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called the Apollo of Tenea, the feet and lower legs are care-
fully and, on the whole, correctly represented. In the statues

1 Tliis I have tried to prove in an article in the Journal of Hellenic Studies,
Vol. XXIII., p. 1^.0.


of half a century later, as in those of the Aegina pediments, or
the so-called Strangford Apollo of the British Museum, we find
a not unsuccessful rendering of all the principal members of
the body ; only some parts of the head are inferior. The eye
and the parts about the eye, in which so much expression re-
sides, baffle the Aeginetan artist; the mouth, which is so fre-
quently in motion, he fails to represent in repose, and the hair,
which is unsuited to representation in a hard substance like
marble, is given in a kind of conventional pattern. It is not
until the middle of the fifth century that these difficulties are
met successfully.

It is especially in the rendering of the head that even an
eye not thoroughly familiar with Greek sculpture and paint-
ing can easily discern the stages by which stiff archaism passes
into perfect mastery. The development is slowest in the case
of eyes and hair, the former the most mobile and expressive
part of the face, the latter the part to which it is hardest to
assign a definite sculptural shape. But before speaking of
eye and hair, the shape of the head and the proportions of the
various parts of the face demand a few words. In the sixth
century it is doubtful whether distinct types of head are in
vogue in the different schools ; at all events, the inquiry whether
or not this is the case is too detailed and complicated to be here
attempted. But there can be little question that Professor
Brunn was right in maintaining that in the work of the fifth
century we can distinguish between Dorian and Attic types.
In archaic art, generally speaking, we may remark a decided
predominance of the lower part of the face, the jaw and chin,
over the upper part. This may be the result of the admiration
of athletic types ; at any rate, it seems appropriate in a nation
in which physical development had the start of mental culti-
vation. In the fifth century something of this predominance
still survives in the Argive school. There the head, of which



Fig. 1G. — Head: Doryphorus.

the Doryphorus offers a good example (Fig. IG), when seen iu
profile, is notably of square outline, with flat top and consider-
able depth from front to back. Again, if the face be divided
into three parts by lines passing through the brows and the
bottom of the nose, these i>arts in the Argive head will be
found to be of nearly equal height. If beside this head we
place one of characteristic Attic type, such as the Hermes of




Praxiteles (Fig. 17), it will be found to be less deep, and
vaulted on the top. And again, taking the three sections of
the face, the upper section will be found to be longer than the
lower. The Argive head has a more powerful framework, but
the Attic is distinctly more intellectual, whether the difference

Fig. 17. — Hermes.

be caused by original diversity of race or by long habit. In
the fourth century Scopas, to judge by the heads from Tegea,
followed the Peloponnesian outline, while the heads of Praxit-
eles are decidedly Attic in type. But both sculptors agreed in
throwing back the eye under a heavy brow and frontal ridge, by
which means the expressiveness of the face is greatly increased.
A good example of the great difficulty which an object con-
fusing to the faculties of observation offered to the early Greek


artist is to be found in the case of the human eye. Every one
who has looked at early vase-paintings will have observed tliat
in them, when a face is drawn in profile, the eye is turned full
to the spectator. The male eye, bold and full, is represented
as circular, the female eye, more modest, is almond-shaped.^


<Q^ /®\ <w:> .^^z^ <S)

<3 <s) <^ €r '^

f g: ^ d k

Fig. 18. — Male and female eye.

It was only by slow efforts, extending over a long period, that
the representation of the eye was mastered. It turns gradually
from the full-face drawing to a rendering in outline. Decade
by decade the drawing of the eye, alike on vases and in reliefs,
changes in the direction of nature, but complete naturalism is
never reached. On the Parthenon frieze, for example, the eyes
of the faces which are in profile preserve something of the old
almond form. Towards the end of the fifth century the form of
the eye itself is more correct, but even then it is set back from the
nose too far, at all events when compared with modern profiles.
It is not, however, merely the difficulty of representing the eye
which makes its treatment in art so backward. We must
revert for a complete understanding to the psychological expla-
nations of Dr. Lowy. It is difficult even now for any of
us to think of an eye in profile, and still more difficult was this
to more primitive peoples. The eye of all things is that which
most essentially looks at one, and so must be drawn looking

