Adolf Theodor Friedrich Michaelis.

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perts to judge the masterpieces of Phidias. Payne
Knight still rated the statues of the pediment no higher
than the frieze, while sculptors (e.g. Flaxman) and painters
valued them above most, if not above all other, antique
works. In consideration of Payne Knight and his dis-
tinguished patrons Haydon had not been called.

Finally, on June the 7th, 1816, the purchase of the entire
collection for £35,000 was confirmed by a sparsely at-
tended Parliament against a feeble protest of the Liberals
(for this had also become a party question). Lord Elgin
had renounced all definite demands. This simi, somewhat
grudgingly conceded, hardly covered his bare expenses,
and if the loss of interest is considered, he was hardly
reimbursed for half his loss. Some apology was offered
for the persecution to which he had been so long exposed
by nominating him as Trustee of the British Museum.
A still greater honour is the indissoluble union of his
name with the " Elgin Marbles."

These treasures were acquired for the British Museum.
This had grown since 1753 from very modest beginnings,
but as a National Museum and not as a Crown Collection,
like nearly all other great collections of antiques. Its
gradual rise is marked by the following acquisitions : an
important collection of painted Greek vases of Southern
Italy formed by the British ambassador at Naples,
William Hamilton (1772) ; the spoils of Egypt in 1801
(p. 17) ; the important Roman collection acquired from
Charles Townley, 1805 ; and finally the Frieze of Bassae
purchased in 1814. The Museum rose now, at once, to



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THE ELGIN MARBLES 43

the rank of foremost importance with the acquisition of
the Elgin Marbles. In consequence of the great value
of these additions, it so far surpassed the Mus6e Na-
poleon, which was akeady being dispersed, and the
Roman miiseums as to relieve it for ever of all fear of
losing this position.

When finally these Athenian sculptures, freed from the
" Curse of Minerva," took their permanent place in the
National Museum, they soon became popular, the frieze in
particular. The cows of the Athenian hecatomb excited
the admiration of English cattle-breeders ; a riding-
master decided to bring his pupils, in preference to giving
them a riding lesson, so that they might contemplate for
an hour these riders, who sat in so masterly a maimer on
their bare-back horses.

Across the Channel also the fame of these treasures
rapidly extended. Quatrem&re de Quincy came in 1818
from Paris, a highly esteemed veteran of archaeology, who
only quite recently had published his learned studies on
Phidias and the chryselephantine art. In his letters to
Canova, the most eloquent testimony of the incipient
change of taste, with him as with Haydon, the conviction
prevails, and is repeatedly expressed, of having received
an entirely new revelation. He compares the statues to
the most famous antiques, and always in favour of the
former. But to him of greater importance still is the
composition as a whole, a unique group of original works
of the highest rank, revealing unity in rich variety. In
some respects he absolutely agrees with Haydon. For he
says : ** The bodies show a thorough knowledge of the
anatomy of the bones such as is nowhere else exhibited.
Firm lightness and genuine strength are thus attained at
the same time. These bodies can move, they seem to be
moving." Moreover, the partly firm, partly soft flesh,
the muscles, now strained, now relaxed, the elastic skin
everywhere adapting itself to them, and that play of



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44 HELLAS REGAINED

countless delicate movements of the surface which,
though inexpressible in words, appeals inmiediately to
the senses, true to every detail and filled with life. " Never
have I seen an3iJiing of its kind so much alive as the
horse's head. It ceases to be sculpture ; the moulii
neighs, the marble lives, one thinks one sees it move-
And the river-god, he looks as if he would rise, he is rising,
and we are surprised that he is still lying there.**

To Quatrem^re the drapery appears equally admirable.
Nothing of that supposed stifeiess or austere severity,
but here again an inexhaustible wealth of imagination
and spontaneous life. The folds cling lightly and deli-
cately to the bodies, or blown by the wind float behind in
mighty curves, or again they envelop the body in huge
folds, forming an endless variety of single rich motives,
**The charm of these draped figmres is as that of the
Graces. It is the despair of those who continually ask for
its cause.** **£ bella perchi i beUa ** is the simple reason,
and the expert will never know more than the lajmian.

