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Lational Register :
For AUGUST, 1816.
NATIONAL and PARLIAMENTARY it glares with its eyes : it gnashes with
its teeth, it roars-such, at least, is Notices,
the action of its mouth, with a vehePROSPECTIVE and RETROSPECTIVE.
mence and contortion equally expressive
and terrific. (BRITISH & FOREIGN.)
Such are the idols of most uncivilized
nations : they are rude, barbarous, disELGIN MARBLES. proportionate: they observe no order,
and they follow no rules. They attempt
not to please ; they neither attract por REPORT
charm; they neither soothe nor delight. FROM THE SELECT COMMITTEE Diametrically contrary are the finished
productions of natjous distinguished by EARL OF ELGIN'S
over refinement.—They usually pro
ceed from a studious correctness to grace, COLLECTION OF SCULPTURED
and from grace they sink into the decriMARBLES, &c.
pitude of elegance, affectation, and miOrdered by the Hon. House of Commons to be micry. This is the extreme of principrinted, 25 March, 1816.
ples good in themselves, but suffering abuse; the result of that sickly state of
the human mind when it hankers after Are the Arts of Design natural to unattainable novelty ; a something to mankind? They are certainly superflui-gratify its caprice; a something which ties, refinements, and to be placed after it cannot define; but which eludes or the necessaries of life, in the order of defies the application of judicious theory, importance; yet, so it is, that scarcely or of masterly practice. have the most destitute savages satisfied It were perhaps rather paradoxical to the cravings of nature, 'ere they proceed describe Art as most impressive at the to embellishments derived from fancy ; point antecedent to absolute perfection; they tax their imitative powers to form when there yet remains only a certain resemblances of beasts or men, to be re- insensible step to be taken to attain garded as objects of terror by their ene- completeness ; or certain defects, invisible mies, or of patronage and protection by except to masters of the greatest skill, to themselves.
be removed, as the only impediments Such as are the passions of man, such that withhold the competent judge are the images he forms: ardent and from pronouncing a work perfect. And uncontroulable himself in his wild state, yet, so narrow is the line that bounds he delights in fierce and violent expres- perfection, that much greater is the sion: that he may render his work strik-danger of overpassing it, and much more ing, he makes it extravagant; under his is the satisfaction of the critic aiminishforming hands it becomes a monster, that. ed by over-refinement, than by the re
may not be feeble: it frowns, it stares, mains of that evergetic emulation strugVol. IV. No. 23. Lit. Pun. N. S. dug. 1.
gling after consummate excellence, which / sideration of all, Greece, from the day
were ing the idea it contemplated. Such is the lost its liberty, and sunk under the ferojudgment formed on the works of mas- city of the sons of the desart. ters of the highest class ; and such is the ..^ They raised and distinguished character of national Art, which is but Athens;" for, it is the property of exthe result of a combination of masters quisite works of Art to attract the noand their works, whose general merit en tice and admiration of strangers, no less titles them to rank among that class by than of natives. What numbers might which their country is distinguished. resort to Athens expressly for the study
Art is like a Rower, most attractive of these works, we know not; but we when not quite full blown ;-but if over- know that great multitudes piqued themblown, every beholder detects the redun-selves on having taken lessons in the dancy; in the first case, the eye and the Polite Arts in that celebrated seminary. heart supply the deficiency, with advan- A famous instance we have in Cicero's tige, by the mere force of expectation; son, Marcus, to whom his father writes in the latter case, a latent conviction in praise of the opportunities he enjoyof no further improvement to be hoped ed at Athens, as well to learn as to for, dissipates the delusion on which the judge : ad dicendum, et ud judicaneye and heart would rest, but cannot. dum. That the concourse of strangets Art is like the animal frame, most en was great, there is abundant evidence; gaging, if not most lovely, when on the and that they gratitied their curiosity point of filling up its parts and propor- and their taste by contemplating the very tions to the dimensions of maturity; but, figures now under repori, admits of vo if those dimensions be exceeded, though question. It is true, they beheld them by ever so little, the impossibility of re- in situations for which they were pecuturning to the just point, more effectu- liary adapted, and therefore to greater ally damps delight thau many petty im-advantage than we behold them; but, if perfections, discoverable only by scruti- we learn from these figures on what nizing correctness.
