CHAPTER VII—AESTHETIC ART
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.