Thus the great art critic was influenced by these
originals. The sculptor Dannecker was only able to
judge of them by casts sent by HaydcMi, and wrote as
follows : " For me, it is the highest and greatest I have
ever beheld in art. They are as if modelled on nature,
and yet I have never had the good fortune to see such
nature.**

The Sage of Weimar had to content himself with draw-
ings, but these influenced him so strongly that he ex-
pressed a desire to go to England instead of Italy (for
" there alone were imited law and gospel **). And he
conceived a plan for a society of German sculptors, who
were to make the British Museum their regular place for
study. It was touching to hear an old man of seventy,
in whose mental development Italy had always played so
important a part, call himself " happy to have lived to see
this.**



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INFLUENCE OF THE ELGIN MARBLES 45

Taste became 'completely revolutionized. The land
of the Greeks, which Winckelmann had sought in spirit,
now lay open before the eyes of all who had eyes to see.
Welcker wiote : " The history of art has a new focus, and
has found for ever the correct standard of the main pro-
portions." If the Elgin Marbles had remained in the
Turkish fortress at Athens, would this conclusion have
been reached so soon ? The Gl3q)tothek in Munich,
opened by King Louis in 1830, was the only museum to
compare, even distantly, with the British Museum. For
here also original works of Greek art gave distinction to
the collection. But, inasmuch as the royal collection
retained from the beginning the historical point of view
which continued to influence the arrangements of the
Gl5nptothek, in this respect the Munich collection em-
phasizes even in a greater degree than the British Museum
the motive which should govern the future of all museums:
a visible representation of the development of ancient art.



More precise explorations of the Greek West were now
planned at Athens. These r^ons had in earlier times
exceeded the nwther country in wealth and importance.
The Greek remains of Lower Italy, scattered along an
extensive coastline, had so far, with the exception of
Paestum (p, 9), attracted little interest. At the beginning
of the c«itury the architect William Wilkins — ^whom we
have already seen at Athens— decided to go there, and
published in 1807 his investigations in a great work,
"Antiquities of Magna Graecia." He was followed in
1812 by Cockerell, who had chosen Sicily for his inquiries
(p- 36). Of all Greek countries Sicily is the one richest
in temple ruins. Girgenti, the ancient Akragas, offers
the most striking ones to the beholder, for no less than
seven temples, in very different states of preservation, it
is true, attract the architect. Cockerell began here.



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46 HELLAS REGAINED

The ruins of the enormous Temple of Zeus tempted him
to design a reconstruction. New facts and problems pre-
sented themselves, as in the closed wall with half-columns
instead of the customary open row of columns; the
equally abnormal construction of the cella wall, with its
projecting pilasters and the remains of colossal giants
supporting the entablature, the original position of which
was only determined with great difficulty. In a supple-
mentary volume to a new edition of the " Antiquities of
Athens," in 1830, Cockerell tried to solve some of these
problems.

The ruins of Selinus, the westernmost Greek city on
the south coast of Sicily, are less conspicuous, for the
Carthaginian devastations in 409 had been more thorough.
Notwithstanding this, on two elevations flanking the
former harbour, the remains of at least seven temples have
been found, two of which, usually designated as B and C,
date from very early times — it was at first supposed from
the end of the seventh century. In the winter of 1822-3
the English architects Samuel Angell and William Harris
excavated here, and the latter died of the treacherous
fever. Everything showed an imusual and archaic plan ;
the great length of seventeen columns and a width of
six columns ; toward the east a double cross row of
columns instead of the usual single one ; finally the
Pronaos was without columns, but had a special chamber
behind the cella ; all these had never as yet been found
in Attic or eastern Greek architecttire. Special interest
was evoked by the fragments of the very ancient metopes,
three of which it proved possible to reconstruct out of
32, 45, and 48 fragments respectively (Perseus and Medusa,
Herakles and the Kerkopes, and a Quadriga).

But this heavy archaic sculpture aroused less interest
than the many traces of original colouring, which gave
rise to the question of the painting of sculpttire. This
again led to the question of the painting of architecture.