principles to adapt our own works to And further, it must be recollected, their proper places, as intended, the that the mind of a great master may oc- possession of these master-pieces cannot casionally betray his hand into slightin- possibly but be deemned of the first inadvertencies, from which inferior talent portance. may be free, because it acts under no All the world readily allows that works equal impulse of genius. To this must to be seen from a distance may, and be added, the consideration, whether must, differ in their execution, from such seeming blemishes as may some- those which are to be examined close at times be detected, are really faults, when hand. The figures in the pediment of the nature, purpose, and situation of the St. Paul's Church, differ essentially from work have been fully considered. a miniature picture; those in the fron
To apply these leading principles to tispiece of the India House, though the instance of the Elgin Marbles; it much nearer than the former, differ may be remarked, that there is no ques- from the tablet of a dining room chimtion on their originality and identity. ney-piece. Distance demands effort ; They are, beyond all controversy, the that which would be violent, iminediate same figures as were really placed by ly before the eye, is in danger of becutPhidias in the Parthenon, or Temple of ing tume, when removed to a distance Minerva, and that of Theseus, at Athens. for which it is not calculated. And this Whether they are the workmanship of consideration enters powerfully into the Phidias's own hand is not so clear. They maxims on which a competent master are ibe same as were admired by the anti- proceeds : hence too, we conclude, that ent connoisseurs two thousand years ago. the antient artists bad profoundly They contributed to establish the fame of studied the powers of Perspective; and the, inaster; and they raised and distin- that they directed those powers to their guished Athens in the opinion and con- professional advantage. Tostauces of.
this are notorious, in their most capital principal frontispiece, as a composiworks ;-one leg of the famous Apollo tion, surpasses the original plan of Belvidere is longer than its fellow, by Phidias, for filling it; and nothing can five minutes of measurement ; but this reconcile the eye to the unpleasant effect was not discerned, from a proper point produced by placing these figures in of perspective view. The Hercules of situations where they seem to have no Glycon, has muscular protuberances to room for lifting up their heads. If it an excess, absolutely unnatural; but, were necessary that their heads should these disappeared, when seen remote ; appear to support the members of the while, the anatomy of the upper part of architecture impending on them, then the back of this figure is neglected, and the artist might be bound, by causes unin fact, is treated in a slovenly manner, known to us; but, if the figures were becanse it could not be seen, at all, by supposed to be free, then this is an unthe people standing devotionally be- sightly blemish. But, this particular fore it.
also depends on the effect of Perspective, And the illustrious Artist whose works from the point whence it was possible to form the leading subjects of this Report, view them; and, if they could not be avowedly studied and practised the same
seen because of the interposition of surprinciples. It is said, that, when his rounding buildings near the temple, this favourite pupil, Alcamenes, produced a uncouth appearance would certainly befigure of Venus, Phidias also submitted come inoffensive, perhaps invisible, at another to the public. The public voice a distance. was decidedly in favour of that by the Phidias has been reproached with younger artist, the proportions of which falling into errors, in consequence of his appeared to be most correct, standing
desire to obtain a greatness of manner. where it then stood ;-but, when these His Olympian Jupiter, a sitting figure, works were placed in the situations they
was of such magnitude, that it was said, were desigued to occupy, the sanction of should the god rise up, he would make the critics was reversed; and now the his way through the roof of the Temple, principles of the elder master obtained of which be was the chief ornament. iheir reward, as being the best calcu- But this criticism was the suggestion of lated to present the most beautiful
a mind at ease; not of a mind steeped
proportions. The same principles he follow- in the solemnities of worship; whereas ed in the sculptures placed in the front the calculations of the artist were comof Minerva's Temple. As no spectator
bined with the rituals of the service; could approach them closely, they are with time and place. Who that was treated in a large, bold, broad man
filled with awe, from a sense of majesty ner : they admit po minute lineaments, received by the sight, could cooly culcufor such could not be seen, at the height late the proportion in feet and inches for which they were designed.
