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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Painting

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PAINTING , in art, the action of laying color on a surface, or the representing of objects by the laying of color on a surface. It is with painting in the last sense, considered as one of the fine arts, that this article deals. In the first sense, in so far as painting is a part of the builders and decorators trade it is treated above under the heading PAINTER-WORK. The verb to paint is derived through Fr. peindre (peint, the past participle, was possibly the earliest part adopted, as is suggested in the New English Dictionary), froln Lat. pingere, to paint. From the past participle pictus comes pictura, picture, and from the root pig, pigment. The ultimate meaning of the root is probably to decorate, adorn, and is seen in Gr. lrou4Xos, manycoloured, variegated.

In Part I. of this article, after a brief notice of the general character of the art and an account of its earliest manifestations, a sketch is given of the course of its development from the ancient Egyptian period to modern. times. (An account, by countries, of recent schools of painting will be found as an appendix at the end of Part III.) The point of view chosen is that of the relation of painting to nature, and it is shown how the art, beginning with the delineation of contour, passes on through stages when the effort is to render the truth of solid form, to the final period when, in the 17th century, the presentment of space, or nature in all her extent and variety, becomes the subject of representation. Certain special forfns of painting characteristic of modern times, such as portraiture, genre painting, landscape, still-life, &c., are briefly discussed.

Part II. consists in tables of names a,nd dates intended to afford a conspectus of the different historical schools of painting from the 12th century A.D. downwards.

Part III. is devoted to a comprehensive treatment of the different technical processes of painting in vogue in. ancient and modern times.

AuTHoRrrIEs.There is one elaborate general treatise on the whole art of painting in all its branches and connections. It is by Paillot de Montabert, and was published in Paris (1829-1850). It is entitled Trail complet de la pe-inture, and is in nine substantial volumes, with an additional volume of plates. It begins with establishing the value of rules for the art, and giving a dictionary of terms, lists of artists and works of art, &c. Vols. ii. and ni. give the history of the art in ancient, medieval and modern times. Vols. iv., v., vi. and vii. contain discussions on choice of subjects, design, composition, &c.; on proportions, anatomy, expression, drapery; on geometry, perspective, light and shade, and color. In vol. viii., pp. 1285 deal with color, aerial perspective and execution; pp. 285503 take up the different kinds of painting, history, portrait, landscape, genre, &c.; and pp. 50366! are devoted to materials and processes, which subject is continued through vol. ix. To encaustic painting 125 pages are given, and 100 to painting in oil. A long discussion on painting grounds and pigments follows, while other processes of painting, in tempera, water-color, enamel, mosaic, &c., are more briefly treated in about 200 pages, while the work ends with a notice of various artistic impedimenta. Vol. i., it should be said, contains on 70 pages a complete synopsis of the contents of the successive volumes. The best general History of Painting is that by Woltmann and Woermann (Eng. trans., London, 1880, &c.), but it does not go beyond the 16th century AD. See also the separate articles on CHINA (Art), JAPAN (Art), EGYPT (Art), GREEK ART, ROMAN ART, &c.

For the Italian schools of painting may be consulted: Crowe and Cavalcaselle, History of Painting in Daly (2nd ed., London, 1902, &c.). The original edition was published in London under the titles History of Painting in Italy (3 vols., 1864-1866), and History of Painting in North Italy (2 vols., f87I), Venturi, Stor-ia deli arte italiana (Milan, 1901, &c.).

For the German: Janitschek, Geschichte der deutschen Malerei (Berlin, 1890).

For the Early Flemish: Crowe and Cavalcaselle, The Early Flemish Painters (2nd ed., London, 1872); Wurzbach, Niederidndisches Kunsller-Lexicon (Vienna and Leipzig, 1906, &c.); Weale, Hubert and John van Eyck (London, 1907). -

For the Dutch: Wurzbach; Bode, Stud-ien zur Geschichte der Holidndischen Maierei (Braunschweig, 1883) and Rembrandt und seine Zeitgenossen (Leipzig, 1906); Havard, The Dutch School of ~ainting (trans., London, 1885).

For the French: Lady Dilke, French Painters of the Eighteenth century (London, I899); D. C. Thomson, The Barbizon School.

