A HISTORY OF ART FOR BEGINNERS AND STUDENTS
With Complete Indexes and Numerous Illustrations
CLARA ERSKINE CLEMENT
Author of "Handbook of Legendary and Mythological Art," "Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, Architects and Their Works," "Artists of the Nineteenth Century," Etc.
New York Frederick A. Stokes Company MDCCCXCI
Copyright, 1887, by Frederick A. Stokes, Successor to White, Stokes, & Allen.
CHAPTER I. PAGE ANCIENT PAINTING, FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE CHRISTIAN ERA, 1 EGYPT, 3 ASSYRIA, 9 BABYLON, 11 ANCIENT GREECE AND ITALY, 13 MOSAICS, 34 PAINTINGS ON STONE, 36 VASE-PAINTING, 36
MEDIAEVAL PAINTING, FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA TO THE RENAISSANCE, 41 THE EARLY PERIOD, 42 THE CENTRAL, OR ROMANESQUE PERIOD, 50 THE FINAL, OR GOTHIC PERIOD, 54
PAINTING IN ITALY, FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE RENAISSANCE TO THE PRESENT CENTURY, 72
PAINTING IN FLANDERS, HOLLAND, AND GERMANY, 155
PAINTING IN SPAIN, 207
PAINTING IN FRANCE, 234
PAINTING IN ENGLAND, 249
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
PAGE Harp-player (from an Egyptian painting), 3 King Ramesses II. and his Sons Storming a Fortress (from Abousimbel), 5 Fragment of an Assyrian Tile-painting, 10 Sacrifice of Iphigenia (from a Pompeian wall-painting), 16 Etruscan Wall-painting, 22 Human Sacrifice Offered by Achilles to the Shade of Patroklos (from an Etruscan wall-painting), 24 The Aldobrandini Marriage (from a wall-painting in the Vatican), 26 Landscape Illustration to the Odyssey (from a wall-painting discovered on the Esquiline at Rome), 28 The Flight of AEneas (from a wall-painting), 30 Demeter Enthroned (from a Pompeian wall-painting), 31 Pompeian Wall-painting, 32 Nest of Cupids (from a Pompeian wall-painting), 33 Doves Seated on a Bowl (from a mosaic picture in the Capitol, Rome), 35 Niobe (from a picture on a slab of granite at Pompeii), 37 The Dodwell Vase, 38 Scene in the Lower World (from a vase of the style of Lower Italy), 39 Moses (from a painting in the Catacomb of S. Agnes), 43 Decoration of a Roof (Catacomb of S. Domitilla), 44 Justinian, Theodora, and Attendants (from a mosaic picture at S. Vitalis, Ravenna), 46 The Discovery of the Herb Mandragora (from a MS. of Dioskorides, at Vienna), 48 King David (from a window in Augsburg Cathedral), 51 Window (from the Cathedral of St. Denis), 52 Figure of Henry I. in west window of Strasbourg Cathedral, 55 Birth of the Virgin (from the Grandes Heures of the Duc de Berri), 57 The Annunciation (from the Mariale of Archbishop Arnestus of Prague), 59 Painted Window at Konigsfelden, 60 Portrait of Cimabue, 61 The Madonna of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, 63 Portrait of Dante, painted by Giotto, 65 Giotto's Campanile and the Duomo (Florence), 67 Fra Angelico (from the representation of him in the fresco of the "Last Judgment" by Fra Bartolommeo), 74 An Angel (Fra Angelico), 77 Christ (Gio. Bellini), 81 Madonna (Perugino), 83 Leonardo da Vinci, 85 The Last Supper (Da Vinci), 88 Mona Lisa (Da Vinci), 91 Portrait of Michael Angelo, 95 The Prophet Jeremiah (Michael Angelo), 101 Statue of Moses (Michael Angelo), 102 The Madonna del Sacco (Sarto), 106 Portrait of Raphael, painted by himself, 109 The Sistine Madonna (Raphael), 113 St. Cecilia Listening to the Singing of Angels (Raphael), 117 Portrait of Titian (Caracci), 122 Portrait of Lavinia (Titian), 125 Portrait of Correggio, 133 Upper Part of a Fresco by Correggio, 136 Lower Part of a Fresco by Correggio, 138 Communion of St. Jerome (Domenichino), 142 Aurora (Guido Reni), 144 Beatrice Cenci (Guido Reni), 146 The Anchorites (Van Eyck), 157 The Sibyl and the Emperor Augustus (Van der Weyden), 159 Rubens and his Second Wife, 163 The Return from Egypt (Rubens), 166 Portrait of an Officer (Hals), 178 One of Rembrandt's Portraits of Himself, 182 The Lecture on Anatomy (Rembrandt), 183 Burgomaster Meier Madonna (Holbein), 191 From Holbein's Dance of Death, 193 A Scene from Duerer's Wood Engravings of the Life of the Virgin Mary, 196 The Four Apostles (Duerer), 200 Laughing Peasant (Velasquez), 217 The Topers (Velasquez), 219 The Immaculate Conception (Murillo), 226 Arcadian Shepherds (Poussin), 235 The Sabine Women (David), 241 Death of the Duke of Guise (Delaroche), 243 Sir Joshua Reynolds, 250 The Marriage Contract (Hogarth), 253 Muscipula (Reynolds), 256 Portrait of Turner, 272 Nantes (Turner), 276 Illustration from Rogers's Poems, 285 The Slave Ship (Turner), 289 The Eagle and Dead Stag (Landseer), 297
ANCIENT PAINTING, FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE CHRISTIAN ERA.
In speaking of art we often contrast the useful or mechanical arts with the Fine Arts; by these terms we denote the difference between the arts which are used in making such things as are necessary and useful in civilized life, and the arts by which ornamental and beautiful things are made.
The fine arts are Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Poetry, and Music, and though we could live if none of these existed, yet life would be far from the pleasant experience that it is often made to be through the enjoyment of these arts.
In speaking of Painting, just here I wish to include the more general idea of pictures of various sorts, and it seems to me that while picture-making belongs to the fine or beautiful arts, it is now made a very useful art in many ways. For example, when a school-book is illustrated, how much more easily we understand the subject we are studying through the help we get from pictures of objects or places that we have not seen, and yet wish to know about. Pictures of natural scenery bring all countries before our eyes in such a way that by looking at them, while reading books of travel, we may know a great deal more about lands we have never seen, and may never be able to visit.
Who does not love pictures? and what a pleasure it is to open a magazine or book filled with fine illustrations. St. Augustine, who wrote in the fourth century after Christ, said that "pictures are the books of the simple or unlearned;" this is just as true now as then, and we should regard pictures as one of the most agreeable means of education. Thus one of the uses of pictures is that they give us a clear idea of what we have not seen; a second use is that they excite our imaginations, and often help us to forget disagreeable circumstances and unpleasant surroundings. The cultivation of the imagination is very important, because in this way we can add much to our individual happiness. Through this power, if we are in a dark, narrow street, in a house which is not to our liking, or in the midst of any unpleasant happenings, we are able to fix our thoughts upon a photograph or picture that may be there, and by studying it we are able to imagine ourselves far, far away, in some spot where nature makes everything pleasant and soothes us into forgetfulness of all that can disturb our happiness. Many an invalid—many an unfortunate one is thus made content by pictures during hours that would otherwise be wretched. This is the result of cultivating the perceptive and imaginative faculties, and when once this is done, we have a source of pleasure within ourselves and not dependent on others which can never be taken from us.
It often happens that we see two persons who do the same work and are situated in the same way in the world who are very different in their manner; one is light-hearted and happy, the other heavy and sad. If you can find out the truth, it will result that the sad one is matter-of-fact, and has no imagination—he can only think of his work and what concerns him personally; but the merry one would surprise you if you could read his thoughts—if you could know the distances they have passed over, and what a vast difference there is between his thought and his work. So while it is natural for almost every one to exclaim joyfully at the beauty of pictures, and to enjoy looking at them simply, I wish my readers to think of their uses also, and understand the benefits that may be derived from them. I have only hinted at a few of these uses, but many others will occur to you.
