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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle


The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


Lives of the most eminent painters, sculptors and architects

by Giorgio Vasari

Excerpt:

Eerors from Rome—The invasion of the Roman Empire by Bararians reduces the Arts of Design to ruin—The Arts suffered injury, from the indiscreet zeal of the early Christians—Still heavier injuries inflicted by the Emperor Constans II, and by the Saracens—Of the Arts under the Lombards, and of the Architecture called Gothic—Of some better buildings erected in Florence, Venice, and elsewhere —Architecture revives to a certain extent in Tuscany, and more especially at Pisa—In Lucca—Sculpture, Painting, and Mosaic, ceasing to imitate the Greeks,* begin to revive by means of the Italians—Ancient Art as distinguished from the old— Conclusion.

It is without doubt a fixed opinion, common to almost all writers, that the arts of sculpture and painting were first discovered by the nations of Egypt, although there are some who attribute the first rude attempts in marble, and the first statues and relievi, to the Chaldeans, while they accord the invention of the pencil, and of colouring, to the Greeks. But I am myself convinced, that design, which is the foundation of both these arts, nay, rather the very soul of each, comprising and nourishing within itself all the essential parts of both, existed in its highest perfection from the first moment of creation, when the Most High having formed the great body of the world, and adorned the heavens with their resplendent lights, descended by his spirit, through the limpidity of the air, and penetrating the solid mass of earth, created man; and thus unveiled, with the beauties of creation, the first form of sculpture and of painting. For from this man, as from a true model, were copied by slow degrees (we may not venture to affirm the contrary), statues and sculptures: the difficulties of varied attitude,—the flowing lines * That is, the Byzantine Greeks,

of contour—and in the first paintings, whatever these may have been, the softness, harmony, and that concord in discord, whence result light and shade. The first model, therefore, from which the first image of man arose, was a mass of earth; and not without significance, since the Divine Architect of time and nature, Himself all-perfect, designed to instruct us by the imperfection of the material, in the true method of attaining perfection, by repeatedly diminishing and adding to; as the best sculptors and painters are wont to do, for by perpetually taking from or adding to their models they conduct their work, from its first imperfect sketch, to that finish of perfection which they desire to attain. The Creator further adorned his model with the most vivid colours, and these same colours, being afterwards drawn by the painter from the mines of earth, enable him to imitate whatsoever object he may require for his picture. It is true, that we cannot with certainty declare what was accomplished in these arts and towards the imitation of so beautiful a model, by the men who lived before the deluge, although we are fully justified in believing that they produced works of every kind, both in sculpture and painting, since Belus, son of the proud Nimrod, about two hundred years after the deluge, caused the statue to bo made, which, at a later period, gave birth to idolatry. His renowned daughter-in-law, moreover, Scmiramis, queen of Babylon, when building that city, not only placed various figures of animals, drawn and coloured from nature, among the ornaments of her edifices, but added statues of herself and of her husband Ninus, with figures in bronze, representing her father-in-law, her mother-in-law, and the mother of the hitter, calling them, as Diodorus relates, by the names of the Greeks, Jupiter, Juno, and Ops* (which as yet were not in use). And it was probably from these statues that the Chaldeans learned to form the images of their gods, since we know, that a hundred and fifty years later, Rachael daughter of Laban, when flying from Mesopotamia with Jacob, her husband, stole the idols of her father, as is plainly set forth in the book of Genesis.

Nor were the Chaldeans the only people who devoted

* Diodorus, 1. ii, c. 9, mentions the golden statues of Jupiter, Juno, and Rhea, but not as portraits.

themselves to sculpture and painting; the Egyptians also lahoured with great zeal in these arts, as is proved by the wondrous sepulchre of that ancient monarch, Osimandyas, described at length by Diodorus, and, as may be clearly inferred from the severe law enacted by Moses at the departure from Egypt, namely, that no image whatever should be raised to God, under pain of death. And when this lawgiver, descending from the Mount, found the golden calf, set up and voluntarily adored by his people, he not only broke and reduced it to powder, in his great indignation at the sight of divine honours paid to a mere animal, but commanded that many thousands of the guilty Israelites, who had committed that idolatry, should be slain by the hands of the Levites. But that the worship, and not the formation of statues, was the deadly crime thus deprecated, we read in the book of Exodus, where the art of design and statuary, not only in marble, but in all kinds of metals, was given by the mouth of God Himself to Bezaleel, of the tribe of Judah, and to Aholiab, of the tribe of Dan, who were appointed to make the two cherubim of gold, the candlesticks, the veil, and the fringes of the sacerdotal vestments; with all the beautiful castings for the Tabernacle; and these embellishments were executed for no other purpose than to induce the people to contemplate and admire them.

It was from the works seen before the deluge, then, that the pride of man acquired the art of constructing statues of all those to whom they desired to attribute immortal fame; and the Greeks, who account for the origin of art in various methods, declare, according to Diodorus, that the Ethiopians constructed the first statues, affirming, that from them the Egyptians acquired the art, and that the Greeks derived it from the Egyptians. That sculpture and painting had attained their perfection in Homer's time, is rendered obvious by the manner in which that divine poet speaks of the shield of Achilles, and which he sets before our eyes with so much art, that it is rather sculptured and painted, than merely described. Lactantius Firmianus attributes the discovery to Prometheus, who moulded the human form of clay, after the example of the Almighty himself, and the art


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