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Retrospect of French Literature. 653
is at present invaluable; what would it have become if he had merely taken such parts of it as suited his plan for a basis, and raised a superstructure entirely his own 7 - FINE ARTS. Le Jupiter Olympien ; ou, l'Art de la Sculpture Antique, consideré sous un nouveau point de vue ; ouvrage qui comprend wn Essai sur le Gout de la Sculpture Polychrôme, l'Analyse explicative de la Toreutique, et l’Histoire de la Statuaireen Or et Ivoire chez les Grecset les Romains; avec la Restitution des principauw Monuments de cet Art, et la Demonstration pratique, ou le renouvellement de ses Procedés Mecaniques. Pur M. Quatremere de Quincy, membre de l'Institut. Olympian Jove; or, the Art of Ancient
Sculpture considered under a new point
of view, &c.; with the Restitution of .
the principal Monuments, and a practical Demonstralion of the Art of Sculpture in Gold and Ivory, &c. &c. Folio, with 10 plates—20 guineas. IN whatever point of view we consider the present work of M. Quatremere de Quincy, it is one of the most singular and extraordinary productions that has appeared for many years; important in bulk, typographic execution, and literary research. The author, who has long been one of the most celebrated
members of the Institute, is a living
proof that great abilities and profound learning may be united, in the same person, with heroic pride and the most abject meanness. M. Quatremere de Quincy is the plastic Proteus of circumstances, and in the commencement of the revolution was one of the first to dishonour the glorious struggle for liberty, by creating a democratic tyranny; and such was his unholy zeal, that no institution was sacred in his eyes. Proud of professing atheism, he struck at the root of every mode of worship save that of the Heathen mythology, which he cherished because its intimate connection with the Fine Arts was not a matter of indifference to his cupidity. The projector of the Pantheon saw, in the idle dreams of the clerical impostors of old, “the universal religion of nature,” be. cause they brought grist to his mill. Many of his plans were adopted; but
theimmensebronze figure of Fame, which was to have surmounted the Pantheon and made his fortune, has not yet been executed. In the revolution the most violent of the violent, and the brazenlunged eulogist of those exploits which despoiled all Europe of the chef d'ouvres of art to enrich Paris, this friend of the arts found out last year that statues and pictures had no value, excepting in the places for which they were originally designed; and he saw, and applauded the deed, the wanton spoliation of the Museum, unwarranted either by treaty or the right of conquest. It must be confessed that he selected his example well ; and, to shew how well he could confute, change sides, and still confute, —how well the man, who denied the existence of a Deity and the immortality of the soul, can write on those subjects when itsuits his purpose, we shall select his grand proof of the locality of importance in works of art, in the picture of the Duchess of Valliere taking the Veil. “She wished the pictures to retrace her struggles, and her victory. In the place even where the holocaust was consummated—on the spot where her ashes
were to repose—the new Magdalen was .
seen offering to the Eternal Being the sacrifice of her heart. On the altar of penitence her hand deposited the spoils of vanity, and cast far from her the gaudy trappings of the world; her eyes, become an exhaustless source of tears. were no longer opened but to raise them to heaven. Oh how the minds of sensibility loved to go and visit there this affecting picture | In that temple of repentance, what did not that suppliant
attitude, that expression of sorrow, paint
to them 7 and those eyes, eternally red with tears, what things did they not relate in this funereal-spot ?—how many ties, and what affecting ties how many lessons, and what lessons !—but of emotions and recollections attached solely to the walls which contained this picture. These walls have disappeared, and with them the enchanting train of ideas and illusions which embellished the work of the pencil. This faded painting, exposed in pompous galleries to the vain curiosity of cold criticism, no longer appeared any thing but a pale copy of itself, and scarcely attracted a
single look.-What do I say? I have seen this image become unfaithful to the vows which gave it birth—I have seen this perjured image ornament the gilded fragments of that very palace,” the only place in the world which ought never to have received it—I saw it, and I turned away my eyes.” Who would suppose that this very M. Quatremere de Quincy, who so pathetically deplores the removal of this picture from the “sacred walls” that contained it, was the man who suggested the destruction of those very walls, and the annihilation of every edifice consecrated to the Deity ? One might pardon these aberrations, under the idea that the author only retracted his errors, and was returned to the right way; but what shall we think when, at the very moment of his returning to the right way, we find him intriguing against his brethren, and, by his impoisoned calumnies, procuring the expulsion from the Institute of its foun. ders, Gregoire and Mongez, names that will be glorious in history, when M. Quatremere and the Institute are forgotten. But let us dismiss the depraved character of the author, and consider only his work.-Fas est, et ab hoste doceri. The work of M. Quatremere is divided into six parts, preceded by a copious introduction, in which he shews the reason why artists and connoisseurs have been prevented from fixing their attention on a branch of art, and a species of monuments, which were the most important from their destination, and the most remarkable and curious from the merit of the art and the artifice of their mechanism,-viz. the statues, frequently colossal, of gold and ivory. These monuments, the production of the most famous artists, were placed in the most celebrated temples. The magnitude of their dimensions, the value of their materials, the variety of their accompaniments, made them regarded as miracles in the art of statuary. The nature alone of the materials, added to their price ; and this material forms the principal subject of the problem of execution. No work of this kind was likely to come
* It was exposed in the apartments of the
palace of Versailles.