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THE POLYCHROME IN ARCHITECTURE 47

which at once attracted great attention. This question
was eagerly studied the following winter by the architect
Jacques Ignace Hittorf , bom at Cologne, but now working
in Paris. He travelled to Sicily accompanied by his
pupils Ludwig Zanth and Wilhebn Stier. The coloured
architecture of the Norman remains in Sicily may have
influenced Hittorf, but, be this as it may, he soon came
to the conclusion that all Greek architecttire had been
coloured. This consideration he tried to demonstrate in
his "Architecture antique de la Sicile," 1826-30, and
later in 1851, in an enlarged form in " Architecture poly-
chrome chez les Grecs." (jottfried Semper, who had
travelled in the South in 1830-2, had, in the meantime,
after a careful examination of the ruins, arrived at the
same conclusions, and expressed the view that painting
had completely covered Greek architecture. This was
contrary to earlier traditions, and excited the most ani-
mated discussions. Many observations of Hittorf*s and
Semper's have in fact succumbed to more critical examin-
ations, and the a priori aesthetic claim, that the existence
of colour on some buildings must necessarily imply that
all architecture had^been coloured, has been refuted by
convincing evidence. In historical questions of this
nature, only facts can decide, not theories. But, in
spite of all this, the suggestions of Hittorf and Semper
acted as a great stimulus, and their assertions only re-
quired certain qualifications. Subsequent investigations
have provided these, and to-day it is as certain that Greek
architecture did not lack painting as it is that its use was
limited by material, local custom, and the taste of the
times.

In Sicily later investigations have to be taken into
accoimt, ntiade by Dorpfeld, Borrmann, and their com-
panions (1881), of coloured terra-cotta slabs, which had
covered certain upper parts of the buildings. These
colours, burnt into the terra-cotta, were practically in-



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48 HELLAS REGAINED

destructible, and here the more sombre tints of yellow,
red, and black have been preserved, corresponding
probably to those of the rest of the building, in contrast
to the light blue and red on the glowing marble of the
mcmuments of Attica.

The investigation of Greek buildings in Sicily, begun
by foreigners, was continued most successfully by
natives. The Duke of Serradifalco, supported by the
young architect Saverio Cavallari, proved an enlight^ied
patron of art. Among the new finds of greatest import-
ance were two half and four complete metopes, both of
the temples on the eastern hillside at Selinus. The nude
parts of the female figures of the four metopes of the
Heraeon were of marble, while the rest was worked in tufa
(with various traces of colour), thereby exhibiting an
entirely new technique in coloiured sculpture, nearly re-
lated to the painting of terra-cotta. About the same
time in 1828 the young Duke de Lujmes, with the archi-
tect F. J. Debacq, investigated the ancient remains of
temples at Metapontum, the old Achaean city on the Gulf
of Tarentum, rising out of marshy and fever-breeding
surroundings, " atUicafnera del diavolo.** In reference to
the above question, it may be of interest to mention a
spout of earthenware with an expressive lion's head, on
which the colours are well preserved.

AU these eager researches in the Greek West formed a
most valuable supplement to the investigations in Attica
and the Peloponnese. The architecture of the earlier
periods had become more intelligible ; the Doric style
in particular, which had a parallel development in the
West and the East; many peculiarities were noted on
which at first the student had been inclined to base hasty
generalizations.

The eye had to be trained to appreciate the fact that
Greek art can be many-sided, even in so uniform a creation
as the Doric temple seems to be. It proved wisest not to



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THE APHRODITE OF MELOS 49

construct premature theories or systems which might
obstruct a clear view into the diversity of phenomena,
but to observe facts quietly, and to keep an open eye for
the true historical development.



Greece had meanwhile sunk back into her Turkish
repose. The members of that international circle of
friends to whom we owe the discovery and the harbouring
of the sculptures of iEgina and Bassae had left Athens.
Cockerell and Foster had returned to England, the former
developing extensive professional activity, the latter
living quietly in Liverpool. Stackelberg had been taken
prisoner by pirates in 1813, and was rescued after great
sacrifices by his friend Haller von Hallerstein. Haller
died of fever in Thessaly in 1817. Stackelberg and
Linckh had meanwhile gone to Rome to Uve, and were
joined there by Brondsted. In Greece, the discovery of
the Aphrodite of Melos was the only archaeological event
to interrupt the calm.

