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unnatural swell. Such is the character of the statues made of basalt under the kings of Sais.
(54) When we turn to the Greek school (see Fig. 177) we are still further reminded that it is not easy to describe excellence except by mentioning the faults from which it is free. The Greek artist was able to attain to almost every end which the others had in view, because he was not misled as they were into false paths towards those ends. He could produce beauty without the help of ornament, grace and delicacy without affectation, strength without coarseness, and action without loss of balance. If he could give us his opinion about the other schools, he would probably say of the early Egyptian statues that the makers of them were beginners, who though they had not reached to high excellence, were in the right path towards it; that if their works do not show great skill, they show at least their good sense in not attempting beyond what they understood. Of the Ethiopic, the later Egyptian, and the Assyrian sculpture, he would probably say that they were the works of men who had already missed the true path, and were not in the way towards excellence.
(55) In one merit, and perhaps only one, was the early Egyptian artist superior to the Greek. The Greek statues have truth, muscular action, grace, beauty, and strength. They show pain, fear, love, and a variety of passions. But none of them are equal to those of Egypt in impressing on the mind of the beholder the feelings of awe and reverence. The two people were unlike in character; and the artists, copying from their own minds, gave the character of the nation to their statues. Plato saw nothing but ugliness in an Egyptian statue. The serious gloomy Egyptians had aimed at an expression not valued by the more gay and active Greeks. The Egyptians, however, had learned the superiority of rest over action in representing the sublime; and the artist who wishes to give religious dignity to his figures should study the quiet sitting Egyptian colossus of the reign of Amunothph III. In Michael Angelo's statues of Moses and Lorenzo we see how that great master in the same way made use of strength at rest when he wished to represent power and grandeur.
(56) The Egyptian statues were of various materiais,
but none of these at all equal to the beautiful marbles of Greece and Italy. Many of the oldest statues were of wood, and these always had the features painted. Others were of soft limestone from Thebes and Toura, and some few of alabaster. But a great many were of granite and syenite from Syene, hard gritstone from Abou Simbel and Heliopolis ; and during the reigns of the kings of Sais we meet with statues of yet harder basalt, from Syene, so hard indeed that it could not easily be cut with a flat chisel, and probably had to be chipped with a point. Yet these are all beautifully polished with sand, without a trace of the crystals or of the tool left on the surface. Porphyry, foreign marble, and bronze were not used till a later period. Under the kings of Sais also we meet with numerous small statues and images made of porcelain or baked clay, with the addition of a glazed surface coloured blue or green by the presence of a little copper. Many of them are models of mummies, made in large numbers, with long inscriptions written round the body, but wholly cast in a mould, not carved by hand; and sold cheaply, for grieving friends to bury in the tomb, or place under the bandages round the body. In earlier times these models of mummies used to be made of wood or stone and carved by hand.
(57) For painting, as the Egyptians had very little wood, and their stone walls were wanted for sculpture, and they had not invented any colours which would lie on canvas, they were limited to narrow strips of papyrus and a few wooden mummy cases. These were a poor field for the display of art; indeed, the mummy cases were mostly out of sight. Hence painting was not so much practised as sculpture, and progress in both was hindered thereby; for improvement, like a change in fashions, often is forwarded by the yielding and perishable nature of the material on which we work. The artist who in his stone statues, made by measurement, had taught his hand to give a hard stiffness to the human form, carried the same stiffness into his drawings and into his sculptures in relief, which were cut upon a drawn outline. When drawing the human figure, the pencil moved with ne more freedom than the chisel; and the artist's eye looked to the statues instead of to nature. But this was less the case with birds and beasts, of which there were no statues. For
them the draughtsman looked only to nature; and when he had traced an outline on the flat stone, the sculptor often cut in low relief the figure of the animals with truth and variety of attitude. The colours used by the painters were few in number and of simple materials. The white was limestone, the red and yellow were ochres, the blue and green were copper, and the black was charcoal, all laid on by the help of gum and water.