When pictures are composed of beautiful colors, such as we usually think of when we speak of the art of painting, the greatest charm of pictures is reached, and all civilized people have admired and encouraged this art. It is true that the remains of ancient art now existing are principally those of architecture or sculpture, yet there are a sufficient number of pictures in color to prove how old the art of painting is.
Egyptian painting is principally found on the walls of temples and tombs, upon columns and cornices, and on small articles found in burial places. There is no doubt that it was used as a decoration; but it was also intended to be useful, and was so employed as to tell the history of the country;—its wars, with their conquests and triumphs, and the lives of the kings, and many other stories, are just as distinctly told by pictures as by the hieroglyphics or Egyptian writings. We can scarcely say that Egyptian painting is beautiful; but it certainly is very interesting.
The Egyptians had three kinds of painting: one on flat surfaces, a second on bas-reliefs, or designs a little raised and then colored, and a third on designs in intaglio, or hollowed out from the flat surface and the colors applied to the figures thus cut out. They had no knowledge of what we call perspective, that is, the art of representing a variety of objects on one flat surface, and making them appear to be at different distances from us—and you will see from the illustrations given here that their drawing and their manner of expressing the meaning of what they painted were very crude. As far as the pictorial effect is concerned, there is very little difference between the three modes of Egyptian painting; their general appearance is very nearly the same.
The Egyptian artist sacrificed everything to the one consideration of telling his story clearly; the way in which he did this was sometimes very amusing, such as the making one man twice as tall as another in order to signify that he was of high position, such as a king or an officer of high rank. When figures are represented as following each other, those that are behind are frequently taller than those in front, and sometimes those that are farthest back are ranged in rows, with the feet of one row entirely above the heads of the others. This illustration of the storming of a fort by a king and his sons will show you what I mean. The sons are intended to be represented as following the father, and are in a row, one above the other (Fig. 2).
For the representation of water, a strip of blue filled in with perpendicular zigzag black lines was used. From these few facts you can understand how unformed and awkward Egyptian pictures seem if we compare them with the existing idea of what is beautiful. There appear to have been certain fixed rules for the use of colors, and certain objects were always painted in the colors prescribed for them. The background of a picture was always of a single, solid color; Egyptian men were painted in a reddish brown, and horses were of the same shade; women were generally yellow, sometimes a lighter brown than the men; negroes were black, the Asiatic races yellow, and but one instance is known of a white skin, blue eyes, and yellow hair. The draperies about the figures were painted in pleasing colors, and were sometimes transparent, so that the figures could be seen through them.
The execution of Egyptian paintings was very mechanical. One set of workmen prepared the plaster on the wall for the reception of the colors; another set drew all the outlines in red; then, if chiselling was to be done, another class performed this labor; and, finally, still others put on the colors. Of course nothing could be more matter-of-fact than such painting as this, and under such rules an artist of the most lofty genius and imagination would find it impossible to express his conceptions in his work. We know all this because some of these pictures exist in an unfinished condition, and are left in the various stages of execution; then, too, there are other pictures of the painters at their work, and all these different processes are shown in them. The outline drawing is the best part of Egyptian painting, and this is frequently very cleverly done.
As I have intimated, the greatest value of Egyptian painting is that it gives us a clear record of the habits and customs of a very ancient people—of a civilization which has long since passed away, and of which we should have a comparatively vague and unsatisfactory notion but for this picture-history of it. The religion, the political history, and the domestic life of the ancient Egyptians are all placed before us in these paintings. Through a study of them we know just how they hunted and fished, gathered their fruits, tilled the soil, and cooked the food, played games, danced, and practised gymnastics, conducted their scenes of festivity and mourning—in short, how they lived under all circumstances. Thus you see that Egyptian painting is a very important example of the way in which pictures can teach us; you will also notice that it is not even necessary that they should be pretty in order that we may learn from them.
Another use made of Egyptian painting was the illustration of the papyrus rolls upon which historical and other documents were written. These rolls, found in the tombs, are now placed in museums and collections of curious things; the paintings upon them may be called the oldest book illustrations in the world. Sometimes a single color is used, such as red or black; but others are in a variety of colors which have been put on with a brush. Indeed, some rolls exist which have pictures only, and are entirely without hieroglyphics or writing characters; one such is more than twenty yards long, and contains nothing but pictures of funeral ceremonies.
The ancient Egyptians were so serious a people that it is a pleasant surprise to find that some of these pictures are intended for jokes and satires, somewhat like those of the comic papers of to-day; for example, there is one in the British Museum, London, representing cats and rats fighting, which is intended to ridicule the soldiers and heroes of the Egyptian army.
One cannot study Egyptian painting without feeling sorry for the painters; for in all the enormous amount of work done by them no one man was recognized—no one is now remembered. We know some of the names of great Egyptian architects which are written in the historical rolls; but no painter's name has been thus preserved. The fact that no greater progress was made is a proof of the discouraging influences that must have been around these artists, for it is not possible that none of them had imagination or originality: there must have been some whose souls were filled with poetic visions, for some of the Egyptian writings show that poetry existed in ancient Egypt. But of what use could imagination be to artists who were governed by the laws of a narrow priesthood, and hedged about by a superstitious religion which even laid down rules for art?
For these reasons we know something of Egyptian art and nothing of Egyptian artists, and from all these influences it follows that Egyptian painting is little more than an illuminated alphabet or a child's picture-history. In the hieroglyphics, or writing characters of Egypt, it often occurs that small pictures of certain animals or other objects stand for whole words, and it appears that this idea was carried into Egyptian painting, which by this means became simply a picture chronicle, and never reached a point where it could be called truly artistic or a high art.
The remains of Assyrian painting are so few that they scarcely serve any other purpose than to prove that the Assyrians were accustomed to decorate their walls with pictures. Sometimes the walls were prepared with plaster, and the designs were painted on that; in other cases the painting was done upon the brick itself. The paintings on plaster were usually on the inner walls, and many of these which have been discovered during the excavations have disappeared when exposed to the air after their long burial from the sight and knowledge of the world.
Speaking of these pictures, the writer on art, J. Oppert, says that some paintings were found in the Palace of Sargon; they represented gods, lions, rosettes, and various other designs; but when he reached Nineveh, one year after these discoveries, the pictures had all disappeared—the colors which had been buried twenty-five hundred years lasted but a few days after they were uncovered.
Assyrian tile-painting was more durable than the wall-painting; but in all the excavations that have been made these have been found only in fragments, and from these fragments no complete picture has been put together. The largest one was found at Nimrud, and our illustration is taken from it. It represents a king, as we know by the tiara he wears, and two servants who follow him. The pictures to which the existing fragments belong could not have been large: the figures in our picture are but nine inches high. A few pieces have been found which must have belonged to larger pictures, and there is one which shows a part of a face belonging to a figure at least three feet high; but this is very unusual.
The Assyrian paintings have a broad outline which is of a lighter color than the rest of the picture; it is generally white or yellow. There are very few colors used in them. This does not accord with our notions of the dresses and stuffs of the Assyrians, for we suppose that they were rich and varied in color—probably they had so few pigments that they could not represent in their paintings all the colors they knew.
No one can give a very satisfactory account of Assyrian painting; but, judging from the little of it which remains, and from the immense number of Assyrian sculptures which exist, we may conclude that the chief aim of Assyrian artists was to represent each object they saw with absolute realism. The Dutch painters were remarkable for this trait and for the patient attention which they gave to the details of their work, and for this reason Oppert has called the Assyrians the Dutchmen of antiquity.
In Babylon, in the sixth century B.C., under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, the art of tile-painting reached a high state of perfection. The Babylonians had no such splendid alabaster as had the Assyrians, neither had they lime-stone; so they could not make fine sculptured slabs, such as are found at Nineveh and in other Assyrian ruins. But the Babylonians had a fine clay, and they learned how to use it to the best advantage. The city of Babylon shone with richly colored tiles, and one traveller writes: "By the side of Assyria, her colder and severer sister of the North, Babylon showed herself a true child of the South,—rich, glowing, careless of the rules of taste, only desiring to awaken admiration by the dazzling brilliance of her appearance."