1 Fi.fjure 18 in the text is due to Mr. Cecil Smith: see the Cat. Vases in the
Brit. Museum, Vol. III.,i3. 4.


at one. The study of nature by slow degrees corrects this
inveterate habit in art, but only by slow degrees. On vases,
even after the profile eye has been mastered, we find curious
inaccuracy in representing an eye in a figure turned three-
quarters toward the spectator, when it is represented as either
too full or too much in profile.^

The rendering of hair and beard in sculpture must always
be difficult and almost paradoxical. For when we look at these
outgrowths we do not observe definite forms, but rather light
and shade. And to render in such hard materials as marble
and bronze soft and flowing locks made up of multitudes of
hairs seldom quite straight is a task almost beyond human
capacity. Archaic Greek art, like the art of Assyria and Egypt,
took the only course open to it and rendered the strands of
hair as a sort of pattern, by spirals and waves and the like.
(See Figs. 3, 12.) Above the forehead of early statues one
finds rows of curls formed like snail-shells, or like corkscrews,
or arranged in wavy patterns. Long curls, three on each side,
fall over the chest, alike in men and women, and the mane of
long hair behind falls straight and square, only marked with par-
allel waved grooves to show that it is made of separate hairs.

After the Persian wars, the fashion of wearing the hair long
gradually gave way among the men. Yet in the art of the
first half of the fifth century long hair was still usual, even in
the case of athletes ; it was cut short over the forehead, and the
long locks which fell down the back were worked into a plait
which was wound round the head. As contrasted with these
athletes, young gods, such as Apollo and Hermes, still usually
had curls falling from the forehead and long hair flowing over
the shoulders. The hair of women was done up in a variety of
nets and kerchiefs, and was smooth over the brows (Fig. 8).

1 For example, a figure of an Amazon iu Furtwangler and Reichhold,
Grlechische Vasenmalerei, PL 58.


As the representation of face and head became less formal,
and more according to nature, the representation of the hair as
a mere pattern could not of course persist. In the great art of
the fifth century hair and beard were treated as quite subordi-
nate to the face and head, being both alike short and simply
rendered. It was in the fourth century that sculptors began, no
doubt under the influence of portrait-sculpture, to make more
of the hair and beard, discovering how greatly they may be
used to impart character to the face, and how much they may
be worked up from the point of view of style. If any one
studies the portraits of poets, statesmen, and philosophers of
the fourth and following centuries, he will be greatly impressed,
not only by the remarkable beauty and dignity of the Greek
man, but also by the way in which the arrangement of the hair
and the planning of the locks of the beard may be made in the
highest sense artistic and beautiful, as well as thoroughly char-
acteristic of the individual, and of the class to which he be-

sculpture: material, space, and colouring

delations to Material. — The modern sculptor works almost
entirely in clay, and thinks rather of the purpose and destina-
tion of his work than of the material. But in early Greek art
the distinction of the material is important. The sculptor in
marble was also a stone mason, and cut his statue out of the
solid block, as indeed did Michael Angelo. The sculptor in
bronze not only furnished a clay model to the caster, but went
carefully over the result of the fount, repairing flaws, chasing
with a tool, sometimes adding curls, or a wreath, or a sword-
belt, and the like. AVorks in bronze and in terra-cotta are alike
in being formed in moulds, as opposed to marble sculpture. But
between figures in bronze and figures in terra-cotta there is the
strongest contrast of character, the soft clay lacking all the
decisiveness and precision which is appropriate to work in
metal. In making moulds the artist must have had this dis-
tinction always before him. In fact, in regard to sharpness
and clearness of fabric, marble comes halfway between bronze
and terra-cotta.

Down to the middle of the sixth century the history of Greek
sculpture runs in three parallel lines which seldom cross one
another ; each school had its own material or class of materials
to which it commonly confined itself.^

1 A most useful repertory of passages relating to the Greek sculptors is
published by Mr. H. Stuart Jones, Ancient W7Hte}'S on Greek Sculpture, 1895.





