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Was it only to please the eye of the reindeer-hunter, when, retiring to his cavern at nightfall, he made his evening meal on the spoils of the chase, by the dim light of smoking lamps filled with oil from the fat of deer? It is impossible to accept such an hypothesis. I have already spoken of the magic element in the works of art carved, engraved, or painted by primi- tive man. They show us the first steps of humanity in the path which led to the worship of animals as in Egypt , then to that of idols in human shape as in Greece , and finally to that of divinity as a purely spiritual conception.
The study of the birth of religion is interwoven with that of the origin of art. Born simultaneously, art and religion were closely connected for long ages ; their affinity is still evident enough to the thinking mind. Bertrand, La Gaule avant les Gaulois, 2nd ed. Piette on the Reindeer Age and the Pyrenean caverns explored by him ; G. Reinach, Alluvions el Cavernes, Paris, ; E.
Hoernes, Der diliiviale Mensch in Europa, For the paintings recently discovered in the caves by Messrs. For an explanation of these works, ci. On primitive Art in general; E. On the Art of the Child: On the idea of Art and Esthetics: Cherbuliez, L'Arl el la Nalure, 2nd ed. Seailles, Essai sur le Genie dans I'Arl, 2nd ed. Guyau, L'Arl au point de vue Sociologique, 5th ed. Lange, Das Wesen der Kunsl, 2 vols.
The extinction of the civilisation of the reindeer-hunters seems to have been brought about by a change of cli- mate. Seine geological phenomenon hitherto unexplained caused a cessa- tion of the cold, which was succeeded by torrential rains and damp warmth. The reindeer, for which the present climate of St. Petersburg is too hot, disappeared or migrated; the caves, invaded by streams of water, and often swept by the rivers in flood, became uninhabitable; vast plain? The population of France was not, in- deed, annihilated, but it certainly diminished very greatly, the reduction being brought about partly by the change of climate, partly by emigra- tion.
The civilisation of the reindeer age disappeared.
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When we find traces of a new civilisation in France, it is marked by a poverty and coarse- ness that reveal the catastrophes among which it was brought forth. A new humanity may almost be said to have come into being; and if that of the quaternary age had required thousands of years to evolve true works of art, some thirty or forty cen- turies had again to pass before works of art worthy of the name were pro- duced in France.
The first buildings of the present period using the term in its geologi- cal sense are the camps or remains of villages, where the chief evidences of human activity are the flint imple- PIG. To a later epoch, some of the same period as the most ancient of the lacustrine dwellings, for in both polished stone axes are numerous. These were used as places of refuge and as workshops. The civilisation of the lake-dwellers is familiar to us, for thousands of objects fashioned by them have been discovered embedded in the mud. Among these, in addition to hand-made pottery, are hatchets of polished stone, sometimes very elegant in shape, arms, tools, and pendants; but not a single work of art has come to light.
This polished stone period to which the lake-dwellings belong, was also the age when in other regions of Europe, notably in Brittany, the Cevennes, England, Denmark, and Sweden, men began to raise those huge tombs in undressed stone known as dolmens Fig. The dolmens are indubitably whereas there is scarcely a trace of metals. The phase of human history on which we are now touching is marked by two innovations of the highest importance: Car- bonised cereals and heaps of manure have been found in the mud of the lake-dwellings, and it is more than probable that the civili- sation of the dolmen-build- ers was analo- gous to that of the lake- dwellers.
We cannot now in- quire into the question how man first conceived the idea of domesticating animals, sowing corn, barley, millet, FIG. The construction of lake-dwellings and of dolmens continued even after man had begun to make use of gold and copper, the first two metals he knew. A little later, the discovery of tin, and some happy accident which led to the idea of fusing tin and cop- per, placed a new metal, bronze, at man's disposal, and thus gave a consid- erable impetus to material civilisation.
Lake-dwellings of the age of bronze have been discovered, the axes, swords, and metal ornaments of which bear witness to the advanced stage of tech- nical proficiency reached by their inhabitants. But in the dolmens, only very simple bronze objects, such as beads, buttons, and knives have been found; the practice of burying the dead in dolmens must therefore have been discontinued before the abandonment of the lake-dwellings B.