This was an instance of an accidental find, the romantic
details of which are still shrouded in darkness. In spite
of an eager search, in all manner of records, it has been
impossible to obtain all the data, and they seem practically
irrecoverable, as important documents have disappeared.
The circumstances are as follows : In one of the early
months of 1820 the peasant Georgios of Melos found the
statue of the Aphrodite in several pieces. Some French
officers inspected the statue, among them the afterwards
famous navigator, Dumont d'Urville ; the French agent at
Brest informed David, the French consul at Sm3^ma, of
the find. He again informed the ambassador at Con-
stantinople, the Marquis de la Rivifire, who offered to buy
the statue of which he had heard so much.

In the meantime a Greek priest had bought the statue
of the Conunune of Melos to present it to an influential



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50 HELLAS REGAINED

personage at Constantinople. He had bought it, but it
had not yet been paid for, when in May, the Secretary of
the French Legation, de Marcellus, appeared at Melos,
ind acquired the statue from the commune for the trifling
sum of 550 to 750 francs, and carried it off at once. The
priest protested at Constantinople, and the commune
was thereupon fined 7000 piastres, but, on the representa-
tions of the ambassador, this sum was reduced. Some
more fragments were collected in Melos in November, and
the entire collection was presented to the King, Louis
XVIII, who handed it over to the Museum of the Louvre.
The statue was put in place there in May, 1821. Prob-
ably with a view to economize the precious Parian marble,
the statue is made in several pieces and joined in the
manner customary in works of later times. The body
is made in two pieces ; strangely enough the joining does
iiot take place where the nude and the drapery meet, but
cuts across the folds of the drapery in an ugly manner.
A separate piece had been inserted in the right hip. The
arms had been fixed on, but only a portion of the left
upper arm and the hand holding an apple had been
found. These are so inferior in workmanship to the
great beauty of the body as to suggest a later restoration.
Below, near the left foot, the plinth shows in its entire
depth a slanting contact surface which, according to the
evidence of the former director of the Louvre, Coimt
Clarac, was joined to a block of marble of slightly different
grain. This had extended imder the slightly raised foot
of the statue, and bore on its face the inscription of the
artist (the three first letters are missing, but can be
restored with certainty), Alexandros of Antioch, on the
Maeander, a city founded in the beginning of the third
century. Judging by the character of the letters the
date of the inscription would fall about 100 B.C. On the
upper surface of the block there is a square dowel-hole,
into which fitted, according to a sketch by an amateur



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THE GREEK INSURRECTION 51

taken in Melos, a youthful herm of mediocre work, which
was transferred to Paris from Melos with the statue.
Unfortunately the important block with the inscription
disappeared early — since Clarac (1821) no one has seea it
— ^a fact which has given rise to the most varied theories,
not yet settled to-day. No serious doubt can be enter-
tained that the statue is the work of Alexandros.
To him is due the addition of the tasteless herm (a
restored copy by the French sculptor Claude Tarral
makes this evident), and of the apple (Greek fifpioy),
an emblem of the island of Melos ; on the other hand we
are indebted to him for the excellent reproduction of the
body and head of a superb original, probably of the time
of Scopas.

The illuminating beauty of the original conception
visible here, and the excellence of the work in the main
parts of the body (the drapery is less well done, and the
back quite unfmished), attained rapidly for the " majestic
woman of Melos " a distinguished position, and secured
it with entire justification. There is hardly another
antique statue, with the exception perhaps of the Hermes
of Olympia, which has acquired so immediate and so
lasting a popularity.

The Greek insmrection had broken out shortly before
the Melian had been placed in the Louvre. Twice was
the Acropolis of Athens bombarded, first in the winter of
1821-^ by Voutier and the Philhellenes, and five years
later by the Turks under Reshid Pasha. The west front
of the Parthenon was greatly damaged by artiUery fire,
and the Erechtheion was shattered by shells and lost
another Caryatid. Since 1825 Ibrahim Pasha had occu-
pied the Morea, until a sudden change was brought about
by the unexpected naval victory of Navarino. In 1828
a French army under Maison entered the country again,
as in Egj^t, accompanied by a scientific staff. The first
map of the peninsula was prepared from an accurate siurvey ,



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52 HELLAS REGAINED

and the natural conditions thoroughly examined, as well
as the relics of art and civilization.