For the English: Redgrave, A Century of Painters of the English School (London, 1890).

For the Scottish: W. D. McKay, R.S.A., The Scottish School of Painting (London, 1906).

For the American: J. C. Van Dyke (ed), History of American Art (New York, 1903, &c.); S. Isham, A Ilistory of American Painting (N. Y., 1905).

The modern schools generally are treated fully, with copious bibliographical references, by Richard Muther, The History of Modern Painting (2nd ad., Eng. trans., London, 1907).

PART IA SKETCH OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ART

I. Constituents and General Clzaracter.If we trace back to the parent stock the various branches that support the luxuriant modern growth of the graphic art, we see that this parent stock is in its origin twofold. Painting begins on the one side in outline delineation and on the other in the spreading of a colored coating over a surface. In both cases the motive is at first utilitarian, or, at any rate, non-artistic. In. the first the primary motive is to convey information. It has been. noticed of certain. savages that if one of them wants to convey to a companion the impression of a particular animal or object, he will draw with his finger in the air the outline of some characteristic feature by which it may be known, and if this do not avail he will sketch the same with a pointed stick upon the ground. It is but a step from this to delineation on. some portable tablet that retains what is scratched or drawn upon it, and in this act a monument of the graphic art has come into being.

In the ether case there are various motives of a non-aesthetic kind that lead to the covering of a surface with a coat of another substance. The human body, the first object of interest to man, is tender and is sensitive to cold. Wood, one of the earliest building materials and the one material for any sort of boatbuilding, is subject, especially when exposed to moisture, to decay. Again, ,the early vessel of clay, of neolithic date, because imperfectly burned, is porous. Now the properties of certain substances suitable for adhesive coatings on. anything that needed protection or reinforcement would soon. be noticed. Unctuous and oily substances like animal fat, mixed with ashes or some such material, are smeared by some savages on their bodies to keep them, warm in cold regions and to defend them against insect bites in the tropics. Wax and resin and pitch, liquefied by the heat of the sun or by fire, would lend themselves readily for the coating of wood with a substance impervious to moisture. Vitreous glazes, first no doubt the result of accident, fused over the surface of the primitive clay vessel would give it the required impermeability. This is no more art than the mere delineation which is the other source of painting, but it begins to take on itself an aesthetic character when color plays a part in it. There are physiological reasons why the color red exercises an exciting influence, and strong colors generally, like glittering surfaces, make an aesthetic appeal. In prehistoric times the flesh was sometimes stripped from the skeleton of a corpse and the bones rubbed with red earth or ruddlle; while the same easily procured coloring substance is used to decorate the person or the implement of the savage. In this sensibility to color we find a second and distinct origin of the art of painting.

What a perspective does a glance back at the development of painting afford! Painting, an art that on a flat surface can suggest to illusion the presence of solid forms with length, breadth and thickness; that on the area of a few square inches can convey the impression of the vast spaces of the universe, and carry the eye from receding plane to plane till the persons or objects that people them grow too minute for the eye to discern; painting that can deck the world in Elysian brightness or veil it in the gloom cf the Crucifixion, that intoxicates the senses with its revelation of beauty, or magician-like withdraws the veil from the mysterious complexity of nature; the art that can exhibit all this, and yet can suggest a hundredfold more than it can show, and by a line, a shade, a touch, can stir within us thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears this Painting, the most fascinating, because most illusive in its nature, of all the arts of form, is in its first origin at one time a mere display to attract attention, as if one should cry out See here! and at another time a prosaic answer to a prosaic question about some natural object, What is it like? The coat or streak or dab of color, the informing outline, are nbt in themselves aesthetic products. The former becomes artistic when the element of arrangement or pattern is introduced. There is arrangement when the shape and size of the mark or marks have a studied relation to those of the surface on which they are displayed; there is pattern when they are combined among themselves so that while distinct and contrasted they yet present the appearance of a unity. Again, the delineation, serving at first a purpose of use, is not in itself artistic, and it is a difficult question in aesthetic whether any representation of nature that aims only at resemblance really comes into the domain of art. It is of course acknowledged that a mere prosaically literal likeness of a natural object is not a work of art; but when the representation is of such a kind as to bring out the character of the object with discriminatiOn and emphasis, to give the soul of it, as it were, and not the mere lineaments, then, logically or illogically, art claims it as its child. In the strict sense the delineation only becomes artistic when there is present the element of beauty in arrangement or composition. The insight and sympathy just referred to are qualities rather intellectual than artistic, and the really artistic element would be the tasteful fitting of the representation to the space within which it is displayed, and the harmonious relations of the lines or masses or tones or colors that ii presents to the eye. In other words, in artistic delineation there will be united elements drawn from both the sources above indicated. The representation of nature will be present, and so will also a decorative effect produced by a pleasing combination of forms and lines.

