descrijit. des Pierres gravees du Cab. de Stosch), which is not so usual with respect to the other gods. — W.
240 HISTORY OF ANCIENT ART
ideal figures, the Amazons alone have large and fully- developed breasts ; even the nipples are visible, because they represent, not virgins, but women \
8. The nipples are not made visible on the breasts either of virgins or goddesses, at least in marble; in paintings also, in accordance with the form of the breasts in the purity and innocence of life, they should not be prominent. Now, as the nipples are fully visible in the figure of a supposed Venus, of the size of life, in an ancient painting in the palace Barberini, I con- clude from this circumstance that it cannot represent a goddess. Some of the greatest modern artists are cen- surable in this respect. Among them is the celebrated Domenichino, who, in a fresco painted on the ceiling of a room in the Costaguti mansion at Rome, has re- presented Truth, struggling to escape from Time, with nipples which could not be larger, more prominent, or pointed, in a woman who had suckled many children. No painter has depictured the virginal form of the
h The author, in this passage, seems to intimate exactly the reverse of what is stated in the first chapter, second paragraph, of this hook. To us the truth appears to lie between the two state- ments. In the Amazons the ancients wished to represent heroines, vigorous women, able to endure the toils of war, and who neither courted nor shunned the joys of love. Such a character requires perfectly-developed forms, without regard to aught else. Accord- ingly, the best images of Amazons do not appear as scarcely-budding maidens, with breasts which are just beginning to swell, but exhibit the fully-matured capacities of youth. On this account, their breasts are neither exuberant, as in women who have borne many children, nor flat, and, as it were, unripe, as in figures of Pallas, Diana, and others, designed as images of a maidenly character that shuns the endearments of love. — Germ. Ed.
AMONG THE GREEKS. 241
breasts better than Andrea del Sarto ; and among other instances is a half figure, crowned with flowers, and also holding some in her hand : it is in the museum of the sculptor Bartolommeo Cavaceppi.
9. I cannot comprehend how the great artist of the Antinoiis, wrongly so termed, in the Belvedere, hap- pened to make a small incised circle about the right nipple, which consequently appears as if inlaid, and as large as the part inclosed within the circle. It was pro- bably done for the purpose of denoting the extent of the glandular portion of the nipple. This singularity is to be found in no other Greek figure ; moreover, no one can possibly consider it a beauty.
10. The abdomen is, in male figures, precisely as it would appear in a man after a sweet sleep, or an easy, healthful digestion — that is, without prominence, and of that kind which physiologists consider as an indica- tion of a long life. The navel is quite deep, especially in female figures, in which it sometimes has the form of a bow, and sometimes that of a small half circle, which is turned partly upward and partly downward. There are few figures in which the execution of this part is more beautiful than on the Venus de' Medici, in whom it is unusually deep and large.
11. Even the private parts have their appropriate beauty. The left testicle is always the larger, as it is in nature ; so, likewise, it has been observed that the sight of the left eye is keener than that of the right. In a few figures of Apollo and Bacchus, the genitals seem to be cut out, so as to leave an excavation in their place, and with a care which removes all idea of wanton mutilation. In the case of Bacchus, the re- ft
242 HISTORY OF ANCIENT ART
moval of these parts may have a secret meaning, inas- much as he was occasionally confounded with Atys, and was emasculated like him. Since, on the other hand, in the homage paid to Bacchus, Apollo also was wor- shipped, the mutilation of the same part in figures of him had precisely the same signification. I leave it to the reader, and to the seeker after Beauty, to turn over coins, and study particularly those parts which the painter was unable to represent to the satisfaction of Anacreon, in the picture of his favorite.
12. All the beauties here described, in the figures of the ancients, are embraced in the immortal works of Antonio Raphael Mengs, first painter to the courts of Spain and Poland, the greatest artist of his own, and probably of the coming age also. He arose, as it were, like a phoenix new born, out of the ashes of the first Raphael, to teach the world what beauty is contained in art, and to reach the highest point of excellence in it to which the genius of man has ever risen. Though Germany might well be proud of the man who enlight- ened the wise in our fathers' days, and scattered among all nations the seeds of universal science 1 , she still lacked the glory of pointing to one of her citizens as a restorer of art, and of seeing him acknowledged and admired, even in Rome, the home of the arts, as the German Raphael.