The total absence of pure works of art at this period is a subject of much surprise to archa: If we ex- cept a few wretched figures in terra cotta, a few menhirs rudely carved into a semblance of the human form Fig. But, on the other hand, linear decoration is very highly developed. On the little island of Gavrinis, off the coast of Morbihan, rises one of those huge mounds of earth called tumuli. Inside the tumu- lus is a dolmen, approached by a long alley bordered with enormous blocks of granite. These blocks are covered with elaborate designs, carved with flint implements, works which must have cost their authors an infinity of time and trouble Fig.
We findafewaxes introduced among the ornament, but nothing resembling any living creature. There is a similar monument in Ire- land, at New Grange, near Dublin. Here the walls are covered with de- signs very like those at Gavrinis, and perhaps older.
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In Denmark, Sweden, Spain, and Portugal there are other large dolmens, in all of which represen- tations of human and animal life are likewise conspicuous by their absence. The existence of art in the age of nC. This ornament consists of dog-toothing, triangles, zigzags, rectangles, dotted bands, and concentric circles, showing a variety and ingenuity of combination that bear witness to the decorative instinct of the potters and bronze- workers of the age Fig.
Found at Reallon, Hautes Alpes. The utmost achieved by the Gauls before Cesar's conquest of Gaul was the execution of a few animals in bronze, and of a few more or less shapeless figures on coins. Before a new plastic art arose among them, the Gauls, who excelled alike as workers in metal and in enamel, had to become the pupils of Roman artists, themselves disciples of the Greeks. In Great Britain, as in the regions now included in the German Empire, it was also Roman conquest or Roman commerce which led to the tardy adoption of figure-ornament.
Sweden and Den- mark only began to produce it towards the period of the downfall of the Empire, though the inhabitants of these countries had continuously manufactured weapons, ornaments, and vases of metal, decorated with an astonishing variety of linear motives Fig. All this was art, for it was in the nature of luxury and amusement; but it was incomplete art, for the imita- tion of living nature had no place in it.
Dolmens and menhirs mark the be- ginnings of architecture, but of archi- tecture scarcely worthy of the name, for decoration plays hardly any part in it, and the elements of construction can claim no excellence other than that of a massive solidity. The only monu- ment of this nature which has any artistic character is the circle of tri- liths, each consisting of two uprights with a lintel, at Stonehenge on Salis- bury Plain, but the blocks of stone are hewn, and Stonehenge does not appar- ently date froin a more remote period than the bronze age Fig.
After this age, the only stone buildings of Western Europe were walls of defence; the dwellings and even the temples were of wood. This was, happily, not the case on the eastern shores of the Mediter- ranean. Stone axes like those of Saint- Acheul have been discovered in Egypt and on the coast of Asia; but so far, we have no evidences that art had admirably worked, articles of luxury, and personal ornaments of hippopota- mus-ivory and schist, and vases of hard stone.
Before the epoch of the Pharaohs, which was also that of the introduction of metals, Egypt, though destitute of architecture, boasted a very flourishing industry, which did not hesitate to essay the representation of human figures, animals, and plants, in painting, in terra cotta, in ivory, and in schist. It is true that these essays are extremely rude, and that the per- sonages drawn or engraved by the FIG. On the other hand, the second stone age in Egypt was marked by a civilisation no less consummate than rapidly achieved.
Of the corresponding period in Baby- lon we know little as yet; but thanks to the recent researches of Messrs. Morgan, Amelineau, and Flinders Petrie in Egypt, we know that the Egyptians, before they had begun to use bronze and iron, produced thousands of fictile vases decorated with paintings, large flint-knives most Egyptians of the stone age resemble the sketches of savages; but the Egyp- tian savage possessed a manual dexter- ity superior to that of his western con- temporaries, and, for him, art was not confined to linear decoration.
Let us examine the flint-knife, orna- mented with a sheet of engraved gold, in the Museum of Cairo. Gold, which is found in its raw state, was known in the stone age; it was, perhaps, this metal which suggested the discovery and employment of others. This object, however, is exceptional in quality. To get a general idea of primitive Egyptian art, we must study the painted vases which have been discovered in large numbers in the burial-places of Abydos and Negadah Upper Egypt.
Some of these are decorated with paintings of ostriches, and of Nile boats, with flags fore and aft; there are also human figures in attitudes expressive of adoration or distress. Other examples of these gestures are to be seen in the terra- cotta figures at Negadah, which appear to be tattooed all over. From the same necropolis we have little figures in ivory and in schist, dating, no doubt, from about the year B.