An excavation undertaken at the Temple of Zeus at
Olympia in May and June, 1829, proved specially pro-
ductive of results. The French consul Fauvel had dis-
covered its scanty remains in 1787, and these were again
recognized by the English geographer Leake in 1801.
During a six weeks* campaign the architect Abel Blouet
and the archaeologist J.J. Dubois sought for the back and
front of the temple. Although no traces of pediment
statues were foimd, they came upon some of the Herakles
metopes, above all, the splendid one representing the
hero struggling with the Cretan Bull.

Partly tiie heat and partly the strict orders of the
tyrannical President Kapodistria soon put an end to
these excavations, for a patriotic Greek had informed
against the strangers. The Museum of the Louvre was,
nevertheless, enriched by a few reliefs exhibiting an
entirely new style, and differing from the Attic, iEginetan,
and Selinimtine, testifying to the great diversity of Greek
plastic art. The observations made in Sicily in regard to
the polychromy of Greek sculpture were again confirmed
by the traces of vivid colour still visible on these reliefe.

The new King of free Hellas, the Bavarian Prince Otto,
landed at Nauplia in February, 1833. The Turks at once
evacuated the Athenian Acropolis to make room for a
Bavarian garrison. The fortress was to be abolished on
the citadel, which was to be used only for archaeological
studies. It was, in fact, threatened for a time by artists.
The Bavarian architect, Leo von Klenze, restored some
columns of the Parthenon with wretched patchwork,
and the Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel even
conceived the idea of building a royal palace on Athene's
rock with the Parthenon gracing the royal court. A more
useful work was the clearing away of houses and rubbish
from the Acropolis, and the opening up of the approach



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THE APOLLO OF TENEA 53

to the Propylaea, labours which were executed under the
superintendence of the active scholar Ludwig Ross,
who had been appointed Conservator of Antiquities.
He and his colleagues, the architects Edward Schaubert
and Christian Hansen, succeeded in making a genuine
restoration by rebuilding the small Temple of Athene Nike
on its towerUke eminence above the entrance to the
citadel in 1835 > the blocks had to be picked singly out
of the Turkish bastion erected against Morosini (p. 11).
Many valuable hidden fragments were discovered during
the general clearance, numerous inscriptions on stone of
great value to art and history, and many fragmentary
pieces of sculptiure, of the Parthenon frieze in particular,
among these an exceptionally well-preserved slab of the
group of the gods of the east frieze.

Ross unfortunately felt in 1836 forced to resign his
position, to the great loss of archaeology.

This was transferred to K5niak<5s Pittdkes, an in-
dustrious and faithful worker, but a man lacking in
culture, and a petty guardian of the treasures confided
to his care. He continued clearing the Acropolis, and
piled the sculptures gathered one above another in the
Turkish cisterns ; he rebuilt some of the walls of the
Erechtheion, and restored the Caryatid porch, and below
the Propylaea he constructed a rather clumsy flight of
steps. But, with these exceptions, his interest consisted
only in the pubUcation of newly-found inscriptions.
These epigraphic interests were of paramount importance
to the Archaeological Society, formed in the Parthenon in
April, 1837, stbout the same time as the foimdation of the
University. Almost three decades passed before the
Society imdertook any archaeological work. It was owing
to an accident that the most remarkable discovery of
sculpture occurred in this period, that of the very archaic
so-called Apollo of Tenea. This came soon after into the
possession of the Austrian Minister Prokesch von Osten,



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54 HELLAS REGAINED

who seven years later handed it over to the Glj^tothek
in Munich. In the meantime foreigners again had de-
voted themselves to archaeological work. The English
architect F. C. Penrose, in connection with G. Knowles,
began in 1846-7 to survey the Parthenon and Propylaea
with incomparable accuracy. Penrose's minute measure-
ments created the greatest interest, inasmuch as he con-
firmed the horizontal curves of the steps and entablature
of the Parthenon, which had first been observed by his
countryman J. Pennethome in 1837.

About the same time the French architect A. Paccard
was engaged on a restoration of the Parthenon, which he
intended to be used in connection with a great work
on this temple and its sculpture, undertaken by Count
L6on de Laborde, but unfortunately early abandoned.
The architect J. M. T6taz imdertook similar work in con-
nection with the Erechtheion, without, however, solving
the riddle of this building.

While EngUshmen and Frenchmen were actively en-



Online LibraryAdolf Theodor Friedrich MichaelisA century of archæological discoveries → online text (page 5 of 30)