Greek Sculpture: Its Spirit and Principles

By Edmund Von Mach | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII
FORMULATED PRINCIPLES; PERFECT SKILL

The names of great men are like magnets, -- they gather about them works and sayings of friends and pupils; and after some centuries it has become impossible to distinguish what properly belongs to them and what tradition has added. The biographer is much inconvenienced by such a state of affairs: the art critic can view it with complaisance, for he cares less for the individual who first gives expression to a definite thought than for the thought and the time when it makes its appearance. It may sound like a paradox, but it is a fact, that a truth is rarely formulated while it continues to be an active force, and never at the beginning of its career. Toward the end of its period of influence, when it is threatened with extinction, the man is apt to appear who, looking back over the past, discerns more clearly than any one before the essential principles which have guided his predecessors. He expresses them, and by so doing preserves the image of this dying force for posterity.

Almost all the sayings accredited to Lysippos must be explained in this light. They are convincing only if thus understood. "The principle of my art," Lysippos

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