\ %

(1) Sculpture in ivood ivith inlays. — The earliest Pelopon-
nesian artists of whom we gain any defiDite knowledge are
Dipoenus and Scyllis (said to be followers of the fabled Dae-
dalus), who settled at Sicyon about 580 b.c. Their pupils car-
ried on the tradition. The material in which they worked was
chiefly wood, ebony or cedar, and — ^ ■ ■■■ '^.

ivory. In this school the custom
naturally arose of using either mar-
ble or else ivory for the nude parts
of the body, and coloured or gilt
wood for the draj^ery, whence came
the idea of the chryselephantine
statue in gold and ivory. As early
as 550 B.C. we find statues in gold
and ivory of Athena and of Themis,
the works of two Spartan sculptors.
The chryselephantine statue was not,
as has sometimes been supposed, a
late and voluptuous refinement of art,
but rather a survival of very early
fabrics. The chest of Kypselus at
Olympia, one of the earliest works
of Greek art of which we have any
knowledge, was of cedar, inlaid with
gold and ivory. It is supposed that
from the ancestral habit of working
in wood were derived the flat surfaces
and square outlines which are characteristic of the marble
works of the Dorian schools of the Peloponnese. Since works
in wood do not survive in the soil of Greece, as they do in the
dryer soil of Egypt, we are obliged to form a notion of the
early xoana, or wooden images, from primitive Pelopounesian
works in stone. The accompanying illustration reproduces a



Fig. 19.

■From Olympia.




small figure in Laconian marble found at Olympia, which,
was one of the three supports of a tripod (Fig. 19). It can
hardly be said, however, that this figure preserves any marked
characteristics of wooden style.

(2) Sculpture in bronze. — The origin of sculpture in bronze is
not easy to trace. In existing remains we can discern the suc-
r ~~' cession of three kinds of fabric.

Down to about 550 b.c. it was the
custom to cast solid in the case of
small figures ; but when large stat-
ues were required, to form them
of plates of bronze hammered into
the desired form and riveted to-
gether with nails. This process
was termed a(f>vprjXaTov. It is com-
mon in the metal vessels of INIy-
cenae. Pausanias tells us of a
bronze statue by Clear chus of Rhe-
giuni thus formed; and a golden
colossus of Zeus of the same fabric
was preserved at Olympia. The
fabric may be studied in a bronze
figure from a tomb at Polledrara,
preserved in the British Museum
(Fig. 20). The second method of
working was casting the parts of
a statue in separate moulds and
then welding or soldering them to-
gether. It may be that this improvement in method was intro-
duced by the Samian artists, Ehoecus and Theodorus, who lived
in the days of Croesus and Polycrates. A fine kylix at Berlin ^

Fig. 20. — Fisjure from Polledrara.

1 Gerhard, Coupes Grecques et Etrusques, PI. XII., repeated iu many-
books and dictionaries.




gives a representation of this kind of work (Fig. 21) : a sculp-
tor's workshop is shown, in which colossal bronze figures are
being built up part by part, and the surface finished with the
file. Later the cire perdue process,^ which is that used by the

Fig. 21.— Kylix at Berlin.

great sculptors of the Kenascence, was introduced into Greece.
In this process the surface modelling is done in wax, which is
an even more delicate and perfect material than clay.

(3) Sculpture in marble or stone.— This kind of sculpture
had from very early times been practised in Babylonia, Egypt,
1 See E. A. Garduer, Handbook of Greek Sculpture, Vol. I., p. 25.