diversity of the materials and procedures) had its particular genius: that of sculp
ture in marble has almost solely influenced the taste, the habits, and manner of judging of the moderns. And it is scarcely even suspected that the principal chefs d'oeuvres of ancient times belonged to other procedures, to other primitive elements, and were consequently subjected to different maxims of taste." The first part of the work is devoted te the consideration of the Polychrome sculpture, or in relief, amongst the Greeks and Romans, in various colours, produced either by a light application of colouring substances, or by the employment of different materials, or by the assemblage of metals of different colours; by which means a composition in basrelief presented some appearance of a picture. The second is consecrated to the development of that division of the art of
sculpture called the Toreutic. Various
have been the idle conjectures of even ancient and modern authors on this subject; but our author shews very clearly that it was the art of sculpture in metals, and that it was on this account that Phidias and Polycletes were called Toreuticians; and he concludes by the restitution and description of a coloured design of the coffer of Cypelas, according to Pausanias, which was, in the time of that traveller, the most ancient specimen of sculpture in gold and ivory that existed in Greece. The third part contains researches on the principal historical documents on statuary in gold and ivory, preceding the age of Pericles. The details he enters into are highly curious and important; and concludes with the restitution of the throne of Apollo, with all the accompaniments and the details described by Pausanias. The fourth part contains the history of the statues and colossi, from Pericles to the period of Alexander; and he gives analytical descriptions and coloured designs of the most celebrated monuments
Retrospect of French Literature.
of Chryselephantine statuary, viz. the Minerva of the Parthenon, and the Jupiter Olympus of Phidias. The fifth part, besides the continuation of the history of Chryselephantine statuary (in gold and ivory) down to the
age of Constantine, according to a chro
mological order, contains new researches on the use of thrones in the great temples of antiquity.' The author comprises under the name of thrones, those grand and rich compositions of statues and colossi, whether seated on seats embellished by all the resources of the art, or whether grouped with other figures which serve as an accompaniment; and he shews that similar monuments existed in nearly all temples of the first order. The restitution of statues in gold and ivory does not come lower than Constantine; at which period we have many proofs they were held in great estimation, and continued to be made. The sixth part contains the solution of the grand problem of softening ivory, and adapting it to the composition of colossal statues. This seems to have been the grand object of the author in this stupendous work. The mind of the public has long been purposely prepared for the development of this great secret; and we were present at the Institute, last autumn, when a memoir was read on the
subject, and specimens of softened ivory
fish were handed round, as specimens of the successful efforts of M. Quatremere; which afforded the learned secretary the occasion of a witty rhyme and necessary injunction,on givingit out of his hands:— Il faut la passer, Mais pas la casser.
Certainly the specimen appeared considerably softened, and bent more easily, though deprived of a great portion of its elasticity. At length the long-expected secret is to be made known, in a tenguinea volume. What is it !—M. Quatremere has made us wade through a folio volume of 500 pages to come at it, and our readers must not expect to learn it all at once. We have but merely given an index or table of the contents of M. Quatremere's work; we will now proceed to analyse the various parts, and what pretensions he has to the gratitude of the learned world. Divesting ourselves of every thing that may be unfa
vourable to him, we will only consider the work in itself as a literary composition proposing to clear up many dark and obscure passages, and unveil the mysteries and the beauties, and the almost inconceivable prodigies, of ancient art to our view. His task was truly Herculean, like his subject: the question is how he has acquitted himself of it. A peculiar merit of French authors is, that in the analysis of any subject they attend greatly to method : they often want depth of learning, but rarely a clear regular systematical mode of considering a question ; it is, therefore, to be wondered at, that M. Qatremere, who is no stripling in the art of book-making; should have totally neglected so material a point in his grand work. He is a man of immense reading and some learning; but on the present occasion, wishing to strike out something new, from the conviction that the present state of our knowledge on these subjects is very imperfect, he is in a perpetual perplexity to define what he imagines to be right, he is extremely verbose and heavy, continually wanting perspicuity and succinctness ; and, after wading through hundreds of heavy pages, we are almost
tempted to exclaim, \ “Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.” HoR. .