2. Limitations of the Meaning of the word Painting.If delineation take on itself a decorative character, so too decoration, relying at first on a pleasing arrangement of mere lines or patches that have in themselves no significance, soon goes on to impart to these the similitude, more or less exact, of natural objects. Here we arrive at a distinction which must be drawn at the outset so as duly to limit the field which this survey of painting has to cover. The distinction is that between. ornamental or, in a narrow sense, decorative painting on the one side, and painting proper on. the other. In the first, the forms employed have either in themselves no significance or have a resemblance to nature that is orJy distant or conventional. In painting proper the imitation of nature is more advanced and is of greater importance than the decorative effect to the eye. It is not only present but preponderant, while in ornamental work the representative element is distinctly subordinate to the decorative effect. In Greek vase decoration the conventional floral forms, or the mannered animal figures that follow each other monotonously round vases of the Oriental style, belong to the domain of ornament, while the human forms, say, on the earliest red-figured vases, while displayed in pleasing patterns and in studied relation to the shape and structure of the vessel, exhibit so much variety and so great an effort on the part of the artist to achieve similitude to nature, that they claim a place for themselves in the annals of the painters art.

A further limitation is also necessary at the outset. Pictorial designs may be produced without the equipment of the painter proper; that is to say, without the use of pigments or colored substances in thin films rubbed on to or attached by a binding material upon a surface. They may be executed by setting together colored pieces of some hard substance in the form of Mosaic (q.v.); by interweaving dyed threads of wool, linen or silk into a textile web to produce Tapestry or Embroidery (qv.); by inlaying into each other strips of wood of different colors in the work called Tarsia or Mar quetry (q.v.); by fusing different colored vitreous pastes into contiguous cavities, as in Enamelling (see ENAMEL); or by framing together variously shaped pieces of transparent colored glass into the stained glass window (see GLASS, STAINED).

These special methods of producing pictorial effects, in so far as the technical processes they involve are concerned, are excluded from view in this article and are dealt with under their own headings. Only at those periods when pictorial design was exclusively or especially represented by work in these forms will the results of these decorative processes be brought in to illustrate the general character of the painting of the time. For example, in the 5th and 6th Christian centuries the art of painting is mainly represented by the mosaics in the churches at Rome and Ravenna, and these must be included from the point of view of design in any review of painting, though as examples of mosaic technique and style they are treated in an article apart. Greek vase painting, again, is a special subject (see GREEK ART and CERAMICS), yet the designs on early Greek vases are the only extant monuments that illustrate for us the early stages of the development of classical painting as a whole. It will be understood therefore that in this article the word painting means the spreading of thin. films of coloring matter over surfaces to which they are made by different means to adhere, and it will only be taken in a wider sense in certain exceptional cases just indicated.

