Denton Jaques Snider.

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Ambracia in Northern Greece more than five
hundred statues, the largest part of them
made of valuable bronze, all of which, how-
ever, were the gathered plunder of King
Pyrrhus. But the time came Avlien Rome be-
gan to be tinged with Greek culture, and to
appreciate the masterpieces of Greek Art.
In the first century B. C, Sulla, Lucullus
and Pompey made campaigns in portions of
Hellas, won victories, and seized the statues
of the people as precious plunder, which they
sent to Rome. The Roman emperors, espe-
cially three of them, Augustus, Caligula and
Nero, kept up the robbery of Greek master-
pieces to adorn their new buildings at Rome,
where Greek Art was regarded as a hand-
some decoration of Roman power, Caligula


proposed to bring to the world's capital the
statue of all statues, the Phidiaii Zeus at
Olympia, but the plan failed. Delphi, though
repeatedly plundered before, could still yield
five hundred bronze works to Nero's impe-
rial cupidity.

Thus every Greek community saw itself
stripped of the Gods whom it worshiped, and
who would not or could not interfere in favor
of themselves and their people against the
new Fate, as Apollo once did against the
Gaul, and as Athena once did against the
Persian. The belief in the dawn of a ruling-
power mightier than the old Greek God-
world thus becomes stamped upon the Hel-
lenistic consciousness through the bitterest
experiences of life. Already we have noticed
just that agonized expression of itself in its

But on the other hand the Greek Gods
transported to Rome are not without influ-
ence upon the conqueror. There rises a cer-
tain delight in the outer beauty of these
forms, a taste for Art begins to streak the
rugged practical Roman, the city gets to be
full of amateurs who study the masterpieces
and the masters along with their history.
This love of Greek Art at Rome w^as genuine
as far as it went, but never paramount, and
hence uncreative; the Roman's appreciation


had always in it a feeling of condescension,
showing that the victor over the Gods could
even patronize them. This trait lets itself
be felt in Pliny's views of Greek Art, and
turns even to a boast in modest Virgil. But
the city of Rome became one vast gallery of
pictures and statues; public edifices and pri-
vate villas were not complete without a dec-
oration of this sort. Such an Art-museum
never was before or since, indeed it mav
well be deemed the model or creative type of
them all down to this day.

In the Third Period, now considered, Rome
centralized Art as did Athens in the first or
Hellenic Period, to which from this point of
view there is a return, but with a great dif-
ference. Athens created the masterpieces
which drew to her the world ; Rome imported
them by outside force into her borders. Still
under her domination Art became again cen-
tripetal, counteracting the centrifugal char-
acter of the Hellenistic Period, for even rich
and highly cultured Pergamum never con-
centrated the whole of even Anatolian Sculp-
ture. As Rome subjected the many Greek
Citv-States and unified them externallv, so
she subjected the many Greek statues scat-
tered through these City-States, and unified
them externally in her one Museum. In like
manner she may be said to have subjected


the Greek Gods and put tliem into her Pan-
theon, whose temple still exists. Also the
Greek Mytluis she appropriated, being un-
able to create anything of the sort herself,
except a few meager legends of her child-
hood. In this field, however, lies her most
noteworthy artistic achievement: Roman
poets will produce a Literature of persistent
life based almost wholly on Greek Mythology.
The truth is that Rome reverses Greece at
the deepest point of national consciousness.
The tendency of the Greek spirit was to dif-
ferentiate the One into many individuals, in-
dependent and self-sufficing — many States,
many Arts and Philosophies, many Gods,
even if the original One hovered dimly in
the background, as the one Nation, the one
Religion. On the contrary, the tendency of
Roman spirit was toward solidarity and cen-
tralization, even if she professed a superfi-
cial polytheism which, however, she used as
an instrument of her unitary purpose. Thus
the immediate inborn separation of the Greek
consciousness she first subordinated by
might and then organized into her one cen-
tral Cit.y-State. But we are to observe that
just therein she fell into a deeper separation,
a more pervasive inner self-contradiction
which her history will at last bring-
to the surface. She, the City-State, is the


destroyer of the City-State, of her own prin-
ciple, of herself ultimately. The autonomy
which she asserts for herself, she denies to
others and realizes her denial in a universal
subjection. Thus Rome is the opposite and
negative of Greece, the active antitype there-
of; that Hellenic sympathy with the indi-
viduation of the universe into its manifold-
ness runs counter to Rome's innermost bent,
indeed to her place and function in the
AVorld's History.

