History of Phoenicia eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 508 pages of information about History of Phoenicia.
who do not care to arrive at a mutual understanding in order to produce in common a single work, since they do not know that it is the conception of a grand whole which constitutes greatness in art.  Hence the incompleteness of the monuments; there is not a tomb to which the relations of the deceased have deemed it fitting to give the finishing touches; there is everywhere a certain egotism, like that which in later times prevented the Mussulman monuments from enduring.  A passing pleasure in art does not induce men to finish, since finishing requires a certain stiffness of will.  In general, the ancient Phoenicians appear to have had the spirit of sculptors rather than of architects.  They did not construct in great masses, but every one laboured on his own account.  Hence there was no exact measurement, and no symmetry.  Even the capitals of the columns at Um-el-Awamid are not alike; in the portions which most evidently correspond the details are different."[686]


Recent discoveries of Phoenician artistic remains—­ Phoenician sculpture—­Statues and busts—­Animal forms—­Bas- reliefs—­Hercules and Geryon—­Scenes on sarcophagi—­ Phoenicians metal castings—­Jachin and Boaz—­Solomon’s “Molten Sea”—­Solomon’s lavers—­Statuettes in bronze—­ Embossed work upon cups and paterae—­Cup of Praeneste—­ Intaglios on cylinders and gems—­Phoenician painting—­Tinted statues—­Paintings on terra-cotta and clay.

Phoenician aesthetic art embraced sculpture, metal-casting, intaglio, and painting to a small extent.  Situated as the Phoenicians were, in the immediate neighbourhood of nations which had practised from a remote antiquity the imitation of natural forms, and brought into contact by their commercial transactions with others, with whom art of every kind was in the highest esteem—­adroit moreover with their hands, clever, active, and above all else practical—­it was scarcely possible that they should not, at an early period in their existence as a nation, interest themselves in what they found so widely appreciated, and become themselves ambitious of producing such works as they saw everywhere produced, admired, and valued.  The mere commercial instinct would lead them to supply a class of goods which commanded a high price in the world’s markets; while it is not to be supposed that they were, any more than other nations, devoid of those aesthetic propensities which find a vent in what are commonly called the “fine arts,” or less susceptible of that natural pleasure which successful imitation evokes from all who find themselves capable of it.  Thus, we might have always safely concluded, even without any material evidence of it, that the Phoenicians had an art of their own, either original or borrowed; but we are now able to do more than this.  Recent researches in Phoenicia Proper, in Cyprus, in Sardina, and elsewhere, have recovered such a mass of Phoenician artistic remains, that it is possible to form a tolerably complete idea of the character of their aesthetic art, of its methods, its aims, and its value.

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History of Phoenicia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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