In the deeper strata of the city of Troy, excavated by Schliemann, as also in the more archaic tombs of the Archipelago, vases and primitive figurines have been discovered which may be compared to those found in Egypt, though they are not in any sense imitations. Here, also, the civil- isation of the stone age, though not strictly speaking artistic, reveals ele- ments other than those of the purely decorative style.
On the other hand, the eastern shores of the Mediterra- nean did not, during the bronze age, show a development of geometric dec- oration equal to that achieved in the west and north of Europe. A parallel may be found in the fact that Mussul- man art, which refrained from the representation of the human figure, reached a higher stage of development in the science of ornament than the western art of the Middle Ages. We have now come to the period verging on the year B. At this epoch, Babylon and Egypt took the lead in civilisation, and prepared the way for the splendour of classic art.
From about the year B. Recjierches sur ks Origincs dc VEgypte, vol. After a tem- porary eclipse about the year B. Greece had to submit a fresh echpse, in Western Europe, to Rome, and Rome to conquer part which, from the year looo a. For the carved menhirs Aveyron , see Hermet, Bulletin du Comite, i8g8, p. Hoerncs, Urgeschichtc der bildendcn Kunst in Europa, Vienna, Reinach, V Anthropologic, , p. For the Prehistoric Civilisation of the Archipelago: Perrot and Chipiez, Histoire de I'Art, vol. Ridgway, The Early Age oj Greece, vol.
The Monuments of Tello, near Bas- sorah. The so-called Ancient Em- pire lasted from about this date to the year B. This was succeeded by a long period of decad- ence, only temporarily arrested, from to B. In , Egypt was conquered by the Persians, in by Alexander, and then successively by the Romans, the Arabs, the Turks, the French and the English. She has never regained her independence since B.
But in our own times, she has achieved a prosperity almost equal to that of her period of ancient splendour. The history of Egyptian art which we are able to trace in existing monu- ments, is marked by certain invariable characteristics; on the one hand, a technical skill that has remained un- surpassed throughout the ages; on the other, an absolute incapacity to throw aside archaic conventions and rise to liberty and beauty.
First among the nations of the earth, the Egyptians raised great buildings of stone, with vast halls upheld by columns, lighted laterally from above. Such is the great hall of the temple of Karnak at Thebes Fig. The most obvious defect of the Egyptian temple is that it is too long for its height, and that the exterior shows too much wall and too few apertures. In this respect the Egyptian temple is the antithesis of the Gothic church; in the one we have an excess of massive surface, in the other an excess of empty space; Greek art found the just mean and kept to it.
Diodorus Siculus, a Greek his- torian who flourished shortly before the Christian era, says that the Egyptians looked upon their houses as mere places of passage, and on their tombs as their permanent FIG. Jackal-headed Anubis and Falcon-headed Herus. So true is this, that our knowledge of Egyptian art is derived mainly from tombs, either the enor- mous pyramids of stone and brick destined for royalty, or the chapels built above the ground, and the sepul- chres hewn in the rocks.
The tombs of the rich are adorned inside with sculpture, paintings, and bas-reliefs. They are, in fact, temples, of which the dead per- son was the divinity. Thousands of Egyptian statues have come down to us, statues in stone, bronze, and terra cotta, from the colos- sal Sphinx ad- joining the great Pyra- mids Fig. These statues represent gods and god- desses, often with the animal heads ascribed to them by Egyptian myth- ology, men, women, and children, sing- ly, and in groups, and animals, both real and fantastic. The bas-reliefs and paintings present even greater variety of subject.
The majority represent the Pharaonic victories, the intermin- able ceremonial of religious worship, scenes of daily life, or of the soul's journey to the land of the dead Fig. Landscape backgrounds are very FIG. On first entering an Egyptian mu- seum, we are struck by the apparent resemblance between all the figures, and we wonder that the art of a nation should have remained so uniform for centuries. But a more careful exami- nation, such as may be adequately car- ried on at the British Museum or the Louvre, at once reveals essential dif- ferences.
Under the Ancient Empire, the figures are shorter and sturdier, and are more directly inspired by nature Fig. From the rise of the Middle Empire, the figures begin to lengthen, the modelling to become more flaccid; a superficial elegance is the accepted ideal, and the results, though occa- sionally charming Fig.