3. Importance in the Art of the Representation of Nature. If we regard painting as a whole, the imitation of nature may be established as its most distinctive characteristic and the guiding principle of its development. It must at the same time be understood that in the advanced criticism of painting, as it is formulated in modern times, no distinction is allowed among the different elements that go to make up a perfect production of the art. In such a production the idea, the form, the execution, the elements of representation and of beauty, and the individual expression of the artist in his handiwork, are essentially one, and none of them can be imagined as really existing without the others. It is not the case of a thought, envisaged pictorially, and deliberately clothed in an artistic dress, but of a thought that would have no existence save in so far as it is expressible in paint. This is the modern truth of the art, and the importance of the principle here involved will be illustrated in a later Section, but it must be borne in mind that the painting to which this principle applies is a creation of comparatively modern times. As in music so in painting, it has been reserved for recent epochs to manifest the full capabilities of the art. Whereas the arts of architecture and sculpture, though they have found in the modern era new fields to conquer, yet grew to their full stature in ancient Hellas, those of music and painting remained almost in their infancy till the Renaissallce. It was only in the 16th and 17th centuries that painters obtained such a mastery on the one hand over the forms of nature, and on the other over an adequate technique, that they were able to create works in which truth and beauty are one and the artistic speech exactly expresses the artistic idea. For this the painter had to command the whole resources of the science of perspective, linear and aerial, and all the technical capabilities of the many-sided processes of oil-paint. Till that stage in the development of the art was reached work was always on one side or another tentative and imperfect, but all through these long periods of endeavour there is one constant feature, and this is the effort of the artist to attain to truth in the representation of nature. No matter what was the character of his task or the material equipment of which he disposed, this ideal was for ever before his eyes, and hence it is that in the relation of the painters work to nature we find that permanent feature which makes the development of the art from first to last a unity.

4. General Scheme of the Development of the Art.From this point of view, that of the relation of the work of the painter to nature, we may make a rough division of the whole history of the art into four main periods.

The first embraces the efforts of the older Oriental peoples, best represented by the painting of the Egyptians; the second includes the classical and medieval epochs up to the beginning of the 15th century; the third, the 15th and 16th centuries; and the fourth the time from the beginning of the 17th century onwards.

In the first period the endeavour is after truth of contour, in the second and third after truth of form, in the fourth after truth of space.

The Egyptian artist was satisfied if he could render with accuracy, and with proper emphasis on what is characteristic, the silhouettes of things in nature regarded as little more than flat objects cut out against a light background. The Greek and the medieval artist realized that objects had three dimensions, and that it was possible on a flat surface to give an indication of the thickness of anything, that is of its depth away from the spectator, as well as its length and breadth, but they cannot be said to have fully succeeded in the difficult task they set themselves. For this there was needful an efficient knowledge of perspective, and this the 15th century brought with it. During the 15th century the painter fully succeeds in mastering the representation of the third dimension, and during the next he exercises the power thus acquired in perfect freedom, producing some of the most convincing and masterly presentments of solid forms upon a fiat surface that the art has to show. During this period, however, and to a more partial extent even in the earlier classical epoch, efforts were being made to widen the horizon of, the art and to embrace within the scope of its representations not only solid objects in themselves, but such objects as a whole in space, in due relation to each other and to the universe at large. It was reserved, however, for the masters of the 17th century perfectly to realize this ideal of the art, and in their hands painting as an art of representation is widened out to its fullest possible limits, and the whole of nature in all its aspects becomes for the first time the subject of the picture.

5. The Place of Classical Painting in the Development of the Art.This limitation of classical painting to the representation of form may be challenged, for some hold that Greek artists not only attempted but succeeded in the task of portraying objects in space in due relation to each other and to the system of things as a whole, and that the scope of their work was as extended as that of the Italian painter of the 16th century. The view taken in this article will presently be justified, but a word may be said here as to Greek painting in general and its relation to sculpture. The main arguments in favor of the more exalted view of this phase of the art are partly based on general considerations, and partly on the existence of some examples which seem to show the artist grappling with the problems of space. The general argument, that because Greek sculptors achieved so much, we must assume that the painters brought their art to the same level, is of no weight, because it has been already pointed out that painting and music are not in their development parallel to sculpture and architecture. Nothing, moreover, is really proved by the facts that painting was held by the ancients in higher estimation than its sister art, and that the painters gained great wealth and fame. Painting is a more attractive, more popular art than sculpture. It represents nature by a sort of trick or illusion, whereas sculpture with its three dimensions is more a matter of course. It is a puzzle how the object or scene, with its colors as well as its forms, can be made to appear on a few square inches of flat surface, and the artist who has the secret of the illusion is at once a man of mark. In Greece this was specially the case, because painting there made its appearance rather later than sculpture and so was from the first more conspicuous. Hence literary writers, when they refer to the arts generally, quote a painter rather than a sculptor. The people observed the painters, and these naturally made the most of themselves and of their art. The stories of the wealth and ostentation of some of these show that there was an atmosphere of reclame about the painters that must have affected the popular estimate, in an aesthetic sense, of their work. Then, too, popular criticism of painting has no standard. To the passer-by who watches the pavement artist, the result of his operations seems nature itself. Better than I saw not who saw the truth, writes Dante (Purg. xii. 68) of incised outlines on a pavement, that cannot go very far in natural similitude. Vasari, though a trained artist, writes as if they vied with nature of certain works that, though excellent for their day, do not approach the modern type. We think ourselves that Raphaels babies are like nature till we see Correggios, and that Venetian Venuses are real flesh and blood till that of Velazquez comes to prove them paint. The fact is that the expression true to nature is a relative one, and very little weight should be given to a merely popular or literary judgment on a question of the kind. Hence we must not assume that because ancient painting was extravagantly praised by those who knew no other, it therefore covered all the field of the art.