13. To this inquiry into Beauty I add a few remarks, which may be serviceable to young beginners, and to travellers, in their observation of Greek figures. The first is — Seek not to detect deficiencies and imperfec-
AMONG THE GREEKS. 243
tions in works of art, until you have previously learnt to recognise and discover beauties. This admonition is the fruit of experience, of noticing daily that the beau- tiful has remained unknown to most observers — who can see the shape, but must learn the higher qualities of it from others — because they wish to act the critic, before they have begun to be scholars. It is with them as with schoolboys, all of whom have wit enough to find out their instructors weak point. Vanity will not allow them to pass by, satisfied with a moderate gaze ; their self-complacency wants to be flattered ; hence, they en- deavor to pronounce a judgment. But, as it is easier to assume a negative than an affirmative position, so imperfections are much more easily observed and found than perfections, and it requires less effort and trouble to criticize others than to improve one's self. It is the common practice, on approaching a beautiful statue, to praise its beauty in general terms. This is easy enough. But when the eye has wandered over its parts with an unsteady, rambling look, discovering neither their excellence nor the grounds of it, then it fixes upon faults. Of the Apollo it is observed, that the knee bends inwardly — though this is a fault rather of the way in which a fracture was mended, than of the artist ; of the presumed Antinoiis of the Belvedere, that the legs bow outwardly ; of the Hercules Farnese, that the head, of which mention has been made, is rather small. Herewith, those who wish to be thought more knowing than others, relate that it was found in a well, a mile distant, and the legs ten miles distant, from the body — a fable which is accredited in more than one work ; hence, then, it happens, that the modern restorations
244 HISTORY OF ANCIENT ART
alone are the subject of observation. Of the same cha- racter are the remarks made by the blind guides of travellers at Rome, and by the writers of travels in Italy. Some few, on the other hand, err through un- seasonable caution. They wish, when viewing the works of the ancients, to set aside all opinions previously con- ceived in their favor. They appear to have determined to admire nothing, because they believe admiration to be an expression of ignorance ; and yet Plato says, that admiration is the sentiment of a philosophic mind, and the avenue which leads to philosophy. But they ought to approach the works of Greek art favorably prepos- sessed, rather than otherwise ; for, being fully assured of finding much that is beautiful, they will seek for it, and a portion of it will be made visible to them. Let them renew the search until it is found, for it is there. 14. My second caution is — Be not governed in your opinion by the judgment of the profession, which generally prefers what is difficult to what is beautiful. This piece of advice is not less useful than the fore- going, because inferior artists, who value not the know- ledge, but only the workmanship, displayed, commonly decide in this way. This error in judgment has had a very unfavorable effect upon art itself; and hence it is that, in modern times, the beautiful has been, as it were, banished from it. For by such pedantic, stupid artists — partly because they were incapable of feeling the beautiful, and partly because incapable of repre- senting it — have been introduced the numerous and exaggerated foreshortenings in paintings on plain and vaulted ceilings. This style of painting has become so peculiar to these places, that, if, in a picture executed
AMONG THE GREEKS. 245
on either, all the figures do not appear as if viewed from beneath, it is thought to indicate a want of skill in the artist. In conformity to this corrupted taste, the two oval paintings on the ceiling of the gallery in the villa Albani are preferred to the principal and more central piece, — all three by the same great artist k , — as he himself foresaw whilst engaged upon the work ; and yet, in the foreshortenings, and the arrangement of the drapery after the manner of the modern and the ecclesiastical style, he was willing to cater to the taste of minds of a coarser grade. An amateur will decide precisely in the same way, if he wish to avoid the im- putation of singularity, and escape contradiction. The artist who seeks the approbation of the multitude chooses this style, probably because he believes that there is more skill shown in drilling a net in stone 1 than in producing a figure of correct design.
15. In the third place, the observer should discrimi- nate, as the ancient artists apparently did, between what is essential and what is only accessory in the drawing — partly that he may avoid the expression of an incorrect judgment, in censuring what is not deserving of examination, and partly that his attention may be exclusively directed to the true purpose of the design.
k Antonio Eapbael Mengs.