and Asia Minor, and even in Greece, as the lion gate of My-
cenae proves. But Dorians and lonians seem to have redis-
covered it for themselves ; for we can trace, from the beginning
of the sixth century onward, a regular and somewhat rapid
improvement in technique, while in the earliest works the
influence of wood-carving is sometimes to be traced. The first
school to show some promise of the future perfection of Greek
marble sculpture seems to be that of the island of Chios. The
Chian sculptors, the list of whose works shows a marked pref-
erence for the draped female form, worked for their neigh-
bours, and the name of one of them, Archermus, has been
found on a base on the Acropolis of Athens. Not much later
than the bloom of the school of Chios was that of some of the
Dorian schools of Greece proper, which, although bronze was
their usual material, have produced admirable work in marble,
as every one who has studied the Aeginetan pediments knows.
The work of the Dorian schools contrasts with that of the
lonians in that its motive was almost entirely athletic and
military, while that of the lonians was more decorative and
soft. This contrast of the characters of the two stems, of
which the Dorian may be regarded as the male, and the Ionian
as the female, element, runs through the whole history of
Greek sculpture, the balance swaying in some schools in the
one, in others in the opposite, direction. It is impossible here
to trace even the main outlines of the history of Greek sculp-
ture, which is set forth in the professed histories of the sub-
ject most briefly and clearly in Professor E. A. Gardner's
Handbook of Greek Sculpture.

Decorative and Substantive Art. — There is a radical distinc-
tion wdiich exists between decorative art, which is subordinate
to the general effect of the object decorated, temple or tomb,



utensil or vase, and art which is not decorative. The latter
is often termed imitative, but it need not be imitative : a
statue of a Centaur, for example, cannot strictly be called
imitative. It would be better to speak of substantive as
opposed to decorative works of art. Of the actual remains of
Greek art which have come down to us, nearly the whole is deco-
rative. The greatest statues of Greece have wholly perished,
and of the lesser works of great masters only a few survive ;
nearly all are represented in our museums, if at all, only by
Koman copies. On the other hand, the decorative sculpture
of temples and tombs has survived in considerable quantities.
In the same way, no great Greek painting is extant. Of the
painting of the great age we have very few small frag-
ments, while the decorative designs of vases survive in
abundance. Pompeian and Roman mural paintings of the
beginning of the Christian era are abundant, and a few of
these may be considered works of competent artists ; but the
mass is of a very cheap and vulgar kind, and by no means fitted
to give us a notion of Greek proficiency in painting, though
the archaeologist can extract from it many historic facts.

Thus it is that our knowledge of Greek decorative art is
far greater than our knowledge of Greek substantive art.
Decorative art is necessarily far less close to nature and less
under the dominion of the ideal than substantive art. The
relations between the two are like those between garlands of
flowers woven to adorn an arbour and the trees which bore the
flowers in their entirety. In the case of decorative art, the
relations of the representation to the space which it has to
occupy are primary ; in it we expect beauty of line and balance
of composition perhaps more than meaning and idea. In all
technical aspects Greek decoration is admirable ; and yet per-
haps its overwhelming prominence makes us think less than
we should of the thought and purpose involved in Greek art.




We must proceed in regular order, dealing first with the
relations to space which hold in the case of sculpture, and more
especially of relief work. Afterwards we will turn to the
higher and more ideal aspects of sculpture.

Relations to Space. — Greek sculpture falls naturally into two
parts — sculpture in the round and sculpture in relief. Sculp-
ture in the round again may be divided into two kinds — the
single figure and the group. Relief sculpture may be distin-

FiG. 22. — Argive reliefs.

guished as high relief, middle relief, and low or bas relief.
High relief is deeply undercut and in some parts usually quite
separated from the background : the metopes of the Parthenon
are an example. Middle relief rises well from the background
with abundant light and shade : the frieze of the Parthenon
is a good instance. Low relief is in character far removed from
the other two ; in fact, its affinities to painting are closer than
its affinities to sculpture. Originally dependent on the use of
colour, it follows in all its history the laws of colour rather
than those of the chisel.


Early reliefs in bronze are not cast in moulds, but beaten up
into them with the hammer, as are the gold reliefs used to
decorate coffers and other utensils. I figure casts from a mould
used for the production of reliefs of Argive type (Fig. 22)
now preserved in the Ashmolean Museum. Here separate
compartments are ranged side by side, and in each is a bal-
anced design complete in itself.

The Temple. — Since a large proportion of the extant sculp-
tural remains of Greece belonged to temples, it becomes very
important to trace their relations to the form of the temple.
These sculptural decorations consisted either of (1) the pedi-
ments, (2) the metopes, or (3) the frieze.