In some such wav we have to reach down
to Rome's ultimate inability to create an Art
of her own or to reproduce the Art of other
peoples. But it is her genuine call to collect
artistic achievement, to appreciate it ex-
ternally and to decorate herself with it on
the outside. How can the conqueror of the
Gods make them appear in tlieir own right
and supremacy on the banks of the Tiber!
Still their conqueror can gather them by his
power, and herd them in his walls; such Avill
be a fresh manifestation of his highest

II. But not only works of Greek Art, the
Greek artists in person were gathered at
Rome. Naturally they followed whither
there was the greatest demand for their skill.
Some of them might be actual slaves in ac-
cord with the ancient law of captivity in war.


Soon arose a largo trade in copies of tlie
masterpieces. We hear that false antiques
were fabricated and sold to rich but ignorant
people who strove to be in the fashion. Such
factories are reported to be not uncommon
in Europe at present, especially catering to
the American taste and judgment of Art. In-
deed the comparison of old Rome with mod-
ern America in artistic matters becomes
very striking — the same colossal importa-
tion, and so far the same lack of originality,
the same external appropriation of prod-
ucts of a different social and institutional
life. Indeed the question has been often
thrown at us: Is the American, like the
Roman, at bottom incapable of creative self-
expression in Art? For that matter Sculp-
ture and Painting at their highest are past
Arts the world over. Rome had no self-ex-
pression in Sculpture, because Sculpture
could not express Rome in hor distinctive
Self, in her truly world-historical character.
But there was a genuinelj^ original Roman
Architecture, and the same is true, we hold,
of today's American Architecture in its su-
preme manifestation.

Coming back to the Greek artists located
in Rome, we may first look at the works of
two Athenian sculptors whose date is set not
far from the middle of the first century B. C.


The one is the famous torso of the Vatican,
usually called the Belvedere Hercules, which
has called forth such a deluge of literature,
starting with the rhapsodic eulogy of Win-
kelmann, who held the statue to be a trans-
figured Hercules seated on Olympus at the
banquet of Father Zeus. This view hardly
accords with the drooping, unstrung muscles
of the figure, which indicate rather the Greek
hero as worn out with his long labors, quite
incapable of beginning any new task. This
headless and legless giant touches our pity
through the helpless exhaustion of his once
mighty muscles ; he cannot now rise from his
seat, cannot even hold up his own trunk with
its bulky fibres. Apollonios, Nestor's son, of
Athens, is inscribed on the block ; the sculptor
portrayed his city, his country, his own con-
sciousness; what else could he do even at
Rome ? The universal Greek hero is com-
pletely w^orn out, undone, having performed
his last labor. There is a second statue of
Hercules known as the Farnesian, belonging
to the same time in general, and inscribed
with the name of Glycon the Athenian as
artist. The massive form of the hero is now
entire and stands upright; still he cannot
hold himself erect but leans on his club and
lion's skin, former laurels, over which his
arm droops as if quite nerveless and deed-


less. His face is not tense with conflict, but
bends down reflective, even despairfnl, sliow-
inar not onlv weariness but world-weariness.
Again we feel the Greek artist at Rome look-
ing back at the past greatness of his people
and pervaded with the nation's pain of dis-
solution, which he cannot help breathing in-
to his work. Both these copies of Hercules
are probably taken from a famous original
by Lysippus, but charactered with Roman

Other Athenian sculptors were engaged at
Rome in copying the great Avorks of their
forefathers, through which they often ran
a strain of their own time. The books speak
of a Neo-Attic School of Sculpture at Rome*.
The large majority of the statues in the Eu-
ropean museums are these Roman copies of
Greek originals, the latter being exceedingly
rare. Our age has to get back to Greek Art
mainly through this Roman reproduction.
Still some of these copies are of unques-
tioned excellence, and give us types which
we otherwise would not know, for example,
the Zeus Otricoli and Wte Hera Ludovisi. An-
atolian Sculpture was also well represented
at Rome, both by way of plunder and of im-

It should be noted that Sculpture also rep-
resented the decav and debaucherv of Rome.



