Greek Sculpture: Its Spirit and Principles

By Edmund Von Mach | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
THE FIRST ATTEMPTS: IN RELIEF

Some assert, but without sufficient proof, that relief sculpture in the evolution of art holds the intermediate place between painting and sculpture in the round. The child playing with his paint box may readily be imagined to have acquired some facility in drawing and painting before he feels the inclination, or the need, of giving corporeal forms to the creations of his fancy; but it is a question whether he will be ahead of the little girl of whom Ruskin writes, who, left alone with some dough in her mother's kitchen, made of it not pastry, as she was expected to do, but cats and mice. The extant monuments of early Greek art are insufficient to permit a definite statement in this respect, nor is such a statement at all necessary; for whatever the origin of relief sculpture was, in the hands of the Greeks it soon became a very distinct mode of art expression. Attempt after attempt was made, until the artists finally realized what they could do in relief and what they properly could not do. But in this field of sculpture, as in the other, they did not advance to the clear perception of its possibilities until their horizon had widened after the Persian wars.

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