These tendencies were still more pronounced under the New Empire, the aca- demic period of Egyptian art, a period characterised by extraordi- nary technical skill, subservient to a conventional style destitute of character. In the Saite epoch, the traditions of. At this period, Egyptian art produced masterpieces such as the basalt head in the Louvre Fig. Nevertheless, the visitor's first im- pression of monotonous uniformity finds at least a partial justification.
Conspicuous among these is what the Danish ar- chaeologist, Lange, called the law of frontalily. When several figures are grouped on the same pedestal, the vertical axes of their bodies are exactly parallel Fig. Secondly, all the figures, whether motionless or walking, rest all their weight on the soles of their feet; no Egyptian ever represented a person resting his weight on one leg, and touching the ground lightly with the disengaged foot. The male figures are nearly always walking, with the left foot advanced; but the women and children are in repose, their legs pressed closely together.
In the re- liefs and paintings, with very few exceptions, the figures are in profile, but strange to say, the eyes and the shoulders are turned to the front Fig. Such a disregard for realities is striking enough, but it does not end here. Painting, whether applied to statues and reliefs, or executed on a flat surface, is a mere coloration, with- out gradation or fusion of tones, and without chiaroscuro.
Perspective is so absolutely ignored, that when two per- sons are supposed to be side by side, the second is generally drawn on top of the first. Thus Egyptian composi- tions, whether carved or painted, hardly deserve this name, for they lack any attempt at arrangement and symmetry; they consist of a medley of motives, which bear the same relation to the grouping of Greek art as does the driest of chronicles to history. After monumental architecture, of which they set the example, the greatest gift of the Egyptians to art was their system of decoration. Of all the sculptural types they created, one FIG.
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Egyptians from the flora of the Nile, notably from their two favourite plants, the lotus and the papyrus. We feel our- selves strangely out of touch with a collection of Egyptian statues and bas-reliefs, but we greet a group of Egyptian ornaments almost as familiar objects Fig. This is why our modern goldsmiths and jewellers are able to draw inspiration from the ad- mirable jewels of ancient Egypt, with- out any unduly archaistic efifort. Summing up the character of Egyptian art in a word, we might say that it represents, above all things, the idea of duration.
Nature has de- creed that all things should persist in Egypt, from the imperishable granite of her monuments to the most fragile objects of wood and stuff, preserved by the dryness of her climate. But the Egyptian himself was in love with the idea of duration. He built gigantic tombs like the Pyramids, impervious to the action of long ages, and temples with columns massive and manifold, and sloping walls like earthworks.
He embalmed his dead for eternity, plac- ing beside them in the tomb statues and statuettes of rare material, to serve them as companions, and in case of need, to replace them, should their mummies disappear; he carved and painted on the walls of tombs and temples historic, religious, and domes- tic scenes, destined to perpetuate the memory of the history of the gods, of the mighty deeds of kings, of the ritual and familiar life of his day. This idea of duration naturally engendered a re- spect for the past and for tradition.
Egyptian art was not immobile, for no living thing is without motion, but it was fettered by conventions and for- mulae. It achieved liberty only by the accident of individual inspiration, and even when it came in contact with 19 FIG. Greek art, it persevered in the narrow path it had marked out for itself. The question is open to controversy. Per- haps neither influenced the other. It is unquestionably the fact that the most ancient of the works of art dis- covered since by M. Up to the present time, the art of the valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates is known to us mainly by two groups of monuments; those of Tello, which date from very remote antiquity, and those of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian kings, which date from the eighth and seventh cen- turies before Christ.
The former are known as Babylonian or Chaldaean. There are further great numbers of small objects, notably seals in hard stone called cylinders on which arc engraved mythological or religious scenes, which reveal the art of Chaldaea and Assyria at every period of their history, under the kings of Babylon and those of Nineveh.
The principal monuments of Chal- daean art, discovered at the palace of Tello, are all in the Louvre. They are bas-reliefs, such as the famous Stela of the Vultures, which represents Eannadou, king of Sirpourla, exulting over enemies whom vultures are de- vouring, and the great statues of black diorite, eight of which bear the name of Goudea, Prince of Sirpourla Fig.