Fauns, satyrs, sileniises, wild Baccliic scenes,
form no small part of the Roman galleries
today. Then the play of sensuous love, the
Cupids and the Venuses and the divine court-
ships must have been a leading occupation in
old Rome if we judge from the number and
variety of its shapes. In this field likewise
the fine Greek model would take a coarse
Roman streak. zV large department of
Roman Sculpture, perhaps the largest, was
the making of portraits. An emperor would
often have his likeness set up by the hun-
dreds; Nero and Domitian, for instance,
caused their own heads to be put upon the
bodies of the Gods. The main character-
istic of Roman portraiture was its realistic
truth, even if not a few portraits were ideal-
ized after the type of some deity. Sculptural
portraiture also reaches back to Hellas,
which practised it in the best period of its

III. The name of the emperor Hadrian is
the last name of prominence to be mentioned
in the annals of ancient Greek Art, though
this continued to dribble a little long after
liis time. In Hadrian the Roman no longer
seeks to bring Greece to Rome but to turn
Rome back to Greece for a fresh restoration
not only artistic but also political. Hadrian
saw the Roman institutional decadence, and


even tliongiit of removing* the World's Capi-
tal back to some Greek city, a result which
was permanently accomplished two centuries
later by Constantine. Hadrian was an ar-
dent Philhellene, he would tap the primal
Hellenic fountain and make it How afresh to
rejuvenate an aging* decadent world of which
he was the absolute ruler. A Greek idealism
streams through his whole reign, and makes
it the last attempt to restore antique Heatli-
endom in all its glory. Of course such a plan
ran counter to the stream of History,
Christendom had already proclaimed the
new world-view which was to regenerate the
time — another fact which Constantine saw
and realized.

So it comes that Hadrian may be deemed
to have wound up and rounded out classic
antiquity by going* back to its youthful start
in early Hellas and making* it effloresce
through a second cycle of splendors. Under
his generous patronage Sculpture had quite
a revival, as well as the other Fine Arts.
But what could they all bring* forth except
imitations? Where was the folk-soul calling
for its sculptured deities? Really the popu-
lar heart of the age was alreaxly turning* in
a very different direction, which Hadrian did
not appreciate and soon tried to suppress.
The social and institutional order which


evoked divinelv beautiful statues ever afresh
was gone forever, it was a transcended stage
of the World's History which, having once
expressed itself had nothing further to say,
or rather being dead, could not say anything.
To be sure it is recorded that many of our
finest copies of the old masterpieces were
made in the time of Hadrian, and doubtless
through the stimulation of his revival. He
built new temples to the Gods to restore the
old religion; notable was his completion of
the colossal temple of Olympian Zeus at
Athens, in which he set up a costly chrysele-
phantine statue in imitation of that of Athe-
na in the Parthenon. But how different it
must have appeared from the Phidian work
just yonder on the Acropolis! The one was
the forced product of Roman autocracy, the
other was the spontaneous outburst of Greek
communal freedom. But curiously suggest-
ive is the fact that both the first and last
stages of the total round of classical antiq-
uity, come together at Athens in two repre-
sentative edifices whose impressive ruins are
still standing only a few rods apart. Thus
the ends of the cycle ajmost seem to interlink,
after moving through its three great Periods
which make together more than five hundred
years. Such is the last flutter of antique Art
through the fostering care of Pladrian.


There is, however, another somewhat cog-
nate phenomenon which should be noticed as
belonging to the later Roman time. It is the
going l)ack still further to the deities of the
Orient and introducing them into the wor-
ship and art of this Period. Egyptian Gods,
Isis and Osiris, had followers throughout the
Roman Empire. So had the Persian divinity
Mithras, and the Syrian Goddess, so named.
Ancient Sculpture has left statues belonging
to these Oriental cults which had likewise
their transmitted forms. Tlius the turning
back of the Helleno-Roman Period reached
beyond the Greek Pantheon, to the Oriental
Type out of which Greek Art had evolved.
Also the archaic crude shapes of the Greek
Gods were often reproduced along with' the
more evolved beautiful statues of the same
deities. All of which shows the striving for
a new faith and new self-expression in Art,
seeking to tap afresh its primal fountains.

