Page images
PDF
EPUB

XXXVII.

NOTICES OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS.

THE TWO MODELS OF THE PARTHENON, AND THE REMARKS UPON THEM. By R. C. Lucas, Sculptor. Salisbury, 1845.

THE two models of the Parthenon described by Mr. Lucas in the pamphlet before us are at present in the Elgin Room at the British Museum, and have been purchased by the trustees of the Museum for exhibition there. In one, a restoration of the temple is given, in the other, its ruined aspect. They are on a large scale, being twelve feet in length by six in width; the metopes, frieze, and pedimental sculptures are modelled with the greatest care, and according to the original depth of projection. In restoring the groups and figures which we have lost from the original design, Mr. Lucas has shewn at once sobriety of judgment and happiness of invention. For the composition of the two pediments his authorities were, the statues preserved in the Elgin Room and at Athens, the drawings made by Carrey just before the destruction of the Parthenon in the siege of Athens in 1687, the brief remarks of Pausanias and subsequent travellers, and the comments and conjectures of archæologists. Out of these materials, Mr. Lucas has formed an eclectic restoration, supplying the missing groups by the aid of modern conjecture, and adopting whatever seemed most consonant to the character of the original design. In this selection he has necessarily been guided rather by æsthetic feeling, and by the study of the existing remains than by the learned and ingenious arguments of archæologists. Without attempting to reconcile the successive theories of restoration proposed by Visconti, Cockerell, Bröndstedt, Gerhard, and Welcker, he has borrowed boldly from them groups and figures as he thought proper. He felt that his education as a sculptor did not qualify him to decide upon questions requiring for their solution profound research and long-trained archæological judgment; he knew that in the execution of such a task as his, it was hardly possible for a modern artist to avoid violating the known or presumed affinities of ancient mythology, and he has, therefore, at the risk of sacrificing unity of myth, sought, in the arrangement of his figures, to secure unity of design and harmony of effect.

[ocr errors]

In the eastern pediment he has followed M. Welcker in rejecting the restoration advocated by M. Gerhard and others, who suppose the birth

of Pallas to have been represented, as upon fictile vases, by a diminutive figure just issued from the head of Zeus. Such a design, of the effect of which we have an opportunity of judging in the similar restoration made by M. Quatremère de Quincy, Mr. Lucas justly considers unworthy of the genius of Phidias, and quotes the authority of Flaxman, who supposed the composition to have been filled, "not by a representation of the actual birth of Minerva, but rather by the introduction of the goddess to the august assemblage of the gods on Olympus,—a subject in the highest degree imposing, and admitting of a sculptural treatment of the greatest majesty." Mr. Lucas has accordingly represented, not the moment of birth, but the moment after that event. Pallas, of equal height with the other deities, stands by the side of Zeus; and the figure of Hephaestos leaning on his axe suggests the foregone conclusion of the well-known myth.

In the restoration of the composition of the western pediment, Mr. Lucas has been very successful. In Carrey's drawing, nearly all the original design is given, the only vacant space being between the central figure of Poseidon and the figure seated in a car on his left. M. Welcker has shewn, with every appearance of probability, that this figure is Amphitrite, and that to her car were attached two Hippocamps, which filled the space vacant in Carrey's drawing, and thus balanced the group of the car of Pallas on the other side. It remained for Mr. Lucas to embody M. Welcker's idea, and to demonstrate to the eye how admirably this restored group harmonizes with the rest of the composition. In the design of these Hippocamps, he has shewn both invention and knowledge of the antique. Looking at the whole motive of the design of this pediment, Mr. Lucas thinks that it was not the actual contest between Poseidon and Pallas, but its result, the victory of the goddess, which was represented by the central group; as in the eastern pediment, not the birth, but the moment after the birth, was chosen by Phidias as fitter for sculpturesque composition. We have noticed two or three of the chief points in this restoration, in which former artists and archæologists have failed, and in which Mr. Lucas has been, we think, more successful, partly because he has had for his guidance the suggestions of all that have preceded him in this task, but still more, because he has throughout steadily kept in view the method of inquiry advocated by M. Welcker, an analysis of the principles of design in the art of Phidias. (See Welcker's Treatise, Classical Museum, vol. 11. p. 367, foll.) Our space will not here permit us to enter into a critical examination of the whole of this restoration, or to do justice to the many difficulties which Mr. Lucas had to deal with, and which he enumerates under the following heads :— 1. The architectural restoration of the interior; 2. The missing me

topes; 3. The parts that are deficient in the frieze of the cella; 4. The devices on the shields; and lastly, The polychromatic adjuncts to the temple. With regard to the first of these points, we think that the Doric order, where Mr. Lucas has used the Ionic in the lower tier of columns, and the Ionic where he has used the Corinthian in the upper, would have produced an effect more in conformity with the whole character of the architecture; and this opinion coincides with that of M. de Laborde, and seems borne out by the facts stated in the letter from M. Pittakys, given in Mr. Lucas's pamphlet. In restoring the metopes, thirteen, of which there were no vestiges either on the building itself, or in the drawings of Carrey, have been supplied by designs suggested from Attic myths; the subjects are selected with excellent judgment, and happily adapted from ancient works of art by Mr. Lucas.