The statues are not onlyastonishing by virtue of their workmanship, to which technical difficulties seem mere child's play; they reveal a particular con- ception of the human form, directly opposed to that of the Egyptians. Whereas the Egyptian sculptor loved to attenuate details, to soften his modelling, to elongate his figures, the Chalda: The bas-reliefs of the palace of Nineveh, though later by fifteen centuries than these Chaldaean sculptures, are a continuation of the same art.
Heuzey has re- marked: Discovered at Tello, Babylon. The modelling of the arm and of the foot sufficiently indicate the tendencies of Chaldaean art; we find nothing akin to it in Egypt, save perhaps the heads of the Saite school, later by some years. Even in Greece it would be difficult to point to sculpture showing the same exaggeration of muscular energy. A head, in very excellent preserva- tion, was discovered at the same place Fig. It represents a fat man with'' a shaven face, wearing a sort of turban with swathed folds in relief. The thick eyebrows and widely-opened eyes are features common to all Chaldaean and Assyrian art.
The square structure of the face, and the prominent cheek- bones bear the same stamp of physical vigour we have already noted in The Architect with the Rule. The expres- sion has no touch of benevolence, not the shadow of a smile ; the folks of Tello must have been formidable neighbours. The glorification of brute-force, and a delight in cruel spectacles character- ise the long series of alabaster bas- reliefs dating from about — B. They formed the interior decoration of palaces, and commemorated the victories and diversions of the As- syrian kings.
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Whereas in Egyptian art the gods are the protagonists, in that of Assyria the kings take their place, kings eager for military fame, glorying in the recollection of bloody victories. The bas-reliefs show scenes of revolting carnage, of horrible tor- tures inflicted on the vanquished in the presence of the conqueror. The cuneiform in- scriptions that accompany the bas-reliefs cele- brate the most hideous butche- ries as high exploits. Rep- resentations of tutelary divini- ties are not, however, alto- gether lacking. The Louvre owns a colossal figure of a bearded god, probably Gil- games, the As- syrian Hercules, gripping a lion to his breast Fig.
Elsewhere, Assyrian sculptures show winged FIG. The goddesses who figure so frequently on the cylinders, never ap- pear in the bas-reliefs, where, indeed, female figures are rarely to be seen, save in processions, as queens or cap- tives. Another favourite theme is a royal hunting party. The representation of animals, horses, dogs, and lions , is the triumph of Assyrian art Fig.
Greek antiquity produced nothing finer than the wounded lion and lioness in the British Museum Fig. The men, with their hard, bony faces, their square, sym- metrically curled beards, their ex- aggerated muscularity, are at once less elegant and less natural than the animals. Yet the drawing is more correct here than in the Egyptian bas- reliefs; and if the eyes are still shown looking to the front in profile figures, the shoulders do not confront the spectator, as do those of the Egyptian sculptures.
Assyrian art has left us but very few figures in the round. Its essential object was the decoration of surfaces, which were also faced with painted stuccoes, enamelled bricks, and figured bronzes. A party of German explorers has recently discovered at Babylon a colossal lion in enamelled bricks, very similar to the great friezes in the Louvre, brought by M. Dieulafoy from Susa; but the exploration of the temples and palaces of Babylon has only just begun.
The Assyrians had no building stone. They used bricks for the con- struction of their vast palaces, com- posed of rectangular halls and long corridors surrounding a series of interior courts, and decorated their immense surfaces with paintings and sculptures. We know very little about their temples, save that they were in the shape of a pyramid with steps, sur- mounted by a chapel containing the FIG. The most interesting feature of riG. Assyrian architecture is the import- ance given to the vault. The Egyptians were not altogether ignor- ant of it, but they made only a very restricted use of it, whereas the Assyrians built not only vaults, but cupolas of brick, rising boldly above their square halls.
It is a mistake, therefore, to attribute this oriental invention to the Romans, an inven- tion which Greek art of the perfect period did not adopt, but which seems to have passed from Assyria to the Lydians, from the Lydians to the Etruscans, from Etruria to Rome, and thence to Byzantine and modern art. Indeed, the influence of Chaldsean and Assyrian art was very much more extensive and far-reaching than that of the art of Egypt; it made itself felt on the one hand in Persia; on the other over a great part of Asia Minor.