But the work of M. Quatremere is a very singular one, and he wished that every thing in it should be singular. The dull beaten track of dividing a work into chapters or sections is exploded for the new division of paragraphs; thus, the first paragraph of the polychrome,
or party-coloured sculpture, occupies
seven folio pages | The second paragraph is of the same length, and all this merely to tell us that, in the infancy of the art of sculpture, colours. held the second place after form; and, consequently, what is now exploded as bad taste by the moderns, was then regarded a great perfection; and next that (in the infancy of the art too) real draperies ornamented the statues, as is at present the taste in india. The examples given in proof are highly creditable to the industry of the author—but why fourteen folio pages for what might have been comprized in two common paragraphs? The third and fourth paragraphs contain many curious arguments to prove, what no one ever doubted, that, in the early ages of Greece, they sculptured much in wood. We could easily prove, to the satisfaction even of M. Quatremere, that this custom held in every age of Greece, that the “household gods” in particular, and statues in general, for every family possessed some, were in the ratio of 1000 in wood to one in marble at least. After being at the pains of convincing us, in ten pages, that statues were actually made of wood, he gives a list of twenty-one species of wood of which statues were made, from ebony down to £ork. The fact is, that the ancients made statues of almost every thing, from iron down to wax, gum, and pitch. We wonder M. Quatremere should have here omitted a just compliment to his countrymen, the Parisian pastry-cooks, and shew how superior they are to the artists of ancient Greece. The most remarkable part of this “paragraph,” which M. Quatremere has passed over slightly, is
a statue of Venus, of loadstone, which
attracted a statue of Mars, of iron. M. Quatremere is extremely fond of displaying his talent at what he calls restitutions; of these, the happiest appears to us the Shield of Achilles. His Olympian Jove seated on his throne, represents nothing aptly in fact but an old man npon a chaise percée. Luckily for the author, Jupiter is no longer a deity, or he would avenge the insult to his divimity, to Phidias, and to Homer, in a striking manner. Phidias took his idea from Homer's description of Jove, according to the prayer of Thetis; and Quinctilian avers that he (Phidias) was the only person who knew how to equal the divinity in the majesty of his images, majestas operis a quavit Deum, (Orat lib. xii. cap. 10); and Arrian tells us, (Epist. lib. i. cap. 6), that every one accounted it a misfortune to die without having beheld that statue : with these
facts in our recollection, our curiosity to
see the restitution by so famous a man as M. Quatremere was great; we saw it, and turned away as M. Q. himself did from the picture of Maćame De la Walliere. This restitution, and the softening of
ivory, by which the ancients were enabled to form colossal statues of that substance, are the grand subjects of the work; and we are sorry to say, we think the author has as completely failed in the latter as the former; he’devotes upwards of fifty pages to tell us, that they might have made them of a great number of pieces fastened together, (we needed no ghost to tell us o or the elephants might have been larger— granted, and that the ivory was merely rendered soft the better to work it perhaps. But the secret, M. Quatremere, which you have discovered—the art of softening it, which you have amused the world with so long? We have paid ten guineas for your work, the price of your rare discovery, and must have it. Hard pressed, the author gives the grand secret in these words of Plutarch: #. vice remders us miserable, as a thread cuts bones steeped in ashes and vinegar, or as ivory is softened and extended by the zuthos (beer made of barley) allows itself to be bent and fashioned, which cannot be done in any other manner, &c. 11 (Plutarch an vitios ad infelic, suffic.) “Quid faciam nam sum petulanti splene eachimno 2' And is this all?—It is indeed. The ancients steeped ivory in beer to soften it, says Plutarch; or rather, says M. Quatremere, for we do not conceive the zuthos to be (bierre d'orge) barley beer, nor do we conceive that the ancients would adopt a mode of softening ivory, that destroyed its most precious property, its colour; but M. Quatremere tells us so, and the charge of ten guineas for the secret, if it be one, is too serious for a hoax; the proof is, however, that he has read Plutarch to some purpose, though we really think ten guineas for a passage, and that a very equivocal one, rather too much. It has been asserted a thousand times, as an axiom in nature, that the human mind never retrogrades; that knowledge and liberty once implanted in the bosom,
once suffered to flourish, the reign of
ignorance and despotism is eternally at an end. Would the fact were so ; but, alas, every page of history contradicts the sweeping assertion. What has become of the learning in Chaldea and in Egypt?—Sacred oracles of ancient Greece, ye have vanished even to the remembrance —What is left of your wisdom, ye sages, save disjointed fragments snatched by accident from the general wreck 3 ye fell, and ignorance, Cimmerian ignorance, usurped your throne. Athens, the seat of learning,
Retrospect of French Literature.