Many of the Babylonish tiles are in regular, set patterns in rich tints; some are simply in solid colors. These last are found in the famous terrace-temple of Borsippe, near Babylon. We know from ancient writings that there were decorative paintings in Babylon which represented hunting scenes and like subjects, and, according to the prophet Ezekiel, chap. xxiii., verse 14, there were "men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity." Some writers assume that this must have been a description of tapestries; but most authorities believe them to have been glazed tile-paintings.
A whole cargo of fragments of Babylonish tile-paintings was once collected for the gallery of the Louvre at Paris, and, when on board a ship and ready to be sent away, by some accident the whole was sunk. From the descriptions of them which were written, we find that there were portions of pictures of human faces and other parts of the body, of animals, mountains, and forests, of water, walls, and trees.
Judging from what still remains, the art of painting was far less important and much less advanced among the Eastern or Oriental nations than were those of architecture and sculpture. It is very strange that these peoples, who seem to have observed nature closely, and to have mastered the mathematical sciences, made no steps toward the discovery of the laws of perspective; neither did they know how to give any expression of thought or feeling to the human face. In truth, their pictures were a mere repetition of set figures, and were only valuable as pieces of colored decorations for walls, adding a pleasing richness and variety by their different tints, but almost worthless as works of art.
ANCIENT GREECE AND ITALY.
The painting of Greece and that of ancient Italy are so much the same that it is almost impossible to speak of them separately; the art of painting was carried from Greece to Italy by the Etruscans, and the art of ancient Rome was simply that of Greece transplanted. If Greek artists were employed by Romans, certainly their works were Greek; and if Romans painted they aimed to imitate the Greeks exactly, so that Italian painting before the time of the Christian era must be considered together with that of Greece.
In architecture and sculpture the ancient Greeks accepted what had been done by the Egyptians and Assyrians as a foundation, and went on to perfect the work of the older nations through the aid of poetic and artistic imaginations. But in painting the Greeks followed nothing that had preceded them. They were the first to make pictures which were a life-like reproduction of what they saw about them: they were the first to separate painting from sculpture, and to give it such importance as would permit it to have its own place, quite free from the influence of any other art, and in its own way as grand and as beautiful as its sister arts.
There are writers who trace the origin and progress of Greek painting from the very earliest times; but I shall begin with Apollodorus, who is spoken of as the first Greek painter worthy of fame, because he was the first one who knew how to make his pictures appear to be real, and to follow the rules of perspective so as to have a background from which his figures stood out, and to shade his colors and soften his outlines. He was very famous, and was called skiagraphos, which means shadow painter.
Apollodorus was an Athenian, and lived at about the close of the fifth century B.C. Although he was a remarkable artist then, we must not fancy that his pictures would have satisfied our idea of the beautiful—in fact, Pliny, the historian, who saw his pictures six hundred years later, at Pergamos, says that Apollodorus was but the gatekeeper who threw open the gates of painting to the famous artists who lived after him.
Zeuxis was a pupil of Apollodorus, and a great artist also. He was born at Heraclea, probably in Lower Italy. When young he led a wandering life; he studied at Athens under Apollodorus, and settled in Ephesus. He was in the habit of putting his pictures on exhibition, and charging an admittance fee, just as artists do now: he called himself "the unsurpassable," and said and did many vain and foolish things. Near the end of his life he considered his pictures as beyond any price, and so gave them away. Upon one of his works he wrote, "Easier to carp at than to copy." It is said that he actually laughed himself to death from amusement at one of his own pictures, which represented an old woman.
Zeuxis had a rival in the painter Parrhasius, and their names are often associated. On one occasion they made trial of their artistic skill. Zeuxis painted a bunch of grapes so naturally that the birds came to peck at them. Then Parrhasius painted a hanging curtain, and when his picture was exposed to the public Zeuxis asked him to draw aside his curtain, fully believing it to be of cloth and concealing a picture behind it. Thus it was judged that Parrhasius was the best artist, for he had deceived Zeuxis, while the latter had only deceived the birds.
From these stories it appears that these artists tried to imitate objects with great exactness. Parrhasius, too, was a vain man, and went about in a purple robe with a gold wreath about his head and gold clasps on his sandals; he painted his own portrait, and called it the god Hermes, or Mercury; he wrote praises of himself in which he called himself by many high-sounding names, for all of which he was much ridiculed by others.
However, both these artists were surpassed by Timanthes, according to the ancient writers, who relate that he engaged in a trial of skill with Parrhasius, and came off the victor in it. The fame of his picture of the "Sacrifice of Iphigenia" was very great, and its one excellence seems to have been in the varied expression of its faces. The descriptions of this great work lead to the belief that this Pompeian wall-painting, from which we give a cut, closely resembles that of Timanthes, which no longer exists.
The story of Iphigenia says that when her father, King Agamemnon, killed a hart which was sacred to Diana, or Artemis, that goddess becalmed his fleet so that he could not sail to Troy. Then the seer, Calchas, advised the king to sacrifice his daughter in order to appease the wrath of Diana. Agamemnon consented; but it is said that the goddess was so sorry for the maiden that she bore her away to Tauris, and made her a priestess, and left a hart to be sacrificed instead of Iphigenia. In our cut you see Calchas on the right; two men are bearing the maiden to her doom, while her father stands on the left with his head veiled from sight (Fig. 4).
Zeuxis, Parrhasius, and Timanthes belonged to the Ionian school of painting, which flourished during the Peloponnesian war. This school was excelled by that of Sikyon, which reached its highest prosperity between the end of the Peloponnesian war and the death of Alexander the Great. The chief reason why this Dorian school at Sikyon was so fine was that here, for the first time, the pupils followed a regular course of study, and were trained in drawing and mathematics, and taught to observe nature with the strictest attention. The most famous master of this school was Pausias; some of his works were carried to Rome, where they were much admired. His picture of the garland-weaver, Glykera, gained him a great name, and by it he earned the earliest reputation as a flower-painter that is known in the history of art.
Nikomachos, who lived at Thebes about 360 B.C., was famous for the rapidity with which he painted pictures that were excellent in their completeness and beauty. Aristides, the son or brother of Nikomachos, was so good an artist that Attalus, king of Pergamos, offered more than twenty thousand pounds, or about one hundred thousand dollars, for his picture of Dionysus, or Bacchus. This wonderful picture was carried to Rome, and preserved in the temple of Ceres; but it no longer exists. Euphranor was another great painter, and was distinguished for his power to give great expression to the faces and a manly force to the figures which he painted.
Nikias, the Athenian, is said to have been so devoted to his art that he could think of nothing else: he would ask his servants if he had bathed or eaten, not being able to remember for himself. He was very rich, and when King Ptolemy of Egypt offered him more than sixty thousand dollars for his picture of Ulysses in the under-world, he refused this great sum, and gave the painting to his native city. Nikias seems to have greatly exalted and respected his art, for he contended that painters should not fritter away time and talent on insignificant subjects, but ought rather to choose some grand event, such as a battle or a sea-fight. His figures of women and his pictures of animals, especially those of dogs, were much praised. Some of his paintings were encaustic, that is to say, the colors were burned in; thus they must have been made on plaster or pottery of some sort. Nikias outlived Alexander the Great, and saw the beginning of the school of painters to which the great Apelles belonged—that which is called the Hellenic school, in which Greek art reached its highest point.
Apelles was the greatest of all Greek painters. He was born at Kolophon; but as he made his first studies at Ephesus he has been called an Ephesian: later he studied in the school of Sikyon, but even when a pupil there he was said to be the equal of all his instructors. Philip of Macedon heard of his fame, and persuaded Apelles to remove to his capital city, which was called Pella. While there Apelles became the friend of the young Alexander, and when the latter came to the throne he made Apelles his court-painter, and is said to have issued an edict forbidding all other artists from painting his portrait. Later on Apelles removed to Ephesus.
During the early part of his artistic life Apelles did little else than paint such pictures as exalted the fame of Philip, and afterward that of Alexander. He painted many portraits of both these great men; for one of Alexander he received nearly twenty-five thousand dollars; in it the monarch was represented as grasping the thunderbolt, as Jupiter might have done, and the hand appeared to be stretched out from the picture. This portrait was in the splendid temple of Diana, or Artemis, at Ephesus. Alexander was accustomed to say of it, "There are two Alexanders, one invincible, the living son of Philip—the other immutable, the picture of Apelles."
