A History of Greek Art eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 181 pages of information about A History of Greek Art.
fishes as anything.  The men and women are just as bad.  Their heads show no feature save, at most, a dot for the eye and a projection for the nose, with now and then a sort of tassel for the hair; their bodies are triangular, except those of the charioteers, whose shape is perhaps derived from one form of Greek shield; their thin arms, of varying lengths, are entirely destitute of natural shape; their long legs, though thigh and calf are distinguished, are only a shade more like reality than the arms.  Such incapacity on the part of the designer would be hard to explain, were he to be regarded as the direct heir of the Mycenaean culture.  But the sources of the Geometric style are probably to be sought among other tribes than those which were dominant in the days of Mycenae’s splendor.  Greek tradition tells of a great movement of population, the so-called Dorian migration, which took place some centuries before the beginning of recorded history in Greece.  If that invasion and conquest of Peloponnesus by ruder tribes from the North be a fact, then the hypothesis is a plausible one which would connect the gradual disappearance of Mycenaean art with that great change.  Geometric art, according to this theory, would have originated with the tribes which now came to the fore.

Besides the Geometric pottery and its offshoots, several other local varieties were produced in Greece in the eighth and seventh centuries.  These are sometimes grouped together under the name of “orientalizing” styles, because, in a greater or less degree, they show in their ornamentation the influence of oriental models, of which the pure Geometric style betrays no trace.  It is impossible here to describe all these local wares, but a single plate from Rhodes (Fig. 45) may serve to illustrate the degree of proficiency in the drawing of the human figure which had been attained about the end of the seventh century.  Additional interest is lent to this design by the names attached to the three men.  The combatants are Menelaus and Hector; the fallen warrior is Euphorbus.  Here for the first time we find depicted a scene from the Trojan War.  From this time on the epic legends form a large part of the repertory of the vase-painters.


Greek architecture.

The supreme achievement of Greek architecture was the temple.  In imperial Rome, or in any typical city of the Roman Empire, the most extensive and imposing buildings were secular—­basilicas, baths, amphitheaters, porticoes, aqueducts.  In Athens, on the other hand, or in any typical Greek city, there was little or nothing to vie with the temples and the sacred edifices associated with them.  Public secular buildings, of course, there were, but the little we know of them does not suggest that they often ranked among the architectural glories of the country.  Private houses were in the best period of small pretensions.  It was to the temple and its adjunct buildings that the architectural genius and the material resources of Greece were devoted.  It is the temple, then, which we have above all to study.

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A History of Greek Art from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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