Roman and Medieval Art


It is a pity that the word "art" carries with it, to a person not interested in the subject or not versed in its history, a suggestion of luxury and of superfluity, as contrasted with the utilitarian or the practical. Where this possibly derogatory tinge of meaning is not suggested, there is generally at least a feeling that the matters which the word calls up are those of interest to the specialist in design rather than to the world at large. People who are supposed to be interested in "art" might, according to this view, possibly not be interested in literature or in history. Contrary-wise, people interested in history or in literature might possibly not be interested in "art."

It is true that in recent centuries, those namely of recent modern history, the arts of painting and sculpture, at least, have become mainly matters of luxury, and that as arts of popular education and instruction they have been displaced by printed books. Hence the difficulty of making immediately apparent, before the subject itself has been opened up, that a history of art is not so much a history of the arts of design as it is a history of civilization. But if this point is not apparent in advance, it is notwithstanding the point which in recent years has drawn more and more attention to the subject, until it is beginning to figure as an indispensable part of the philosophy and knowledge of general history.

As soon as history ceases to be conceived as a series of disconnected national chronicles, as soon as it begins to be . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1897


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