Later in his life Apelles painted many pictures of mythological subjects. He visited Alexandria, in Egypt; he did not win the favor of King Ptolemy, and his enemies in the Egyptian court played cruel practical jokes upon him. On one occasion he received an invitation to a feast at which the king had not desired his presence. The monarch was angry; but Apelles told him the truth, and appeased his wrath by sketching on the wall the exact likeness of the servant who had carried the invitation to him. However, Ptolemy remained unfavorable to him, and Apelles painted a great picture, called Calumny, in which he represented those who had been his enemies, and thus held them up to the scorn of the world. Apelles visited Rhodes and Athens, but is thought to have died in the island of Kos, where he had painted two very beautiful pictures of the goddess Venus. One of these is called the Venus Anadyomene, or Venus rising from the sea. The emperor Augustus carried this picture to Rome, and placed so high a value on it that he lessened the tribute-money of the people of Kos a hundred talents on account of it. This sum was about equal to one hundred thousand dollars of our money.
The art of Apelles was full of grace and sweetness, and the finish of his pictures was exquisite. The saying, "leave off in time," originated in his criticism of Protogenes, of whom he said that he was his superior except that he did not know when to leave off, and by too much finishing lessened the effect of his work. Apelles was modest and generous: he was the first to praise Protogenes, and conferred a great benefit upon the latter by buying up his pictures, and giving out word that he was going to sell them as his own. Apelles was never afraid to correct those who were ignorant, and was equally ready to learn from any one who could teach him anything. It is said that on one occasion, when Alexander was in his studio, and talked of art, Apelles advised him to be silent lest his color-grinder should laugh at him. Again, when he had painted a picture, and exposed it to public view, a cobbler pointed out a defect in the shoe-latchet; Apelles changed it, but when the man next proceeded to criticise the leg of the figure, Apelles replied, "Cobbler, stick to your last." These sayings have descended to our own day, and have become classical. All these anecdotes from so remote a time are in a sense doubtful; but they are very interesting—young people ought to be familiar with them, but it is also right to say that they are not known to be positively true.
Protogenes of Rhodes, to whom Apelles was so friendly, came to be thought a great painter. It is said that when Demetrius made war against Rhodes the artist did not trouble himself to leave his house, which was in the very midst of the enemy's camp. When questioned as to his fearlessness he replied, "Demetrius makes war against the Rhodians, and not against the Arts." It is also said that after hearing of this reply Demetrius refrained from burning the town, in order to preserve the pictures of Protogenes.
The ancient writers mention many other Greek painters, but none as important as those of whom we have spoken. Greek painting never reached a higher point than it had gained at the beginning of the Hellenistic age. Every kind of painting except landscape-painting had been practised by Greek artists; but that received no attention until figure-painting had declined. Vitruvius mentions that the ancients had some very important wall-paintings consisting of simple landscapes, and that others had landscape backgrounds with figures illustrating scenes from the poems of Homer. But we have no reason to believe that Greek landscape-painting was ever more than scenic or decorative work, and thus fell far short of what is now the standard for such painting.
The painting of the early Romans was principally derived from or through the early Etruscans, and the Etruscans are believed to have first learned their art from Greek artists, who introduced plastic art into Italy as early as B.C. 655, when Demaratus was expelled from Corinth—and later, Etruscan art was influenced by the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia. So it is fair to say that Etruscan art and early Roman art were essentially Greek art. The earliest artists who are known to have painted in Rome had Greek names, such as Ekphantos, Damophilos, and Gargasos. Later on in history there are painters mentioned with Latin names, but there is little of interest related concerning them; in truth, Ludius (who is also called by various authors Tadius and Studius) is the only really interesting ancient Roman painter of whom we know. He lived in the time of Augustus, and Pliny said of him: "Ludius, too, who lived in the age of the divine Augustus, must not be cheated of his fame. He was the first to bring in a singularly delightful fashion of wall-painting—villas, colonnades, examples of landscape-gardening, woods and sacred groves, reservoirs, straits, rivers, coasts, all according to the heart's desire—and amidst them passengers of all kinds on foot, in boats, driving in carriages, or riding on asses to visit their country properties; furthermore fishermen, bird-catchers, hunters, vintagers; or, again, he exhibits stately villas, to which the approach is through a swamp, with men staggering under the weight of the frightened women whom they have bargained to carry on their shoulders; and many another excellent and entertaining device of the same kind. The same artist also set the fashion of painting views—and that wonderfully cheap—of seaside towns in broad daylight."
We cannot think that Ludius was the first painter, though he may have been the first Roman painter, who made this sort of pictures, and he probably is the only one of whose work any part remains. Brunn and other good authorities believe that the wall-painting of Prima Porta, in Rome, was executed by Ludius. It represents a garden, and covers the four walls of a room. It is of the decorative order of painting, as Pliny well understood, for he speaks of the difference between the work of Ludius and that of the true artists who painted panel pictures and not wall-paintings. After the time of Ludius we can give no trustworthy account of any fine, Roman painter.
The works of the ancient painters which still remain in various countries are wall-paintings, paintings on vases, mosaics, paintings on stone, and certain so-called miniatures; and besides these principal works there are many small articles, such as mirrors, toilet-cases, and other useful objects, which are decorated in colors.
We will first speak of the mural, or wall-paintings, as they are the most important and interesting remains of ancient painting. We shall only consider such as have been found in Italy, as those of other countries are few and unimportant.
The Etruscan tombs which have been opened contain many beautiful objects of various kinds, and were frequently decorated with mural pictures. They often consist of several rooms, and have the appearance of being prepared as a home for the living rather than for the dead. I shall give you no long or wordy description of them; because if what I tell you leads you to wish to know more about them, there are many excellent books describing them which you can read. So I will simply give you two cuts from these Etruscan paintings, and tell you about them.
Fig. 5 is in a tomb known as the Grotta della Querciola. The upper part represents a feast, and the lower portion a boar-hunt in a wood, which is indicated by the few trees and the little twigs which are intended to represent the underbrush of the forest. If we compare these pictures with the works of the best Italian masters, they seem very crude and almost childish in their simplicity; but, if we contrast them with the paintings of the Egyptians and Assyrians, we see that a great advance has been made since the earliest paintings of which we know were done. The pose and action of the figures and their grace of movement, as well as the folding of the draperies, are far better than anything earlier than the Greek painting of which there is any knowledge; for, as we have said, these Etruscan works are essentially Greek.
Fig. 6 belongs to a later period than the other, and is taken from a tomb at Vulci which was opened in 1857 by Francois. This tomb has seven different chambers, several of which are decorated with wall-paintings of mythological subjects. A square chamber at the end of the tomb has the most important pictures. On one side the human sacrifices which were customary at Etruscan funerals are represented: the pictures are very painful, and the terror and agony of the poor victims who are being put to death make them really repulsive to see. On an opposite wall is the painting from which our cut is taken. This represents the sacrifices made before Troy by Achilles, on account of the death of his dear friend Patroklos. The figure with the hammer is Charon, who stands ready to receive the sacrifice which is intended to win his favor. Your mythology will tell you the story, which is too long to be given here. The realism of this picture is shocking in its effect, and yet there is something about the manner of the drawing and the arrangement of the whole design that fixes our attention even while it makes us shudder.
The ancient wall-paintings which have been found in Rome are far more varied than are those of Etruria; for, while some of the Roman pictures are found in tombs, others are taken from baths, palaces, and villas. They generally belong to one period, and that is about the close of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire. Modern excavations have revealed many of these ancient paintings; but so many of them crumble and fade away so soon after they are exposed to the air, that few remain in a condition to afford any satisfaction in seeing them. But fortunately drawings have been made of nearly all these pictures before they fell into decay.
Some of the ancient paintings have been carefully removed from the walls where they were found, and placed in museums and other collections. One of the finest of these is in the Vatican, and is called the Aldobrandini Marriage. It received this name from the fact that Cardinal Aldobrandini was its first possessor after its discovery, near the Arch of Gallienus, in 1606.
