A History of Greek Art eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 155 pages of information about A History of Greek Art.

The Strangford “Apollo” (Fig. 100) is of uncertain provenience, but is nearly related in style to the marbles of Aegina.  This statue, by the position of body, legs, and head, belongs to the series of “Apollo” figures discussed above (pages 129-32); but the arms were no longer attached to the sides, and were probably bent at the elbows.  The most obvious traces of a lingering archaism, besides the rigidity of the attitude, are the narrowness of the hips and the formal arrangement of the hair, with its double row of snail-shell curls.  The statue has been spoken of by a high authority [Footnote:  Newton, “Essays on Art and Archaeology” page 81.] as showing only “a meager and painful rendering of nature.”  That is one way of looking at it.  But there is another way, which has been finely expressed by Pater, in an essay on “The Marbles of Aegina”:  “As art which has passed its prime has sometimes the charm of an absolute refinement in taste and workmanship, so immature art also, as we now see, has its own attractiveness in the naivete, the freshness of spirit, which finds power and interest in simple motives of feeling, and in the freshness of hand, which has a sense of enjoyment in mechanical processes still performed unmechanically, in the spending of care and intelligence on every touch. ...  The workman is at work in dry earnestness, with a sort of hard strength of detail, a scrupulousness verging on stiffness, like that of an early Flemish painter; he communicates to us his still youthful sense of pleasure in the experience of the first rudimentary difficulties of his art overcome.” [Footnote:  Pater, “Greek Studies” page 285]

CHAPTER VII.

The transitional period of Greek sculpture. 480-450 B. C.

The term “Transitional period” is rather meaningless in itself, but has acquired considerable currency as denoting that stage in the history of Greek art in which the last steps were taken toward perfect freedom of style.  It is convenient to reckon this period as extending from the year of the Persian invasion of Greece under Xerxes to the middle of the century.  In the artistic as in the political history of this generation Athens held a position of commanding importance, while Sparta, the political rival of Athens, was as barren of art as of literature.  The other principal artistic center was Argos, whose school of sculpture had been and was destined long to be widely influential.  As for other local schools, the question of their centers and mutual relations is too perplexing and uncertain to be here discussed.

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