1 Winkelinann, in this passage, undoubtedly refers to a statue enveloped in a net, in the church of Santa Maria della Pieta, at Naples. The subject is Vice undeceived ; a man is represented struggling in a net, and striving to escape from it. The work is a very remarkable one for the patient industry which it proves, as the net is almost entirely detached, touching the figure itself only in a few points. It was executed by Guccirolo. — Tr.
246 HISTORY OF ANCIENT ART
The slight regard paid by the ancient artists to objects which were seemingly not within their province, is shown, for instance, by the painted vases, on which the chair of a seated figure is indicated simply by a bar placed horizontally, But, though the artist did not trouble himself as to the way in which a figure should be represented sitting, still, in the figure itself, he dis- plays all the skill of an accomplished master. In making this remark, I do not wish to excuse what is actually ordinary, or bad, in the works of the ancients. But if, in any one work, the principal figure is admirably beau- tiful, and the adjunct, or assigned emblem or attribute, is far inferior to it, then I believe we may conclude from this circumstance that the part which is deficient in form and workmanship was regarded as an accessory or Parergon, as it was also termed by artists. For these accessories are not to be viewed in the same light as the episodes of a poem, or the speeches in history, in which the poet and historian have displayed their ut- most skill.
16. It is, therefore, requisite to judge mildly, in cri- ticizing the swan at the feet of the above-mentioned beautiful Apollo in the villa Medici, since it resembles a goose more than a swan. I will not, however, from this instance, establish a rule in regard to all acces- sories, because in so doing I should at the same time contradict the express statements of ancient writers, and the evidence of facts. For the loops of the smallest cords are indicated on the apron of many figures clothed in armour ; indeed, there are feet, on which the stitch- ing between the upper and under soles of the sandal is executed so as to resemble the finest pearls. We
AMONG THE GREEKS. 247
know, moreover, in respect to statues which once ex- isted, that the least details about the Jupiter of Phidias were finished with the utmost nicety ; also how much industry Protogenes lavished upon the partridge in his picture of Ialysus — to say nothing of numerous other works.
17. In the fourth place, if they who have had no opportunity of viewing antique works should see, in drawings and engravings of them, parts of the figures manifestly ill-shaped, let them not find fault with the ancient artists ; they may be assured that such deform- ities are to be attributed either to the engraver, or to the sculptor who repaired them. Occasionally, both are in fault. In making this remark, I have in mind the en- gravings of the statues in the Giustiniani gallery, all of which were repaired by the most unskilful workmen, and those parts which were really antique copied by artists who had no relish for antiquity. Taught by experience like this, I am governed accordingly in my judgment of the bad legs of a beautiful statue of Bacchus leaning upon a young Satyr, which stands in the library of San Marco, at Venice. Although I have not yet seen it, I am convinced that the faulty portion of it is a modern addition.
18. In this section on the essential of Greek art — all that relates to the drawing of the human figure being concluded — I have a few remarks on the repre- sentation of animals to add to those which I have already made in the second chapter of this book. It was not less an object with the ancient Greek artists than with the philosophers, to investigate and under- stand the nature of beasts. Several of the former
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sought to distinguish themselves by their figures of animals : Calamis, for instance, by his horses ; Nicias m by his dogs. The Cow of Myron is, indeed, more famed than any of his other works, and has been cele- brated in song by many poets, whose inscriptions still remain ; a dog, by this same artist, was also famous, as well as a calf by Menaechmus. We find that the ancient artists executed animals after life; and when Pasiteles made a figure of a lion, he had the living animal before his eyes.
19. Figures of lions and horses of uncommon beauty have been preserved ; some are detached, and some in relievo ; others are on coins and engraved gems. The sitting lion, of white marble, larger than life, which once stood on the Piraeus, at Athens, and is now in front of the gate of the arsenal at Venice, is justly reckoned among the superior works of art. The stand- ing lion in the palace Barberini, likewise larger than life, and which was taken from a tomb, exhibits this king of beasts in all his formidable majesty. How beautiful are the drawing and impression of the lions on coins of the city of Velia ! It is asserted, however, even bv those who have seen and examined more than
m (Pliny, lib. 35, cap. 11, § 40.) The dogs of Lysippus are praised by Pliny (lib. 34, cap. 8, § 19); also one painted by Proto- genes (lib. 35, cap. 10, § 30); but Pliny prized above them all a bronze dog, represented licking bis wound, -which formerly stood in the temple of Juno on the Capitoline hill. It was destroyed when the Capitol was burnt, during the popular commotions occasioned by the partisans of Vitellius. This dog was esteemed so highly, that guards were appointed by a public decree to watch it, and their lives were answerable for its safety. (Pliny, lib. 34, cap. 7, § 17.) — Gehm. Ed.