As you will see from Fig. 7, from it, there are three distinct groups represented. In the centre the bride veiled, with her head modestly bowed down, is seated on a couch with a woman beside her who seems to be arranging some part of her toilet, while another stands near holding ointment and a bowl. At the head of the couch the bridegroom is seated on a threshold. The upper part of his figure is bare, and he has a garland upon his head. On the right of the picture an ante-room is represented in which are three women with musical instruments, singing sacrificial songs. To the left, in another apartment, three other women are preparing a bath. This is charming on account of the sweet, serious way in which the whole story is placed before us; but as a painting it is an inferior work of art—not in the least above the style which we should call house decoration.
Although ancient writers had spoken of landscape paintings, it was not until 1848-1850, when a series of them was discovered on the Esquiline in Rome, that any very satisfactory specimens could be shown. These pictures number eight: six are complete, of the seventh but half remains, and the eighth is in a very imperfect state. They may be called historical landscapes, because each one has a complete landscape as well as figures which tell a story. They illustrate certain passages from the Odyssey of Homer. The one from which our cut is taken shows the visit of Ulysses to the lower world. When on the wall the pictures were divided by pilasters, and finished at the top by a border or frieze. The pilasters are bright red, and the chief colors in the picture are a yellowish brown and a greenish blue. In this scene the way in which the light streams through the entrance to the lower world is very striking, and shows the many figures there with the best possible effect. Even those in the far distance on the right are distinctly seen. This collection of Esquiline wall-paintings is now in the Vatican Library.
Besides the ancient mural paintings which have been placed in the museums of Rome, there are others which still remain where they were painted, in palaces, villas, and tombs. Perhaps those in the house of Livia are the most interesting; they represent mythological stories, and one frieze has different scenes of street life in an ancient town. Though these decorations are done in a mechanical sort of painting, such as is practised by the ordinary fresco painters of our own time, yet there was sufficient artistic feeling in their authors to prevent their repeating any one design.
One circumstance proves that this class of picture was not thought very important when it was made, which is that the name of the artist is rarely found upon his work: in but one instance either in Rome or Pompeii has this occurred, namely, in a chamber which was excavated in the gardens of the Farnesina Palace at Rome, and the name is Seleucus.
We have not space to speak of all the Italian cities in which these remains are discovered, and, as Pompeii is the one most frequently visited and that in which a very large proportion of the ancient pictures have been found, I will give a few illustrations from them, and leave the subject of ancient, mural paintings there. Many of the Pompeian pictures have been removed to the Museum of Naples, though many still remain where they were first painted.
The variety of subjects at Pompeii is large: there are landscapes, hunting scenes, mythological subjects, numerous kinds of single figures, such as dancing girls, the hours, or seasons, graces, satyrs, and many others; devotional pictures, such as representations of the ancient divinities, lares, penates, and genii; pictures of tavern scenes, of mechanics at their work; rope-dancers and representations of various games, gladiatorial contests, genre scenes from the lives of children, youths, and women, festival ceremonies, actors, poets, and stage scenes, and last, but not least, many caricatures, of which I here give you an example (Fig. 9).
The largest dog is AEneas, who leads the little Ascanius by the hand and carries his father, Anchises, on his shoulder. Frequently in the ancient caricatures monkeys are made to take the part of historical and imaginary heroes.
Fig. 11 shows you how these painted walls were sometimes divided; the principal subjects were surrounded by ornamental borders, and the spaces between filled in with all sorts of little compartments. The small spaces in this picture are quite regular in form; but frequently they are of varied shapes, and give a very decorative effect to the whole work. The colors used upon these different panels, as they may be called, were usually red, yellow, black, and white—more rarely blue and green. Sometimes the entire decoration consisted of these small, variously colored spaces, divided by some graceful little border, with a very small figure, plant, or other object in the centre of each space.
Fig. 10, of Demeter, or Ceres, enthroned is an example of such devotional paintings as were placed above the altars and shrines for private worship in the houses of Pompeii, or at the street corners, just as we now see pictures and sacred figures in street shrines in Roman Catholic countries. In ancient days, as now, these pictures were often done in a coarse and careless manner, as if religious use, and not art, was the object in the mind of the artist.
Fig. 12, of a Nest of Cupids is a very interesting example of Pompeian painting, and to my mind it more nearly resembles pictures of later times than does any other ancient painting of which I know.
The pictures known as mosaics are made by fitting together bits of marble, stone, or glass of different colors and so arranging them as to represent figures and objects of various kinds, so that at a distance they have much the same effect as that of pictures painted with brush and colors. The art of making mosaics is very ancient, and was probably invented in the East, where it was used for borders and other decorations in regular set patterns. It was not until after the time of Alexander the Great that the Greeks used this process for making pictures. At first, too, mosaics were used for floors or pavements only, and the designs in them were somewhat like those of the tile pavements of our own time.
This picture of doves will give you a good idea of a mosaic; this subject is a very interesting one, because it is said to have been first made by Sosos in Pergamos. It was often repeated in later days, and that from which our cut is taken was found in the ruins of Hadrian's villa at Tivoli, near Rome; it is known as the Capitoline Doves, from the fact that it is now in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Few works of ancient art are more admired and as frequently copied as this mosaic: it is not unusual to see ladies wear brooches with this design in fine mosaic work.
A few examples of ancient mosaics which were used for wall decorations have been found; they may almost be said not to exceed a dozen; but pavement mosaics are very numerous, and are still seen in the places for which they were designed and where they have been during many centuries, as well as in museums to which they have been removed. They are so hard in outline and so mechanical in every way that they are not very attractive if we think of them as pictures, and their chief interest is in the skill and patience with which mosaic workers combine the numberless particles of one substance and another which go to make up the whole.
Mosaic pictures, as a rule, are not large; but one found at Palestrina, which is called the Nile mosaic, is six by five metres inside. Its subject is the inundation of a village on the river Nile. There are an immense number of figures and a variety of scenes in it; there are Egyptians hunting the Nile horse, a party of revellers in a bower draped with vines, bands of warriors and other groups of men occupied in different pursuits, and all represented at the season when the Nile overflows its banks. This is a very remarkable work, and it has been proved that a portion of the original is in the Berlin Museum, and has been replaced by a copy at Palestrina.
PAINTINGS ON STONE.
It is well known that much of the decoration of Greek edifices was in colors. Of course these paintings were put upon the marble and stone of which the structures were made. The Greeks also made small pictures and painted them on stone, just as canvas and panels of wood are now used. Such painted slabs have been found in Herculaneum, in Corneto, and in different Etruscan tombs; but the most important and satisfactory one was found at Pompeii in 1872. Since then the colors have almost vanished; but Fig. 14, from it, will show you how it appeared when found. It represents the mythological story of the punishment of Niobe, and is very beautiful in its design.
Vase-painting was another art very much practised by the ancients. So much can be said of it that it would require more space than we can give for its history even in outline. So I shall only say that it fills an important place in historic art, because from the thousands of ancient vases that have been found in one country and another, much has been learned concerning the history of these lands and the manners and customs of their people; occasionally inscriptions are found upon decorated vases which are of great value to scholars who study the history of the past.
The Dodwell vase shows you the more simple style of decoration which was used in the earlier times. Gradually the designs came to be more and more elaborate, until whole stories were as distinctly told by the pictures on vases as if they had been written out in books. The next cut, which is made from a vase-painting, will show what I mean.
The subject of Fig. 16 is connected with the service of the dead, and shows a scene in the under world, such as accorded with ancient religious notions. In the upper portion the friends of the deceased are grouped around a little temple. Scholars trace the manufacture of these vases back to very ancient days, and down to its decline, about two centuries before Christ. I do not mean that vase-painting ceased then, for its latest traces come down to 65 B.C.; but like all other ancient arts, it was then in a state of decadence. Though vase-painting was one of the lesser arts, its importance can scarcely be overestimated, and it fully merits the devoted study and admiration which it receives from those who are learned in its history.
From what we know of ancient Greek painting we may believe that this art first reached perfection in Greece. If we could see the best works of Apelles, who reached the highest excellence of any Greek painter, we might find some lack of the truest science of the art when judged by more modern standards; but the Greeks must still be credited with having been the first to create a true art of painting. After the decline of Greek art fifteen centuries elapsed before painting was again raised to the rank which the Greeks had given it, and if, according to our ideas, the later Italian painting is in any sense superior to the Greek, we must at least admit that the study of the works of antiquity which still remained in Italy, excited the great masters of the Renaissance to the splendid achievements which they attained.