6. The Earliest Representative Art.Naturalistic design of a very effective kind appears at a very early stage of human development, and is practised among the most primitive races of the actual world, such as the Australians, the Bushmen of South Africa and the Eskimo. Of the existence of such art different explanations have been offered, some finding for the representations of natural objects motives of a religious or magical kind, while others are content to see in them the expression of a simple artistic delight in the imitation of objects of interest. The extraordinary merit, within certain limits, of this early naturalistic work can be accounted for on sociological lines. As Grosse has put it (The Beginnings of Art, p. 198), Power of observation and skill with the hand are the qualities demanded for primitive naturalistic pictorial art, and the faculty of observation and handiness of execution are at the same time the two indispensable requisites for the primitive hunter life. Primitive pictorial art, with its peculiftr characteristics, thus appears fully comprehensible to us as an aesthetic exercise of two faculties which the struggle for existence has developed and improved among the primitive peoples. So far as concerns the power of seizing and rendering the characteristics of natural objects, some of the earliest examples of representative artin the world are among the best. The objects are animals, because these were the only ones that interested the early hunter, but tens of thousands of years ago the Palaeolithic cave-dwellers of western France drew and carved the mammoth, the reindeer, the antelope, and the horse, with astonishing skill and spirit.

Fig. 6, Plate III., shows the famous sketch of a mammoth made by a prehistoric hunter and artist of western France. The tusks, the trunk, the little eye, the forehead, and especially the shaggy fell of the long-haired elephant, are all effectively rendered.

Figs. I, 2 and 3, Plate I., show three examples of the marvellous series of prehistoric carvings and incised drawings, from the caves of southern France, published by the late Edouard Piette. We note especially the remarkable effort to portray a stag turning its head, and the close observation displayed in the representation of the action of a running buck.

Even. more striking are the Palaeolithic paintings discovered in the cave of Altamira at Santillane, near Santander in Spain. These are less ancient than the carvings and sketches mentioned above, but they date from a time when what is now Great Britain was not yet divided from the continent by the Channel, when the climate of southern Europe was still cold, and when animals now extinctsuch as the European bisonwere still common. These paintings, boldly sketched in three colors, may be reckoned as some 50,000 years old. They display the same power of correct observation and artistic skill as the earlier carvings. Notice in the remarkable examples given on Plate II. the black patches on the bisons winter coat and the red color of the hide where, with the progress of the spring, he has got rid of the long hair from the more prominent parts of his body by rubbing himself against the rocks. The impressionist character of some of these sketches is doubtless partly due to the action of time; but note how, in the case of the great boar, the artist has represented the action of the legs in running as well as standing in much the same way as might be done in a rapid sketch by a modern painter. The mystery of these astounding paintings is increased by the fact that they are found in a cave to which no daylight has ever penetrated, sometimes in places almost inaccessible to sight or reach, and that they are surrounded by symbols of which none can read the meaning (see the two lozenges in fig. 3, Plate I.).