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one specimen of the living lion, that there is a certain ideal character in the ancient figures of this animal, in which they differ from the living reality.
20. In the representation of horses, the ancient artists are not, perhaps, surpassed by the moderns, as Du Bos maintains, on the assumption that the Greek and Italian horses are not so handsome as the English. It is not to be denied, that a better stock has been produced by crossing the mares of England and Naples with the Spanish stallion, and that the breed of the animal in these countries has been very much imj)roved by this means. This is also true of other countries. In some, however, a contrary result has happened. The German horses, which Caesar found very bad, are now very good ; and those of France, which were prized in his time, are at present the worst in all Europe. The ancients were unacquainted with the beautiful breed of Danish horses ; the English, also, were unknown to them. But they had those of Cappadocia and Epirus, the noblest of all races, the Persian, Achaean, Thessa- lian, Sicilian, Etruscan, and Celtic or Spanish. Hippias, in Plato, says, " The finest breeds of horses belong to us." The writer above mentioned also evinces a very superficial judgment, when he seeks to maintain the foregoing assertion by adducing certain defects in the horse of Marcus Aurelius. Now this statue has natu- rally suffered, having been thrown clown and buried in rubbish. As regards the horses on Monte Cavallo, I must plainly contradict him ; the portions which are antique are not faulty.
21. But, even if Grecian art had left us no other
250 HISTORY OF ANCIENT ART
specimens of horses than those just mentioned, we might presume — since a thousand statues on and with horses were made anciently where one is made in mo- dern days — that the ancient artists knew the points of a fine horse as well as the ancient writers and poets did, and that Calamis had as much discernment of the good qualities and beauties of the animal as Horace and Virgil, who describe them. It seems to me, that the two horses on Monte Cavallo, at Rome, and the four of bronze, over the porch of St. Mark's church, at Venice, may be considered beautiful of the kind ; and there cannot exist in nature a head more finely shaped, or more spirited, than that of the horse of Marcus Aurelius. The four horses of bronze, attached to the car which stood on the theatre at Herculaneum, were beautiful, but of a light breed, like the Barbary horses. One en- tire horse has been composed from the fragments of the four, and is to be seen in the court-yard of the royal museum at Portici. Two other bronze horses, of a small size, also in this museum, may be mentioned among its greatest rarities. The first one, with its rider, was found in Herculaneum, May, 1761 ; all four of its legs, however, were wanting, as were also the legs and right arm of the rider. It stands on its original base, which is inlaid with silver. The horse is two Neapolitan palms in length (20£ in. Eng.) ; he is repre- sented on a gallop, and is supported by a ship's rudder. The eyes, a rosette on the frontal, and a head of Medusa on the breastband, are of silver. The reins themselves are of copper. The figure on the horse, which resem- bles Alexander the Great, also has eyes of silver, and
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its cloak is fastened together, over the right shoulder, by a silver hook. The left hand holds the sheath 11 of a sword ; the sword, therefore, must have been in the right hand , which is wanting. The conformation resembles that of Alexander in every respect, and a diadem encircles the head. It is one Roman palm and ten inches (lG^in. Eng.) high, from the pedestal. The second horse was likewise mutilated, and without a rider. Both these horses are of the most beautiful shape, and executed in the best manner. Since then, a horse of similar size, together with an equestrian Ama- zon, has been discovered in Herculaneum. The breast of the horse, which is in the act of springing, rested upon a Hermes. The horses on some Syracusan and other coins are beautifully drawn ; and the artist who placed the first three letters, MI0, of his name under a horse's head on a carnelian of the Stosch museum was confident of his own knowledge, and the approbation of connoisseurs.
22. I will take this occasion to repeat a remark which I have made elsewhere — that the ancient artists were not more agreed as to the action of horses, that is to say, as to the manner and succession in which the legs are lifted, than certain modern writers are, who have touched upon this point. Some maintain that the two legs of the same side are lifted at the same time. This is the gait of the four antique horses at Venice, of the horses of Castor and Pollux, on the Campidoglio,
n The left hand holds the rein. The sword-sheath is suspended beneath the left arm by a belt passing over the right shoulder. — Germ. Ed.