MEDIAEVAL PAINTING, FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA TO THE RENAISSANCE.
The Middle Ages extend from the latter part of the fifth century to the time of the Renaissance, or about the fifteenth century. The painting of this period has little to attract attention if regarded only from an artistic stand-point, for we may truly say that, comparing it with the Greek art which had preceded it, or with the Italian art which followed it, that of the Middle Ages had no claim to the beautiful. On the other hand, it is full of interest to students, because it has its part in the history of art; therefore I shall give a mere outline of it, so that this link in the chain which unites ancient and modern painting may not be entirely wanting in our book.
Early mediaeval painting, down to about A.D. 950, consists principally of paintings in burial-places, mosaics (usually in churches), and of miniatures, or the illustration and illumination of MSS., which were the books of that time, and were almost without exception religious writings. This period is called the Early Period of the Middle Ages, and the pictures are often called the works of Early Christian Art.
About 1050 a revival of intellectual pursuits began in some parts of Europe, and from that time it may be said that the Renaissance, or new birth of art and letters, was in its A B Cs, or very smallest beginnings. The period between 950 and 1250 is often called the Central or Romanesque Period of the Middle Ages, and it was during this time that glass-painting originated; it is one of the most interesting features of art in mediaeval times.
From 1250 to 1400 comes the Final or Gothic Period of the Middle Ages, and this has some very interesting features which foretell the coming glory of the great Renaissance.
THE EARLY PERIOD.
The paintings of the catacombs date from the third and fourth centuries after Christ. The catacombs, or burial-places of the early Christians, consist of long, narrow, subterranean passages, cut with regularity, and crossing each other like streets in a city. The graves are in the sides of these passages, and there are some larger rooms or chambers into which the narrow passages run. There are about sixty of the catacombs in and near Rome; they are generally called by the name of some saint who is buried in them. The paintings are in the chambers, of which there are sometimes several quite near each other. The reason for their being in these underground places was that Christians were so persecuted under the Romans, that they were obliged to do secretly all that they did as Christians, so that no attention should be attracted to them.
The principal characteristics of these pictures are a simple majesty and earnestness of effect; perhaps spirituality is the word to use, for by these paintings the early Christians desired to express their belief in the religion of Christ, and especially in the immortality of the soul, which was a very precious doctrine to them. The catacombs of Rome were more numerous and important than those of any other city.
Many of the paintings in the catacombs had a symbolic meaning, beyond the plainer intention which appeared at the first sight of them: you will know what I mean when I say that not only was this picture of Moses striking the rock intended to represent an historical fact in the life of Moses, but the flowing water was also regarded as a type of the blessing of Christian baptism.
The walls of the chambers of the catacombs are laid out in such a manner as to have the effect of decorated apartments, just as was done in the pagan tombs, and sometimes the pictures were a strange union of pagan and Christian devices.
The above cut, from the Catacomb of S. Domitilla, has in the centre the pagan god Orpheus playing his lyre, while in the alternate compartments of the border are the following Christian subjects: 1, David with the Sling; 2, Moses Striking the Rock; 3, Daniel in the Lion's Den; 4, The Raising of Lazarus. The other small divisions have pictures of sacrificial animals. These two cuts will give you an idea of the catacomb wall-paintings.
The mosaics of the Middle Ages were of a purely ornamental character down to the time of Constantine. Then, when the protection of a Christian emperor enabled the Christians to express themselves without fear, the doctrines of the church and the stories of the life of Christ and the histories of the saints, as well as many other instructive religious subjects, were made in mosaics, and placed in prominent places in churches and basilicas. Mosaics are very durable, and many belonging to the early Christian era still remain.
The mosaics at Ravenna form the most connected series, and are the best preserved of those that still exist. While it is true in a certain sense that Rome was always the art centre of Italy, it is also true that at Ravenna the works of art have not suffered from devastation and restoration as have those of Rome. After the invasion of the Visigoths in A.D. 404, Honorius transferred the imperial court to Ravenna, and that city then became distinguished for its learning and art. The Ravenna mosaics are so numerous that I shall only speak of one series, from which I give an illustration (Fig. 19).
This mosaic is in the church of S. Vitalis, which was built between A.D. 526 and 547. In the dome of the church there is a grand representation of Christ enthroned; below Him are the sacred rivers of Paradise; near Him are two angels and S. Vitalis, to whom the Saviour is presenting a crown; Bishop Ecclesius, the founder of the church, is also represented near by with a model of the church in his hand.
On a lower wall there are two pictures in which the Emperor Justinian and the Empress Theodosia are represented: our cut is from one of these, and shows the emperor and empress in magnificent costumes, each followed by a train of attendants. This emperor never visited Ravenna; but he sent such rich gifts to this church that he and his wife are represented as its donors.
After the time of Justinian (A.D. 527-565) mosaics began to be less artistic, and those of the later time degenerated, as did everything else during the Middle or Dark Ages, and at last all works of art show less and less of the Greek or Classic influence.
When we use the word miniature as an art term, it does not mean simply a small picture as it does in ordinary conversation; it means the pictures executed by the hand of an illuminator or miniator of manuscripts, and he is so called from the minium or cinnabar which he used in making colors.
In the days of antiquity, as I have told you in speaking of Egypt, it was customary to illustrate manuscripts, and during the Middle Ages this art was very extensively practised. Many monks spent their whole lives in illuminating religious books, and in Constantinople and other eastern cities this art reached a high degree of perfection. Some manuscripts have simple borders and colored initial letters only; sometimes but a single color is used, and is generally red, from which comes our word rubric, which means any writing or printing in red ink, and is derived from the Latin rubrum, or red. This was the origin of illumination or miniature-painting, which went on from one step to another until, at its highest state, most beautiful pictures were painted in manuscripts in which rich colors were used on gold or silver backgrounds, and the effect of the whole was as rich and ornamental as it is possible to imagine.
Many of these old manuscripts are seen in museums, libraries, and various collections; they are very precious and costly, as well as interesting; their study is fascinating, for almost every one of the numberless designs that are used in them has its own symbolic meaning. The most ancient, artistic miniatures of which we know are those on a manuscript of a part of the book of Genesis; it is in the Imperial Library at Vienna, and was made at the end of the fifth century. In the same collection there is a very extraordinary manuscript, from which I give an illustration.
This manuscript is a treatise on botany, and was written by Dioskorides for his pupil, the Princess Juliana Anicia, a granddaughter of the Emperor Valentine III. As this princess died at Constantinople A.D. 527, this manuscript dates from the beginning of the sixth century. This picture from it represents Dioskorides dressed in white robes and seated in a chair of gold; before him stands a woman in a gold tunic and scarlet mantle, who represents the genius of discovery; she presents the legendary mandrake root, or mandragora, to the learned man, while between them is the dog that has pulled the root, and falls dead, according to the fabulous story. This manuscript was painted by a masterly hand, and is curious and interesting; the plants, snakes, birds, and insects must have been painted from nature, and the whole is most skilfully done.
During the Middle Ages the arts as practised in Rome were carried into all the different countries in which the Romans made conquests or sent their monks and missionaries to establish churches, convents, and schools. Thus the mediaeval arts were practised in Gaul, Spain, Germany, and Great Britain. No wall-paintings or mosaics remain from the early German or Celtic peoples; but their illuminated manuscripts are very numerous: miniature-painting was extensively done in Ireland, and many Irish manuscripts remain in the collections of Great Britain.
When Charlemagne became the king of the Franks in 768, there was little knowledge of any art among his northern subjects; in 800 he made himself emperor of the Romans, also, and when the Franks saw all the splendor of Rome and other parts of Italy, it was not difficult for the great emperor to introduce the arts into the Frankish portion of his empire. All sorts of beautiful objects were carried from Italy by the Franks, and great workshops were established at Aix-la-Chapelle, the capital, and were placed under the care of Eginhard, who was skilled in bronze-casting, modelling, and other arts; he was called Bezaleel, after the builder of the Tabernacle. We have many accounts of the wall-paintings and mosaics of the Franks; but there are no remains of them that can be identified with positive accuracy.