Gradually the Christian Style of Sculp-
ture unfolded in connection with the new re-
ligion and its institution, the Church. The
Classic Style has for its originative concep-
tion the descent of the God into the human
body, which remains the divine manifesta-
tion still in Hellenistic Sculpture, though this
sets forth the Deity fated, with the conse-
quent conflict and suffering. Christianity


lias also tlie descent of the God into the hu-
man body, but in order to transcend it and
rise to spirit. In Greek Art the body is in-
nocent though rent with the fiercest pain
from external destiny; in Christian Art ''the
world, the flesh and the devil" are demonic,
guilty in themselves and hence afflicted with
the penalty of sin. In Christian Sculpture,
therefore, the spirit must ])e shown in disa-
greement with the body, the vehicle of its
manifestation, and hence it calls for another
more adequate vehicle than Sculpture; calls
for a new Art which we shall find to be Paint-
ing. This still employs the human bod}^, but
as annulled in its spatial completeness, as
the mere shadow or ghost of itself. Hellen-
istic Sculpture with its bodily agonies may
be deemed a forerunner or prophecy of
Christian Painting with its tribulations of
the flesh; but the attitude of the spirit to-
wards such suffering is different in each: to
the Greek the bodv was his God's native
home and his own, while to the Christian it
was an alien tabernacle temporarily occu-
i:>ied, and even to be lacerated and crucified
for its inborn depravity. In general, Greek
spirit was naturally harmonious Avitli all in-
dividuation, while Christian spirit looked up-
on it as a passing stage in the process of and
toward God. In its essence accordingly


Cliriistiaii Sculpture bears within itself its
own contradiction, which it manifests in
many medieval statues both of saints and
demons through their grotesqueness. To be
sure it made many church images which are
purely formal, and multitudes of portraits
without any such inner conflict.

Sculpture was the supreme artistic mani-
festation of the Classic w^orld, but could not
be that of the Christian world, where it is
really not at home in its primal creative free-
dom. But after the Middle Ages rose the
third European Style of Sculpture, that of
the so-called Renaissance, which went back
to the Classic fountain for the Art's rejuve-
nescence. Many important works resulted
from this revival of the antique, but it never
could restore the epiphany of the old God-
world, or adequately represent that of the
new one, which had alreadv evolved its own
Art. To this we shall pass.




As already indicated, we classify Painting
primarily with the Somatic Arts, or the Arts
which employ Body, especially the human
framework, as the chief means of their man-
ifestation. Herein it is closely connected
with Sculpture which precedes it, then it is
succeeded bv the Kinetic Arts, which still re-
tain the body, but set it to moving. More-
over the reader should not fail to keep in
mind that Painting is a Sense-Art (Present-
ative), imparting its content to the soul of
man through the sense of sight.

Psvchicallv considered — which is the fun-
damental way of looking at Painting and of
ordering it — this Art is the middle or sec-
ond stage of a higher movement which unites
it with the two stages already mentioned.
Hence its general character is that of separa-
tion ; the body as such it separates and even
annuls in a number of ways hereafter to be
noted, and in its fashion it distinguishes and
divides soul from body. Nature it does not
permit to stand in her own immediate right
but reduces quite to an appearance, to a
shining through of the idea. Herein it con-


trasts sharply with Sculpture, in fact, it sep-
arates what in Sculpture is or ought to be
undissevered, namely the spirit and its mat-
ter, the form and what it informs, the God
and his manifestation. Probe to the bottom,
and you will find this dualism running-
through all Painting, both in its excellence
and in its limitation.

I. The first point to be observed is that
the solid sculptural body is now smitten by
the blow of a new Art (w^e might in a sense
call it the blow of Fate) and shrinks to the
mere non-solid surface, becoming but a
shadow, a ghost of its former corporeal real-
ity. This ghostly phase of the Art hints sig-
nificantly that it still walks the earth as a
spirit disembodied of its once full rotundit\\
The statue, struck by the destiny of all flesh
becomes a picture. So the world of Greek
Gods incorporate we may see vanishing into
a painted dream of a new order.