In the polychrome and metallic decorations of the Parthenon he has not been so successful. Conscious of the difficulty of such restoration, he has attempted but little, but that little rather impairs the harmony of his work. We do not like the blue tint he has chosen as the backgrounds on which the figures are relieved; still less do we like the gold shields; the devices on them are coarse, and destitute of the character of the antique; the shields themselves do not hang loosely on the wall, but project as if they were portions of the masonry, studding the surface with unmeaning ornament. Nor again do we like the splendid decorations of the figure in the interior which represents the Chryselephantine statue of the goddess. The glitter of her ægis and robe was no doubt subdued in the original building by the general tone of colouring of the architecture, but contrasted as it is in Mr. Lucas's model with cold white surfaces, it disturbs the eye and has a modern and theatrical effect.

In the execution of the several groups and statues in these two models there is evidence of an earnest study, and real appreciation of the art of Phidias; with the most unwearied diligence Mr. Lucas has sought out in existing monuments of antiquity authority for the type of every figure and accessory, while in the selection and recombination of these materials he has shewn great discrimination and ingenuity. We congratulate him on the very successful and speedy termination of his arduous task, and we are glad to see such a monument of his industry placed in the Elgin Room at the British Museum in immediate juxtaposition with those precious fragments which it so ably interprets and illustrates.

Of the value of such models as a means of public instruction too much cannot be said. Not only does the work of Mr. Lucas teach us to appreciate more highly the sculpture of the Elgin Room, by shewing

that, while singly and severally admirable as works of art, they must ever be regarded as but the portions of one great whole; but from this restoration we learn more clearly than from any definition of criticism the true province and function of Greek sculpture, its intimate and necessary connection with architecture, and the manner in which both were subservient to the expression of one great idea pervading the whole design.

In the sculpture of the Parthenon was represented all that was most sacred and most glorious in the eyes of the Athenian citizens,-in the pediments the forms of their indigenous Deities,-in the metopes every passage in the mythic history of their land,-in the procession of the frieze the image of their actual life and the majestic presence of a nation met for worship. In the work of Mr. Lucas this whole design is visibly demonstrated. While contemplating it we are more than ever reminded of a great truth unrecognized in the academic systems of this country, that monuments like the Parthenon, full of meaning and suggestion to the ancients themselves, may to us too, when rightly viewed, become the instrument of emphatic and familiar teaching; that the study of Greek art is collateral to that of Greek literature, and should be associated with it in a true scheme of classical education; that the scholar and the archeologist work out one common result, one interpreting the thought of antiquity as expressed in written language, the other, as it is expressed in the language of ancient

art.

C. N.

ARISTOPHANIS ACHARNENSES.

Recensuit et interpretatus est F. H. Blaydes. London, 1845. 8vo. (Nutt.) EDITIONS of the classics, with any pretensions to be called critical, are so rare in this country, in comparison of our vast educational establishments, that it is a pleasing task to record their publication. The present work does credit to Mr. Blaydes's scholarship, and the notes are written, or selected, with considerable judgment. They are also kept within reasonable bounds; for which, perhaps, we are indebted to their being written in Latin. The argument commonly urged in favour of English notes,-namely, that our mother tongue more nearly approaches the Greek idiom than Latin does, we conceive to be of little weight; since, where the force of a Greek phrase requires to be illustrated by a parallel one in English, the Latin annotator is always at liberty to give it.

Mr. Blaydes has made Dindorf's text the foundation of his own; but with several alterations, either on the authority of Codices, or,

nection of art with all the affairs of ordinary life: every house is ingeniously and tastefully arranged, every wall is adorned by some painter's hand, and every utensil combines beauty and originality of form with usefulness. But non cuivis licet adire Corinthum, and what is the use of only once beholding those treasures? Every one must feel a desire frequently to enjoy such an aspect, and to delight his eye and form his mind by repeated contemplation. We are therefore greatly indebted to the men, who, by their industry and skill, have multiplied those remnants of ancient art, so as to enable many of us to behold them in imitations which are as faithful as possible to the originals.

For a long time people were obliged to be satisfied with imperfect outlines on a reduced scale of the paintings on the walls of Herculaneum and Pompeii; and it is only in our own days that the advanced development of the lithographic art and the invention of printing in colours have rendered it possible to produce those paintings in their original size, or at least in a size very near that of the originals, and with their peculiar brilliancy of colour, at so moderate a price that even those persons who have but limited means may become possessed of faithful copies, or, more properly, of facsimiles.

We have here to give a brief account of a work which is executed with the greatest diligence and accuracy, and which contains imitations of the paintings at Herculaneum and Pompeii, from the drawings of M. Ternite, a work which we should like to see most extensively circulated, for the honour of ancient art, as well as for the good of the arts among ourselves. M. Ternite, who at present holds the office of inspector of the Royal Picture Gallery at Potsdam, is himself a distinguished historical and portrait painter. A love for his art led him, in 1824, to Italy. At Naples he devoted himself with astonishing diligence to copying those ancient paintings which are as wonderful for their invention as for their drawing. Whoever makes a faithful and skilful copy of a painting must himself be a skilful artist; but it rarely happens that such an artist sacrifices his own creative powers to a faithful imitation of the works of others. However, M. Ternite has done so, and in addition he enjoyed the singular good fortune of being allowed to make tracings from the original paintings. On his return he brought with him the fruits of his labours, consisting of a large number of the most accurate copies in colours, and a still greater number of exact outlines, in which the heads, and sometimes other parts also, were carefully finished; and he immediately set about lithographing his drawings himself and conducting the printing in colours. Goethe saw these coloured imitations and drawings, and let any one read with what admiration he expresses himself upon these

« PreviousContinue »