Miniature-painting flourished under the rule of Charlemagne and his family, and reached a point of great magnificence in effect, though it was never as artistic as the work of the Italian miniators; and, indeed, gradually everything connected with art was declining in all parts of the world; and as we study its history, we can understand why the terms Dark Ages and Middle Ages are used to denote the same epoch, remarkable as it is for the decay and extinction of so many beautiful things.
THE CENTRAL, OR ROMANESQUE PERIOD.
During the Romanesque Period (950-1250) architecture was pursued according to laws which had grown out of the achievements and experiences of earlier ages, and had reached such a perfection as entitled it to the rank of a noble art. But this was not true of painting, which was then but little more than the painting of the Egyptians had been, that is, a sort of picture-writing, which was principally used to illustrate the doctrines of religion, and by this means to teach them to peoples who had no books, and could not have read them had they existed.
During all this time the art of painting was largely under the control of the priests. Some artists were priests themselves, and those who were not were under the direction of some church dignitary. Popes, bishops, abbots, and so on, were the principal patrons of art, and they suggested to the artists the subjects to be painted, and then the pictures were used for the decoration of churches and other buildings used by the religious orders. The monks were largely occupied in miniature-painting; artists frequented the monasteries, and, indeed, when they were engaged upon religious subjects, they were frequently under the same discipline as that of the monks themselves.
Next to the influence of the church came that of the court; but in a way it was much the same, for the clergy had great influence at court, and, although painting was used to serve the luxury of sovereigns and nobles, it was also true that these high personages often employed artists to decorate chapels and to paint altar-pieces for churches at their expense, for during the Romanesque period there was some painting on panels. At first these panel-pictures were placed on the front of the altar where draperies had formerly been used: later they were raised above the altar, and also put in various parts of the church. The painting of the Romanesque period was merely a decline, and there can be little more said of it than is told by that one word.
Glass-painting dates from this time. The very earliest specimens of which we know are from the eleventh century. Before that time there had been transparent mosaics made by putting together bits of colored glass, and arranging them in simple, set and ornamental patterns. Such mosaics date from the earliest days of Christianity, and were in use as soon as glass was used for windows. From ancient writings we know that some windows were made with pictures upon them as long ago as A.D. 989; but nothing now remains from that remote date.
There is a doubt as to whether glass-painting originated in France or Germany. Some French authors ascribe its invention to Germany, while some German writers accord the same honor to France. Remains of glass-painting of the eleventh century have been found in both these countries; but it is probable that five windows in the Cathedral of Augsburg date from 1065, and are a little older than any others of which we know. This picture of David is from one of them, and is probably as old as any painted window in existence.
The oldest glass-painting in France is probably a single fragment in the Cathedral of Le Mans. This cathedral was completed in 1093, but was badly burned in 1136, so that but a single piece of its windows remains; this has been inserted in a new window in the choir, and is thus preserved. With the beginning of the twelfth century, glass-painting became more frequent in Europe, and near the end of this century it was introduced into England, together with the Gothic style of architecture. Very soon a highly decorative effect was given to glass-painting, and the designs upon many windows were very much like those used in the miniatures of the same time. The stained glass in the Cathedral of St. Denis, near Paris, is very important. It dates from about 1140-1151, and was executed under the care of the famous Abbot Suger. He employed both French and German workmen, and decorated the entire length of the walls with painted windows. St. Denis was the first French cathedral in the full Gothic style of architecture. The present windows in St. Denis can scarcely be said to be the original ones, as the cathedral has suffered much from revolutions; but some of them have been restored as nearly as possible, and our illustration (Fig. 22) will give you a good idea of what its windows were.
The stripes which run across the ground in this window are red and blue, and the leaf border is in a light tone of color. There are nine medallions; the three upper ones have simply ornamental designs upon them, and the six lower ones have pictures of sacred subjects. The one given here is an Annunciation, in which the Abbot Suger kneels at the feet of the Virgin Mary. His figure interferes with the border of the medallion in a very unusual manner.
Perhaps the most important ancient glass-painting remaining in France is that of the west front of the Cathedral of Chartres. It dates from about 1125, when this front was begun; there are three windows, and their color is far superior to the glass of a later period, which is in the same cathedral. The earliest painted glass in England dates from about 1180. Some of the windows in Canterbury Cathedral correspond to those in the Cathedral of St. Denis.
In the Strasbourg Cathedral there are some splendid remains of painted glass of the Romanesque period, although they were much injured by the bombardment of 1870. Fig. 23 is from one of the west windows, and represents King Henry I.
This is an unusually fine example of the style of the period before the more elaborate Gothic manner had arisen; the quiet regularity of the drapery and the dignified air of the whole figure is very impressive.
An entirely different sort of colored windows was used in the churches and edifices which belonged to the Cistercian order of monks. The rule of this order was severe, and while they wished to soften the light within their churches, they believed it to be wrong to use anything which denoted pomp or splendor in the decoration of the house of God. For these reasons they invented what is called the grisaille glass: it is painted in regular patterns in gray tones of color. Sometimes these windows are varied by a leaf pattern in shades of green and brown, with occasional touches of bright color; but this is used very sparingly. Some of these grisaille windows are seen in France; but the finest are in Germany in the Cathedral of Heiligenkreuz: they date from the first half of the thirteenth century.
THE FINAL, OR GOTHIC PERIOD.
The Gothic order of architecture, which was perfected during this period, had a decided influence upon the painting and sculpture of the time; but this influence was not felt until Gothic architecture had reached a high point in its development. France was now the leading country of the world, and Paris came to be the most important of all cities: it was the centre from which went forth edicts as to the customs of society, the laws of dress and conduct, and even of the art of love. From France came the codes of chivalry, and the crusades, which spread to other lands, originated there. Thus, for the time, Paris overshadowed Rome and the older centres of art, industry, and science, with a world-wide influence.
Although the painting of this period had largely the same characteristics as that of the Romanesque period, it had a different spirit, and it was no longer under the control of the clergy. Before this time, too, painters had frequently been skilled in other arts; now it became the custom for them to be painters only, and besides this they were divided into certain classes of painters, and were then associated with other craftsmen who were engaged in the trade which was connected with their art. That is, the glass-painters painted glass only, and were associated with the glass-blowers; those who decorated shields, with the shield or scutcheon makers, and so on; while the painters, pure and simple, worked at wall-painting, and a little later at panel-painting also. From this association of artists and tradesmen there grew up brotherhoods which supported their members in all difficulties, and stood by each other like friends. Each brotherhood had its altar in some church; they had their funerals and festivals in common, and from these brotherhoods grew up the more powerful societies which were called guilds. These guilds became powerful organizations; they had definite rights and duties, and even judicial authority as to such matters as belonged to their special trades.
All this led to much greater individuality among artists than had ever existed before: it came to be understood that a painter could, and had a right to, paint a picture as he wished, and was not governed by any priestly law. Religious subjects were still painted more frequently than others, and the decoration of religious edifices was the chief employment of the artists; but they worked with more independence of thought and spirit. The painters studied more from nature, and though the change was very slow, it is still true that a certain softness of effect, an easy flow of drapery, and a new grace of pose did appear, and about A.D. 1350 a new idea of the uses and aims of painting influenced artists everywhere.
About that time they attempted to represent distances, and to create different planes in their works; to reproduce such things as they represented far more exactly than they had done before, and to put them in just relations to surrounding places and objects; in a word, they seemed to awake to an appreciation of the true office of painting and to its infinite possibilities.
During this Gothic period some of the most exquisite manuscripts were made in France and Germany, and they are now the choicest treasures of their kind in various European collections.
Fig. 24, of the birth of the Virgin Mary, is from one of the most splendid books of the time which was painted for the Duke de Berry and called the Great Book of the Hours. The wealth of ornament in the border is a characteristic of the French miniatures of the time. The Germans used a simpler style, as you will see by Fig. 25, of the Annunciation.