The between this representative of Divinity, selection of parts, then, is their merit : and the abode in which he resided ? Had they derive a grandeur from the rejec- the Temple been open to the sky, the tion of all meagre, feeble, petty lines, statue would have been equally grand;. markings, and members; and from the though it must be accepted as probable adoption of whatever is noble, expanded, that the learned artist would have studied dignified, in the human frame. They to direct the difference of light, and exare nature, exalted by skilful association posure, to the generation of effects essenand adaptation.
tially varied from those he now adopted. It must at the same time be acknow, tisfaction of possessing these works of
It is not, then, merely from the saledged, that in point of grouping and the greatest master of antiquity, nor composition, we cannot infer from what remains of them, or did remain of them, thentic and original, that we estimate
because they are unquestionably aubefore the explosion by which the 'Temple was destroyed, that they equal the • The temple of Jupiter Olympius was demands of modern art. To say truth, destroyed in the time of Jerom, (the 4tle Mr. Stuart's sketch for restoring the century). Cont. Jovian, lib. ii.
the value of these sculptures; but, to lents of every citizen were called into these reasons we add the persuasion that activity: and their utmost energies, mothey contain the power of instructing ral and personal, were demanded by the those who closely examine them; those urgency of the time, for the service of who by diligent study constrain them to their country. reveal the principles which guided the hand of their author. These principles enjoyed advantageous intervals, when,
Amidst the ravages of war, the Arts are susceptible of infinité variation, ac after the revolution of every four years, cording to the application demanded the Olympic Games, and after every from their powers. These instances of
the Isthmian Games, suswhat has been done, will animate many pended hostilities, and allowed all the instances which will be done. They will become a school in which the lesson will youth of Greece, with every person of
any consideration, tu travel the country be taught, how to accomplish purpuses without alarm. To these the artists ex of the utmost moment to art, and how hibited their works: they derived adto direct exertions of skill to their most vantage from the criticisnis of the libedesirable ends.
ral; perhaps from the sarcasms of the The foregoing remarks refer chiefly censorious: they had much to endure, to those figures wbich were placed at a no doubt, from the errors of ignorance; great height in the temple of Minerva, yet something they might learn: the and were to be seen from a great distance. cobler who could not judge of a leg, The collection contains others, less pro- might criticise a sandal ; and a foreigner minent, perhaps less skilful, but not might hazard a remark, which would less interesting, because they represent have been ill taken from a fellow-citizen the most pompous annual procession of the artist, that took place in honour of the Athe
At length to a vigorous war suce nian Goddess. These could be seen by ceeded a peace, which was celebrated reflected light only; and the artist de- with almost endless rejoicings; and now peuded for their effect on the general ap- Phidias astonished enraptured Greece pearance of the whole extensive mass, by the sublimity of his productions, when in a perfect and finished state.
Hence Aristophanes says, that Phidias Of course, this procession represents " was in alliance with the Goddess of the dresses, the accoutrements, the Peace.” Need we say, how nearly our ferms and usages of the city of Athens, country finds itself in a similar situation: at the time when it was sculptured: it we have attained a peace, after a struge is therefore a school of antiquity, as well gle equally arduous, and infinitely more as of art. There are many other things costly than that of the Greeks: shallin this collection, of which the same may we emulate, shall we now surpass them, be said; but, we must not suffer the in the skill of our artists, in the merit subject to incroach too far on our pages. of their works? Shall we more than
Winkleman observes, very justly, that equal the school of Athenian Phidias; the most favourable time for the Arts in whose labours at this moment excile our Greece, and especially for Athens, was admiration? the forty years, during which Pericles It will be recollected, that to these governed the Republic with all the pre-works Athens, owes whatever of remia dominance of royalty. Nor was this niscence attaches to her renown. Syhappy time interrupted, by the obstinate nesius informs us, that about sixty years war that preceded the famous contest after Byzantium had become the seat of for superiority between Athens and the empire, Athens fell into total decay. Sparta, in the eighty-seventh Olympiad. Deprived of all magnificence, it now lo some respects, that period resembles presented nothing but the feeblest echo our own; for the necessity of exertion of its once mighty name, and the wrecks. had stimulated both parties to the dis- of its once glorious edifices. In later play of their utmost strength and re-ages so greatly was it reduced, that its sources, each endeavouring to turn the very name was lost; and Settines was. balance to its own advantage. The ta- the appellation given to what was descri