Palaeolithic art is, however, a phenomenon remote and isolated, and in the history of painting its main interest is to show how ancient is the striving of man after the accurate and spirited representation of nature. Modern savages on about the same plane of civilization do the same work, though not with equal artistic deftness, and Grosse reproduces(loc.cit., ch.vii.)some characteristic designs of Australians and Bushmen. Some of these are of single figures, but there are also large associated groups of men and animals with the landscapes around them. The pictures consist in outlines engraved or scratched on stone or wood or on previously blackened surfaces of hide, generally, though not always, giving profile views, and are sometimes filled in with flat tints of color. There is no perspective, except to this extent, that objects intended to appear distant are sometimes made smaller than near ones. In the extended scenes the figures and objects are dispersed over the field, without any arrangement on planes or artistic composition, but each is delineated with spirit and. in essential features with accuracy.

It is a remarkable fact, but one easily explained, that when man advances from the hunter stage to a more settled agricultural life these spontaneous naturalistic drawings no longer appear. Neolithic man shows a marked advance on the capacity of his Palaeolithic predecessors in all the useful arts of life: his tools, his pottery, his weapons; but as an artist he was beyond comparison inferior. His attempts to draw men and beasts resulted in no. more than conventional symbols, such as an intelligent child might scribble; of the Palaeolithic mans taste for design, as shown in the carved work of the caves, or of his power of reproducing nature, there is not a sign. Keenness of observation and deftness of hand are no longer developed, because no longer needed for the purposes of existence, and representative art almost dies out, to be, however, revived at a further stage of civilization. At this further stage the sociological motive of art is commemoration. It is in connection with the tomb, the temple and the palace that in early but still fully organized communities art finds its field of operations. Such communities we find in ancient Egypt and Babylonia, while similar phenomena showed themselves in old Oriental lands, such as India and China.

7. The Painting of Contour: Egypt and Babylonia.In ancient Egypt we find this graphic delineation of natural objects, so spontaneous and free among the hunter tribes, reduced to a system and carried out with certain well-established conventions. The chief of these was the almost universal envisagement in profile of the subject to be represented. Only in the case of subsidiary figures might a front or a back view or a three-quarter face be essayed. To bring the human figure into profile it was conventionalized, as fig. ~, Plate III., will show. The subject is an Egyptian of high rank, accompanied by his wife and son, fowling in the marshes of the Delta. It is part of a wall-painting from a tomb at Thebes dating about 1500 B.C. The head, it will be seen, is in profile, but the eye is drawn full-face. The shoulders are shown in front view, though by the outline of the breast, with its nipple, on the figures right, and by the position far to the right of the navel, an indication is given that the view here is three-quarters. At the hips the figure is again in profile, and this is the position also of the legs. It will be observed that the two feet have the big toe on the same side, a device to escape the necessity of drawing the four toes as seen in the outside view of a foot. As a rule the action of these figures is made as clear as possible, and they are grouped in such a way that each is clearly seen, so that a crowd is shown either by a number of parallel outlines each a little in advance of the other suggesting a row seen in slight obliquity, or else by parallel rows of figures on lines one above the other. Animals are treated in the same way in profile, save that oxen will show the two horns, asses the two ears, as in front view, and the legs are arranged so that all are seen.

Within these narrow limits the Egyptian artist achieved extraordinary success in the truthful rendering of nature as expressed in the contours of figures and objects. If the human form be always conventionalized to the required flatness, the draughtsman is keen to seize every chance of securing variety. He fastens on the distinctive traits of different races with the zeal of a modern ethnologist, and in the case of royal personages he achieves success in individual portraiture. Though he could not render varieties of facial expression, he made the action of the limbs express all it could. The traditional Egyptian gravity did not exclude humour, and some good caricatures have been preserved. Egyptian drawing of animals, especially birds (see fig. 7, Plate III.), has in its way never been surpassed, and the specific points of beasts are as keenly noted as the racial characteristics of human beings. Animals, domestic or wild, are given with their particular gait or pose or expression, and the accent is always laid on those features that give the suggestion of strength or swiftness or lithe-agility which marks the species. The precision of drawing is just as great in the case of lifeless objects, and any set of early, carefully-executed, hieroglyphic signs will give evidence of an eye and hand trained to perfection in the simplef tasks of the graphic art.