° Which is the ease now. — F.
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and of those of Nonius Balbus and his son, at Portici. Others are positive that their movement is diagonal, or crosswise — that is to say, that they lift the left hind- foot after the right fore-foot ; and this assertion they ground on observation, and the laws of mechanics. In this way are disposed the feet of the horse of Marcus Aurelius, of the four horses attached to the chariot of this emperor in a relievo, and of those which are on the arch of Titus.
23. Besides these, there are in Rome several other animals, executed by Greek artists, in marble and on hard stone. In the villa Negroni is a beautiful tiger p , in basalt, on which is mounted one of the loveliest chil- dren, in marble. A large and beautiful sitting dog q , of marble, was carried a few years ago to England. It
p It is of blackish marble (bigio morato), and partly restored. Two of granite, of not quite full size, are in the Pio-Clement mu- seum. — F.
<• Dallaway (Vol. II., p. 134) says, that the sitting dog which is mentioned as having been carried to England, was sold, a few years previously, by Mr. Jennings to Mr. Duncombe, of Yorkshire, for £1000 sterling. Two similar ones are in the Pio-Clement mu- seum ; one in the palace Chigi ; and two in the gallery at Florence. All of them are well executed. The one which went to England may, however, have been the best. It was repaired by Cavaceppi, who introduced an engraving of it into his Raccolta d'Antiche Statue, but who, unaptly enough, holds it up as a work of Phidias. An ad- mirable group of two greyhounds — called by the ancients Spartan hounds (Aristamet. Epist., lib. 1, epist. 18) — playing with each other, is to be found in the Pio-Clement museum. A repetition of it is in the museum of Lord Townley, of London. Both these groups, together with several other figures of dogs, were found on a hill, uow called Dog-hill, in the vicinity of the ancient city of Lanu- vium. — Germ. En.
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was probably executed by Leucon, who was celebrated for his dogs. The head of the well-known goaf in the palace Giustiniani, which is the most important part of the animal, is modern 9 .
24. I am well aware that, in this treatise on the drawing of the nude figure by Greek artists, the subject is not exhausted. But I believe that I have discovered the right end of the clew, which others can seize, and
r Not only the head, but all the extremities of the celebrated Giustiniani goat are by a modern hand. In size, it is larger than life ; and the antique work is admirable, and of a truly grand character.
A sitting wild-boar, in marble, above the natural size, is in the Florentine gallery. It is one of the principal pieces among the figures of animals now remaining. It could not have been unknown to Winckelmann, however he may have accidentally omitted to no- tice it. A powerful and noble style is manifest in all the forms of this admirable beast. The expression is in a high degree natural and lively. The handling is bold, careful, and worthy of a great master ; and the stiff, harsh character of the bristles cannot be im- proved. In Gori's Museum Florentinum (Vol. III., Plate 69) there is a tolerable engraving of it. In the villa Borghese is an antique repetition of it, somewhat less in size, of gray marble ; it is well exe- cuted. — Germ. Ed.
s In the rich collection of animals in the Pio-Clement museum there is a very beautiful goat, Amalthsea, to the beard of which the hand of a child still remains attached. Also a fallow-buck of natu- ral size and color, of Oriental alabaster ; a sow, of white marble, with twelve pigs under her ; an eagle and a stork, of superior execu- tion ; the head of a rhinoceros, less than the natural size ; a croco- dile, of touchstone, about four palms long. There is, besides, in the Capitoline Museum (Vol. III., p. 162) a crocodile of natural size, of Parian marble. It is, however, to be remarked, that antique figures of animals are, upon the whole, rare. Consequently, a large num ber of counterfeits of all kinds have been prepared and sold by rogues, in modem times, as genuine works. — F.
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safely follow. No place can compare with Rome, in the abundance of its facilities for verifying and applying the observations which I have offered. But it is impos- sible for any one to form a correct opinion in regard to them, or to obtain all the benefit which they are capa- ble of yielding, in a hasty visit. For the impressions first received may not seem to conform to the author's ideas; yet, by oft-repeated observation, they will ap- proximate more and more nearly to them, and confirm the experience of many years, and the mature reflec- tions embodied in this treatise.