Persian art is, strictly speaking, only the official art of the dynasty of the Achasmenides, which began with Cyrus and ended with Darius Codoman; it lasted for barely two centuries B. Its most important relics are the ruins of the palaces of Susa and Persepolis. Bas-reliefs, statues, and jewels of a peculiar style, bearing inscriptions as yet indecipherable, have been dis- covered in the vast region lying between Northern Syria and Armenia Fig. These objects have been at- tributed to the Hittites, a people men- tioned in the Bible, who maintained relations alternately peaceful and hos- tile with the Egyptians and Assyrians, FIG.
Frieze of enamelled brick, in the Louvre. Hittite art is saturated with Assyrian influences ; those of Egypt are much less perceptible. It lacked vitality as it lacked orig- inality, and hardly de- serves men- tion in such a rapid sur- vey as the present. The coast of Syria, with which the neighbour- ing island of Cyprus was closely connected, was inhabited by the Phoenicians. Attempts have been made to show that the Phcenicians, a race of skilful traders, were the masters of the Greeks; an art founded on that of Assyria and of Egypt has been at- tributed to them, and of this art, it has been maintained, traces have been found, not only in Greece, but in Italy, in Central Europe, and even in Gaul.
The whole assumption is baseless. A brisk trade in decorative objects was undoubtedly carried on by the Phoenicians; but for the last hundred years, students have vainly sought any traces of that Phoenician art, the existence of which was first suggested to them at the beginning of this period. Both in Phcenicia and Cyprus, the Phoenicians of B. We may allow that they showed a certain skill in the manufacture of coloured glass and of engraved metal cups; but these industrial products, the designs of which were inspired by foreign models, are not sufficient to constitute a national art.
The Biblical descriptions of the Temple of Jerusalem and Solomon's palace show that these monuments were Assyrian in character; prominent among the decorative motives were the Kherubiin, which are identical with the winged bulls of Assyria. The word cherub, which is now used to signify an angel, a winged child, is an Assyrian term which passed into the Hebrew tongue, and thence into all modern languages.
It was like- wise from Assyria, or rather from Chaldaea, that modern art received at the hands of the Greeks, those winged figures of men and animals of which it still makes so liberal a use, especially in decoration. The first gave ex- pieces during the mediaeval ages in pression mainly to the idea of dura- Europe. The most ancient Chinese tion, the second to that of strength; sculptures of ascertained date, were it was reserved to Greek art to realise executed about the year of our the idea of beauty.
They show the influences of a If I pass over the art of India and of bastard form of Greek art, which had China it is because the great antiquity spread from the shores of the Black attributed to these is a delusion. English translation, London, — Maspero, Uisloire aticienne des Peuples de rOrient, 3 vols. Bezold, Niniveh und Babylon, Bielefeld, Lange's work, written in Danish, has been translated into German. Benedite, Statuette de la Dame Toui, xx. Fou- cart ; S. Chavannes, La Sculpture sur pierre en Chine, Paris, cf.
Revue Archeologique, igor, i. The islands and the coast of the jEgean Sea the Archipelago , were the seat of a very ancient civilisation which had become a mere brilliant memory by the time of Homer about years before Christ. It was not until our own day that the evidences of this civilisation were brought to light. As early as B. It was found in abun- dance in the island of Cyprus, from which, no doubt, its name was derived Kvvpos. Many vestiges of primitive industry have been discovered in this island, of a much earlier date than the imitations of Assyrian works; similar discoveries have been made in Crete, at Amorgos, and at Thera Santorin , and in certain districts on the coast of Asia and in Northern Greece Thrace, the modern Roumelia.
The products of this industry have one marked characteristic; the tendency to rep- resent, more or less rudely, the human form. Even the clay jars found often afTect the form of the body, with paunches, shoulders and necks, surmounted by indications of eyes and of a pointed nose. From the year onwards, Hein- rich Schliemann, a German who had made a fortune in America, undertook a series of important excavations at Hissarlik, on the Dardanelles, the supposed site of legendary Troy.
Be- neath the Greek city of Ilium he found six small towns, one beneath the other; the most ancient of these con- tained but a few objects made of copper, with a number of stone imple- ments. The four towns above this first contained bronze tools, and vases with incised ornament, unpainted. This town was the Troy of FIG. Priam, destroyed by the Achaeans under Agamemnon.