of wisdom, of all that was great and
good, is now a heap of ruins, and her sons a herd of slaves. Genius of ancient Rome, where art thou? Shall we seek the majesty of liberty in the modern temples of thy capital; or the victorious spirit of freedom in the servile cowardly bigot of modern Italy. In vain shall we seek through all her long extent, that sentiment, that kindling majesty:— --------------------as when Brutus rose, Refulgent from the stroke of Caesar's fate, Amid the crowd of patriots; and his arm Aloft extending like eternal Jove, When 5. brings down the thunder, call’d aloud On Tully's name, and shook his crimson steel, And bade the father of his country hail! For lo! the tyrant prostrate on the dust, And Rome again is freel---AKENSIDE.
Or, coming to our own times, where, we will ask, are to be found those glorious principles of liberty, that enthusiasm. that determination to be free, which distinguished the annals of the revolution before the passions exerted their baneful influence, and destroyed the glorious monument of innate freedom; twenty-five millions, who had sworn to be free, bow the neck, and consent to be imprisoned, taxed, despised, and trod upon by 150,000 foreign mercenaries; who, hemming in their frontiers, wave the sword of Damocles over their degraded heads. With these records in our recollection, and this striking example before us, how ridiculous to exclaim, that reason and knowledge never retrograde. If further examples were wanting; the literature of France, for the last twelve months, affords most deplorable ones; the most venal meanness that can be imagined, and the most cowardly apostacy marks every class of writers. We have disdained to notice the immense shoal of ephemeral trash which has appeared, and have merely selected a few of those works which claim the homage of praise, on account of riterary merit.
Description des Tombeaua de Canosa, ainsique des Bas-reliefs, des Armures, et les Vases Peints, qui y ont étè decouverts en 1813, par A. L. Millin, Chevalier de l'Ordre Royal de la Legion de l'Honneur, Conservateur du Cabinet des Medailles, des Pierres Gravées, et des Antiques, de la Bibliothèque du Roi, Membre de l’Institut, &c. &c. &c. &c. A Description of the Tombs of Canosa, as well as of the Bas Reliefs, Arms, and painted Vases, which were discovered there in 1813, by the Chevalier Millin, &c. &c.—Folio, 14 plates, price 100 francs. Paris. The reputation of M. Millin is too highly established in every country where the sciences are cultivated, and the fine arts cherished, to view with common interest whatever proceeds from his pen. He, more than perhaps any other, has succeeded in stripping Antiquity of her mystic veil; his profound knowledge and laborious researches on the favourite object of his pursuits, the Fine Arts, have enabled him to throw, in some cases, the light of certainty on subjects which presented the greatest difficulties, and inspired despair rather than hope. The present work of M. Millin is not calculated, perhaps, to raise his character higher—that would be a difficult task even for himself to execute; but, as a description of antiquities, of equal beauty and importance, of solid conjectures where evidence is wanting, it stands in the very first rank. The plain near Canosa, in Apulea, contains a great number of tombs of high antiquity; that discovered in 1813 is one of the most singular monuments of the kind, from its architecture and its sculpture, and on account of the beautiful coat of arms it contained, and the admirable painted vases deposited around the warrior buried in it. These paintings are at the same time remarkable for their size, the beauty of the design, and the singularity of the composition. The subjects they represent possess great interest, and are full of details which give new ideas on important facts relative to heroic history, and the manners and customs of ancient times; and which shed a
Mon. MAG. No. 286.