The influence of the Gothic order of architecture upon glass-painting was very pronounced. Under this order the windows became much more important than they had been, and it was not unusual to see a series of windows painted in such pictures as illustrated the whole teaching of the doctrines of the church. It was at this time that the custom arose of donating memorial windows to religious edifices. Sometimes they were the gift of a person or a family, and the portraits of the donors were painted in the lower part of the window, and usually in a kneeling posture; at other times windows were given by guilds, and it is very odd to see craftsmen of various sorts at work in a cathedral window: such pictures exist at Chartres, Bourges, Amiens, and other places.
About A.D. 1300 it began to be the custom to represent architectural effects upon colored windows. Our cut is from a window at Konigsfelden, and will show exactly what I mean (Fig. 26).
This style of decoration was not as effective as the earlier ones had been, and, indeed, from about this time glass-painting became less satisfactory than before, from the fact that it had more resemblance to panel-painting, and so lost a part of the individuality which had belonged to it.
Wall-paintings were rare in the Gothic period, for its architecture left no good spaces where the pictures could be placed, and so the interior painting of the churches was almost entirely confined to borders and decorative patterns scattered here and there and used with great effect. In Germany and England wall-painting was more used for the decoration of castles, halls, chambers, and chapels; but as a whole mural painting was of little importance at this time in comparison with its earlier days.
About A.D. 1350 panel pictures began to be more numerous, and from this time there are vague accounts of schools of painting at Prague and Cologne, and a few remnants exist which prove that such works were executed in France and Flanders; but I shall pass over what is often called the Transitional Period, by which we mean the time in which new influences were beginning to act, and hereafter I will tell our story by giving accounts of the lives of separate painters; for from about the middle of the thirteenth century it is possible to trace the history of painting through the study of individual artists.
GIOVANNI CIMABUE, the first painter of whom I shall tell you, was born in Florence in 1240. He is sometimes called the "Father of Modern Painting," because he was the first who restored that art to any degree of the beauty to which it had attained before the Dark Ages. The Cimabui were a noble family, and Giovanni was allowed to follow his own taste, and became a painter; he was also skilled in mosaic work, and during the last years of his life held the office of master of the mosaic workers in the Cathedral of Pisa, where some of his own mosaics still remain.
Of his wall-paintings I shall say nothing except to tell you that the finest are in the Upper Church at Assisi, where one sees the first step in the development of the art of Tuscany. But I wish to tell the story of one of his panel pictures, which is very interesting. It is now in the Rucellai Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, in Florence, and it is only just in me to say that if one of my readers walked through that church and did not know about this picture, it is doubtful if he would stop to look at it—certainly he would not admire it. The story is that when Cimabue was about thirty years old he was busy in painting this picture of the Madonna Enthroned, and he would not allow any one to see what he was doing.
It happened, however, that Charles of Anjou, being on his way to Naples, stopped in Florence, where the nobles did everything in their power for his entertainment. Among other places they took him to the studio of Cimabue, who uncovered his picture for the first time. Many persons then flocked to see it, and were so loud in their joyful expressions of admiration for it that the part of the city in which the studio was has since been called the Borgo Allegri, or the "joyous quarter."
When the picture was completed the day was celebrated as a festival; a procession was formed; bands of music played joyful airs; the magistrates of Florence honored the occasion with their presence; and the picture was borne in triumph to the church. Cimabue must have been very happy at this great appreciation of his art, and from that time he was famous in all Italy.
Another madonna by this master is in the Academy of Florence, and one attributed to him is in the Louvre, in Paris.
Cimabue died about 1302, and was buried in the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Cathedral of Florence. Above his tomb these words were inscribed: "Cimabue thought himself master of the field of painting. While living, he was so. Now he holds his place among the stars of heaven."
Other artists who were important in this early time of the revival of painting were ANDREA TAFI, a mosaist of Florence, MARGARITONE OF AREZZO, GUIDO OF SIENA, and of the same city DUCCIO, the son of Buoninsegna. This last painter flourished from 1282 to 1320; his altar-piece for the Cathedral of Siena was also carried to its place in solemn procession, with the sound of trumpet, drum, and bell.
GIOTTO DI BONDONE was the next artist in whom we have an unusual interest. He was born at Del Colle, in the commune of Vespignano, probably about 1266, though the date is usually given ten years later. One of the best reasons for calling Cimabue the "Father of Painting" is that he acted the part of a father to Giotto, who proved to be so great an artist that from his time painting made a rapid advance. The story is that one day when Cimabue rode in the valley of Vespignano he saw a shepherd-boy who was drawing a portrait of one of his sheep on a flat rock, by means of a pointed bit of slate for a pencil. The sketch was so good that Cimabue offered to take the boy to Florence, and teach him to paint. The boy's father consented, and henceforth the little Giotto lived with Cimabue, who instructed him in painting, and put him to study letters under Brunetto Latini, who was also the teacher of the great poet, Dante.
The picture which we give here is from the earliest work by Giotto of which we have any knowledge. In it were the portraits of Dante, Latini, and several others. This picture was painted on a wall of the Podesta at Florence, and when Dante was exiled from that city his portrait was covered with whitewash; in 1841 it was restored to the light, having been hidden for centuries. It is a precious memento of the friendship between the great artist and the divine poet, who expressed his admiration of Giotto in these lines:—
"In painting Cimabue fain had thought To lord the field; now Giotto has the cry, So that the other's fame in shade is brought."
Giotto did much work in Florence; he also, about 1300, executed frescoes in the Lower Church at Assisi; from 1303-1306 he painted his beautiful pictures in the Cappella dell' Arena, at Padua, by which the genius of Giotto is now most fully shown. He worked at Rimini also, and about 1330 was employed by King Robert of Naples, who conferred many honors upon him, and made him a member of his own household. In 1334 Giotto was made the chief master of the cathedral works in Florence, as well as of the city fortifications and all architectural undertakings by the city authorities. He held this high position but three years, as he died on January 8, 1337.
Giotto was also a great architect, as is well known from his tower in Florence, for which he made all the designs and a part of the working models, while some of the sculptures and reliefs upon it prove that he was skilled in modelling and carving. He worked in mosaics also, and the famous "Navicella," in the vestibule of St. Peter's at Rome, was originally made by him, but has now been so much restored that it is doubtful if any part of what remains was done by Giotto's hands.
The works of Giotto are too numerous to be mentioned here, and his merits as an artist too important to be discussed in our limits; but his advance in painting was so great that he deserved the great compliment of Cennino, who said that Giotto "had done or translated the art of painting from Greek into Latin."
I shall, however, tell you of one excellent thing that he did, which was to make the representation of the crucifix far more refined and Christ-like than it had ever been. Before his time every effort had been made to picture physical agony alone. Giotto gave a gentle face, full of suffering, it is true, but also expressive of tenderness and resignation, and it would not be easy to paint a better crucifix than those of this master.
In person Giotto was so ugly that his admirers made jokes about it; but he was witty and attractive in conversation, and so modest that his friends were always glad to praise him while he lived, and since his death his fame has been cherished by all who have written of him. There are many anecdotes told of Giotto. One is that on a very hot day in Naples, King Robert said to the painter, "Giotto, if I were you, I would leave work, and rest." Giotto quickly replied, "So would I, sire, if I were you."
When the same king asked him to paint a picture which would represent his kingdom, Giotto drew an ass bearing a saddle on which were a crown and sceptre, while at the feet of the ass there was a new saddle with a shining new crown and sceptre, at which the ass was eagerly smelling. By this he intended to show that the Neapolitans were so fickle that they were always looking for a new king.
There is a story which has been often repeated which says, that in order to paint his crucifixes so well, he persuaded a man to be bound to a cross for an hour as a model; and when he had him there he stabbed him, in order to see such agony as he wished to paint. When the Pope saw the picture he was so pleased with it that he wished to have it for his own chapel; then Giotto confessed what he had done, and showed the body of the dead man. The Pope was so angry that he threatened the painter with the same death, upon which Giotto brushed the picture over so that it seemed to be destroyed. Then the Pope so regretted the loss of the crucifix that he promised to pardon Giotto if he would paint him another as good. Giotto exacted the promise in writing, and then, with a wet sponge, removed the wash he had used, and the picture was as good as before. According to tradition all famous crucifixes were drawn from this picture ever after.