In other words the solid space-filling mag-
nitudes of Sculpture are transmuted into the
non-solid (or abstract) space-annulling mag-
nitudes — surface, line, and point — of Paint-
ing and of the Graphic Arts generally. Here
the thought possibly gets somewhat abstruse,
for it reaches down to the most remote and
intangible, yet ever-present element of Na-
ture, Space. But we cannot touch the bot-


torn of Painting till we see that it starts with
the limitation, that is, with the negation of
Space, which is Nature's extension or pure
outsideness. The picture not only flattens
Body as Space-filling, hut flattens Space it-
self, through the use of those ideal lines con-
stituting linear perspective, which converge
toward a point. Thus the primal act of
Painting is to negate the immediate external-
ity of Space and of its manifold solid Bodies,
reducing them to a show, a shine, an appear-
ance which manifests something different
from, yea opposite to itself, namely, the in-
ternal, the idea, the spirit. Here we may
note the elemental separation of Painting
from Sculpture.

Still the Art cannot stop with this uega-
tion merely. It must remake both Space and
Body through its own creative act ; the outer
world has to be recreated before it can go
into a picture, which must have its own ideal
Space and Space-filling figurations. The
Painter at his best is not only God-maker,
but also World-maker; he has to put the Cre-
ator into a correspondingly created environ-
ment, which the Sculptor did not and could
not do or only to a very small extent. The
statue and surrounding uature are quite at
one, not so the pictured shape and its scene
of action. The new externalitv is trans-

PAIXTfXfJ. 20o

formed with the new spirit at the center,
Christ is set down in the midst of a Christian
nature, whose Space even is to be Christian-
ized in a primordial act of conversion. All
material things have the tendency to turn in-
to symbols at the pictured presence of the

Thus we behold as the first genetic act of
Painting an annulment of matter and even
of space as outsideness ; the solid body has its
real dimensions, length, breadth, and thick-
ness obliterated, squeezed out of it we may
say, and reduced to mere form, primarily
designated by those ideal magnitudes, sur-
face, line, point. Thus Painting at its pri-
mal birth-leap springs out of the reality of
Nature into the idealitv thereof, from a
world already created to a world re-created
as its own, from an outer to an inner, which
has to be entered bv it for its right self-ex-
pression. It is still an art of the body (So-
matic) but of the body separated from itself
as natural, and transformed into the bearer
of a new soul. Illustrations we may take
from the figures of Christ and the Madonna,
also from Michel Angelo's sybils and

Still this Art cannot wholly dispense with
matter, which it has to employ in order to
make appear what is not of matter. Even


the crayon of the drawing has length,
breadth and thickness in itself; so have the
colors on the pictnre, though their function
is to transcend themselves and to represent
what is beyond length, breadth and thickness.
They are the transparent medium through
which shines the ideal, the divine realm; we
may name them the material conduit to the
vision of what is non-material.

II. This brings us to the next pivotal
thought in the comprehension of Painting —
that of its light. The eye sees the picture as
well as the statue through the medium of na-
ture's sheen: herein Painting and Sculpture
are alike. To be sure the play of luminous
rays upon the white marble God, say upon
the Hermes of Praxiteles, has its diversities
as well as its subtleties of which the artist is
to take account. Light and shade have their
place in the aspect of statuary, whose effect
depends much upon location, position, dis-
tance. But the illumination remains ex-
ternal at best, glancing and dancing over the
crystalline surface. There is no direct inter-
ference with nature's sheen, it is taken as it
is, as sun-given from above, though its na-
tive character or law be subtly watched and

Now in Painting the light is not merely
outside the work of art, but inside; a new


sunshine lias to he created for each picture.
The old huninary stays outside for us still,
but for the masterpiece the sun has to be re-
born inside. Again we observe how Painting
annuls Nature immediately, yet will re-cre-
ate it more gloriousl}^ at- a stroke of genius.
Turner was the new Sun-god, divinely rising
on foggy London, where he was much needed.
More distinctively than old Greek Apollo, for
instance in the Parthenon pediment. Turner
was the modern far-darting creator of a

Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderMusic and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic → online text (page 18 of 32)