(58) Though the Egyptian quarries did not furnish the sculptor with any stone equal to Greek marble, they gave to the architect everything that he could wish for. The stone was for the most part floated northward down the river, and very rarely carried southward against the stream; hence the temples of every city were made from the quarries next above. The nummulite limestone of Memphis was not so much liked as to be used out of its own neighbourhood; and the quarries of Toura on the opposite bank of the river supplied the better limestone of which the buildings in the Delta were made. The limestone of Thebes was also used for some few buildings in that city, but was not liked by the architect so much as the sandstone of Silsilis; hence Silsilis supplied the greater part of the stone for the beautiful temples of the Thebaid. Above Silsilis we come to the granite and syenite and basalt of the first cataract; but these stones are too hard for building purposes, and were only used for statues, obelisks, and smaller works; hence all the temples above Silsilis, such as those of Philæ, Syene, and Elephantine, are of sandstone from the quarries of Kardassy and Kalabshee in Nubia.
(59) The Egyptian architecture received a high acknowledgment of its excellence when it was copied by the Greeks; and we may gain much by noting when and how the Greeks altered and improved the art of which they had learnt something by observation in the Delta, during their intercourse with the kings of Sais. We shall thus see how the forms and ornaments which the Egyptians copied from nature, became yet more graceful in the hands of the Greeks, with whom good taste and simplicity were as inborn qualities of the mind. As there was little or no wood at hand, the Egyptians made a post by tying together with bands a number of strong rushes. This they imitated in stone; and one of their earliest columns is like a bundle of papyrus
stalks thus tied together with bands. When they further departed from nature, and made a column in imitation of a single over-thick papyrus stalk, they yet kept the bands round it, which then had no meaning. So the Greeks in their column also kept the graceful but unmeaning fillet. The Egyptian papyrus column, like the plant itself, is not thickest at the bottom, but swells as it rises from the ground. All that is good in this form is kept in the Greek column, which has a slight and pleasing swell about the same height from the base. The Egyptian papyrus column is naturally ornamented at the top with a bud, or flower, or flowers, and leaves of the same plant, which thus form a capital (see Fig. 178); and the Greek column, though 10000 not like the stalk of a plant, but like the
trunk of a tree, is yet often headed with a capital ornamented with leaves and flowers. The capital of the Doric column may be the bud of the single papyrus column shortened into proportions which are more agreeable, as soon as the likeness to the plant is lost. The Egyptian square pillar with the Osiris-like statue standing quietly against it, was first copied in their own Isis-headed column, where the weight of the building rests upon the head of the goddess; and it may then have given to the Greeks the thought of their Caryatides, who so painfully support the same weight. The three-fold lines which alternate with the ovals of the kings' names on the curve of the Egyptian cornice become the triglyphs and metopes on the Doric temple.
(60) When we have seen that in so many of its smaller parts the Egyptian temple was the model of the Greek, we shall have less difficulty in believing that the same is true of the whole, with only such change as the climate, the purpose, and the taste of Greece required. The Greek temple was not to be a castle or place of defence, and therefore the wall round the courtyard, and the two towers at the gateway, were not wanted; and it was raised off the ground on three or four steps, that the portico might be better seen and admired.
Instead of the roof being flat, as the climate of Egypt allowed, it was made sloping, to throw off the rain; but in appearance the flat roof is still kept, and the sloping roof looks like a second placed over it. Thus we get the Greek pediment; and the Greek columns remain of one height, as if the roof were flat. Unfortunately, the remaining temples of the two countries are so far apart both in place and in age, as the temples of Thebes and the temple of Egina, that we could not hope to see any close agreement; but if we had any temples remaining in Lower Egypt, perhaps the agreement would be closer.
(61) In sculpture such was the superiority of the Greeks, that it is only in the lower branches of the art that any traces can be found of thoughts borrowed from Egypt. The Greek leg of a chair, formed of a lion's head and leg, was not copied from nature; the Egyptian lion-shaped couch was the original, or rather the middle link between nature and the Greek chair. So among the elegant Greek borders there are several for which we find the model not in nature, but in the Egyptian border of lotus-flower and fruit, which was also the original for the Jewish and Assyrian bells and pomegranates. The rude statue of Diana in Ephesus, which was so old that it was said to have fallen from heaven, was swaddled round the body and legs like a mummy, or rather like the Egyptian statues of Pthah and Osiris. The earliest Greek statues, sometimes called the works of Dædalus, such as the small bronze figures, often have the left leg forward and the arms hanging down by the side, like the Egyptian; and indeed Pausanias tells that some of the oldest of the Athenian statues were of the Egyptian style. The earliest Athenian coins have the full eye on the side face, like the Egyptian bas-reliefs.
Lib. i. ch. 42.