(1) The pediments occupied the triangular spaces at each
end of the temple, above the entablature and undeii the roof.
The Greek name for pediment, aerw/>ia, is taken from the shape,
which is like that of an eagle with spread wings. As regards
both subject and treatment, the pediment was governed by
strict laws. The subject was usually taken from the cycle of
myth belonging to the temple or its deity, and usually the
subjects chosen for the two pediments had some relation one
to the other : at Aegina the two expeditions aginst Troy
were commemorated, on the Parthenon, the birth of Athena
and her victory over Poseidon, and so forth. The triangular
form of the space caused the tallest of the figures — that is,
according to the ways of Greek art, the most dignified of them
— to be placed in the middle; and thus naturally the whole
action was concentrated in the midst in a fashion somewhat
like the concentration of interest at the end of a tragedy,
and the figures at either side were of subordinate impor-
tance. In the corners were commonly placed reclining figures
which marked the time of the event (sun and moon), the
place of the event (local nymphs and rivers), or other circum-
stance. The action which culminated in the midst either


flowed thence to the corners or else flowed from the corners to
the midst.

A more exact analysis of an example will illustrate the de-
fined and rigid principles on which the sculptor of the pedi-
ment worked. We take as our example the west pediment of
the temple of Zeus at Olympia, the arrangement of which by
Dr. Treu scarcely admits of dispute. The subject here is taken
from the marriage of Peirithous ; Pausanias says that it was
selected because of the two most prominent persons repre-
sented in it ; Peirithous was son of Zeus and Theseus de-
scended from Pelops. The connection is not very close ; in
fact, one suspects Attic influence in the choice of the subject,
since at Athens Peirithous and Theseus were closely associated.
However that be, what is clear is that the sculptor at Olympia
had to compose a pediment representing the violent conduct of
the Centaurs invited to the wedding, and the fashion in which
the bridegroom and his friend Theseus punished them. In the
midst of the pediment (Fig. 23), like the tongue of a balance
between two evenly poised scales, stands the dignified figure
of Apollo, who, present invisibly, is really controlling the
course of events. We must suppose the door of the guest
chamber to be behind him ; out of it issue forth on either side
Theseus and Peirithous, armed with any weapons they could
grasp, in hot pursuit of the Centaurs, who have seized upon
the bride and her companions and are trying to make their
escape with them. To each of the heroes is opposed a Centaur,
in the very act of trying to lift his prey. And on either side
of these central groups are other groups, or symplegmata, care-
fully balanced one against another on either side of the middle,
representing the struggle of Centaur and Lapith, the balance
of victory clearly inclining in favour of the latter. Beyond
lie aged women reclining on cushions, evidently slaves who
are crouching in terrorj and outside these again, to mark the



















1-; ■













locality, the young and beauteous forms of Thessalian nymphs,
who look on with that divine calm with which nature watches
the struggles and crimes of mankind.

The spatial adaptations of this pediment deserve a closer
consideration. Omitting the two nymphs, which are a mere
framing to the scene, and examining the groups from left
to right, w^e shall see that the numbers of figures in them pro-
ceed in a regular rhythm, 132313231; and we shall
observe not only how each group balances its match in the
other half of the pediment, but also how the lines of each group
are precisely adapted to its position. And further, it is possible

to take a point a little above the centre of the pediment, and
thence to draw lines which shall pass as it were through the
centre of gravity of each group, following the lines of its
general direction (Fig. 24). In fact, the composition of a
pediment is as exactly regulated as that of a sonnet or a
Spenserian stanza : the artist has libert}^ onl}^ in certain direc-
tions, and must not violate the laws of rhythm. The opposite
(eastern) pediment is composed on similar lines. The subject
is the preparations of Oenomaus and Pelops for the chariot race
w^hich was to decide the future of Peloponnesus. Zeus is in
the midst, invisible like Apollo on the opposite pediment. On
one side of him are Oenomaus and his wife Sterope, on the
other side Pelops and his destined bride Hippodameia. The



chariots of the two competitors with their attendants come
next ; the river-gocls Cladeus and Alpheus recline in the angles.
Here the action moves not from the middle to the angles, but

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Online LibraryPercy GardnerA grammar of Greek art → online text (page 6 of 18)