New Chapters in Greek Art

New Chapters in Greek Art

New Chapters in Greek Art

New Chapters in Greek Art

Excerpt

There is not in the whole history of art any so regular and gradual progress to be observed as in Greek sculpture. From the beginning of the sixth to the end of the fifth century there is constant improvement, fresh ideas, more perfect adaptation, superior technique. And the improvement, the gradual breaking of the swaddling bands of archaic art, proceeds in so orderly a way that works of Greek sculpture may be assigned with confidence, from a mere consideration of their style, to a generation, or even to a decade, as well as to a region and a school. During the fourth century sculpture remains at a very high level; from the ethical point of view one can trace some falling off, but in execution and technique there is actual progress; and this moral decay, combined frequently with astonishing perfection of work, goes on until the subjugation of Greece by Rome. The whole process is an evolution which may be compared for regularity and order with the geological evolution of the earth.

It is precisely this rule of law which makes the study of Greek art so excellent a training in historic research. It disposes the mind of the student to recognize in the course of history not mere capricious changes, with a succession of noteworthy personalities, but in addition to and beyond personalities the regular action of psychological law and tendency. But at the same time the human and the ideal element are very conspicuous in art as in all things Greek.

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