Thus it may fairly be said that the discoveries of archaeology confirmed the Homeric tradition in its main lines. Schliemann's excavations at Troy brought to light a vast number of objects of all kinds, among others a treasure of golden vases and orna- ments, clay jars in the shape of human figures, weights ornamented with in- cisions which mark a first step towards written characters, a little leaden figure of a nude woman, etc. But all these discoveries were eclipsed by those Schliemann himself made at Mycense and Tiryns in and In these two ancient cities mentioned by Homer, he found relics of an advanced civilisation, which bore testimony to a very original artistic taste, absolutely independent of that of Egypt and Assyria.
At Mycense, where tombs built of stone in the form of cupolas were already known to exist, Schliemann excavated royal tombs of extraordinary splendour under the great public place of the ancient city.
The faces of several skeletons were covered with mask-like sheets of gold; there were also vases of gold and silver, deli- cately wrought ornaments, bronze daggers, incised with hunting-scenes inlaid with fillets of gold and silver Fig. At Tiryns, Schliemann unearthed a palace ornamented with mural paint- ings, the best preserved of which rep- resents an acrobat or a hunter bound- ing over a galloping bull. Both at MycenK and at Tiryns, the explorer found hundreds of fragments of painted pottery of a very original character, decorated with plants, leaves, and marine animals cuttle fish, octopuses, etc.
Nothing of the sort occurs in Chaldaea or Egypt, or in central and western Europe, where geometrical decoration prevails.
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He also found a great many seals of hard stone, on which fantastic figures of men and ani- mals were engraved in a precise and FIG. In , a learned Greek, M. Tsoun- tas, explored a large tomb at Vaphio, not far from Sparta. It contained besides engraved stones and other objects, two admirable golden goblets, decorated with scenes representing the capture of wild bulls Fig. These vases are celebrated, and the bulls of Vaphio are as life-like and as well drawn as the finest productions of the Assyrian animal-painters.
Lastly, since the year , Mr. Arthur Evans has excavated at Cnos- sus, in the island of Crete, the an- cient palace which the Greek legend described as the habitation of King Minos, and called the Labyrinth. This word, which is still used to signify a complicated ar- rangement of paths and passages orig- inally meant, ac- cording to Mr. From a Fresco in the Palace of Cnossus.
Now the Palace of Cnossus was certainly the Palace of the Axe, for throughout it a two-edged axe, a religious symbol, is outlined on the walls, and it is difficult not to lose one's way in it, for like the Assyrian palaces, it shows a most perplexing tangle of corridors. This palace was decorated with a profusion of plaster bas-reliefs and paintings. These latter are amazing in their variety and freedom of style Figs. Interspersed among the life-size figures there are little scenes with nuinerous personages, among others a group of elaborately adorned women in low-cut gowns, asseinbled on a balcony.
A woman's face in profile is so modern in treat- ment that we should hesitate to attrib- ute it to the sixteenth century before Christ, if there were any room for doubt in the matter Fig. There are also hunting-scenes, landscapes, a view of a town, in short a whole series of picturesque subjects, which have come as a revelation to the art-histo- rian. Another palace similar to that of Cnossus was discovered at another point on the island of Crete, Phaestus, and successfully explored by an Italian scholar, Halbherr. Modern archaeologists indicate three periods in the distant past of pre- Homeric Greece: The Minoan Period that of Minos , or Cretan Period, of which the Island of Crete seems to have been the principal centre, cha- racterised by a rapid advance in the arts of design and of work in metal, first towards realism and afterwards towards elegance; Egyptian influences directed this development, without in- ducing servile imitation B.
The Mycenajan Period, the only one known to Schliemann, which seems, in certain respects, to have been the age of the Minoan de- cadence; it is characterised by a very original style of painted pottery, deco- rated with plants and animals b. These civilisations, form- ing a continuous development, are reflected in the poems ascribed to Homer, which received their present form towards the year b. In the interval between the Mycensan civilisation and Homer, a catastrophe nC.
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Fresco from the Palace of Cnossus Crete. Format see all Format. All Listings filter applied. Condition see all Condition. Item Location see all Item Location. Show only see all Show only. Amounts shown in italicized text are for items listed in currency other than Canadian dollars and are approximate conversions to Canadian dollars based upon Bloomberg's conversion rates. For more recent exchange rates, please use the Universal Currency Converter.
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