The representation of scenes, as distinct from single figures or groups, was not wholly beyond the Egyptian artists horizon. His most ambitious attempts are the great battle-scenes of the period of the New Empire, when a Sati or a Rameses is seen driving before him a host of routed foemen. The king in his chariot with the rearing horses is firmly rendered in the severe conventional style, but the crowd of fugitives, on a comparatively minute scale, are not arranged in the original clear fashion in parallel rows, but are tumbled about in extraordinary confusion all over the field, though always on the one flat plane. By another convention objects that cannot be given in profile are sometimes shown in ground plan. Thus a tank with trees round it will be drawn square in plan and the trees will be exhibited as if laid out flat on the ground, pointing on each side outwards from the tank.

In Babylonia and Assyria the mud-brick walls of palaces were coated with thin stucco, and this was in the interior sometimes painted, but few fragments of the work remain. On the exterior considerable use was made of decorative bands and panels of enamelled tiles, in which figure subjects were promi-. nent, as we learn by the passage from Ezek. xxiii., about men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pour~ trayed with vermilion. The best idea of Assyrian graphic design is gained from the slabs carved in very low relief, which contain annalistic records of the acts of the king and his people in war and peace. The human figure is treated here in a less conventional scheme, but at the same time with less variety and in a less spirited and interesting fashion than in Egypt,. Of animals far fewer species are shown, but in the portrayal of the nobler beasts, notably the horse, the lion and the mastiff, there is an element of true grandeur that we seldom find in Egyptian design. Furthermore, the carver of the reliefs had a better idea of giving the impression of a scene than his brother of the Nileland, and in his representations of armies marching and fighting he introduces rivers, hills, trees, groups of buildings and the like, all of course delineated without perspective, but in far truer and more telling fashion than is the case with the scenes from the campaigns of Egyptian conquerors.

8. Painting in Pre-Izistoric Greece.A new chapter in the history of ancient painting was opened by the discovery of relics of the art in the palaces and tombs of the Mycenaean period on the coasts and islands of the Aegean. The charming naturalistic representations of marine plants and animals on the painted vases are quite unlike anything which later Greek art has to offer, and exhibit a decorative taste that reminds us a little of the Japanese. What we are concerned with, however, are rather the examples of wall-painting in plaster found at Tiryns and Mycenae and in Crete. Of the former the first to attract notice was the well-known bull from Tiryns, represented in profile and in action, and accompanied by a human figure; but of far greater importance, because foreshadowing an advance in the pictorial art, are certain wall-paintings discovered more recently by Dr Evans at Cnossos in Crete. The question is not of the single figures in the usual profile view, like the already celebrated Cup-bearer, however important these may be from the historical side, but of the so-called miniature wallpaintings that are now preserved in the museum at Candia, in which figures on a small scale are represented not singly but in crowds and in combination with buildings and landscape features that seem to carry us forward to far more advanced stages of the art of painting. To borrow a few sentences fiom Dr Arthur Evanss account of them on their first discceery (Annual of British School at Athens, vi. 46): A special characteristic of these designs is the outline drawing in fine dark lines. This outline drawing is at the same time combined with a kind of artistic shorthand brought about by the simple process of introducing patches of reddish brown or of white on which groups belonging to one or other sex are thus delineated. In this way the respective flesh-tints of a series of men or women are given with a single sweep of the brush, their limbs and features being subsequently outlined on the background thus obtained. There is here, it is true, no perspective, but there is a distinct effort to give the general effect of objects in a mass, which corresponds curiously with the modern development of the art of painting called impressionism.

9. The Painting of Form: Ancient Greece and Italy.As nor yet arranged in formal rows one above the other, but distributed at different levels on the one plane of the picture, the levels being distinguished by summary indications of a landscape setting. Parts of some of the figures were hidden by risings of the ground. The general effect is probably represented by the paintings on the vase in the Louvre shown in fig. 9, one side of which exhibits the destruction of the children of Niobe, and the other the Argonauts. Simplicity in design and ethical dignity in the single forms are here unmistakable.

It is probable that Polygnotus had not fully mastered the difficulties of foreshortening with which the early red-figure masters were struggling, but later designs both on vases and elsewhere do show that in the 4th century at any rate these had been FIG. 9.Vase painting in the Louvre, illustrating the s overcome. The drawing on the so-called Ficoronian Cista, and on the best of the Greek mirror-backs, may be instanced. The ancients recognized that in the latter part of the 5th century B.C. painting made a great technical advance, so that all that had gone before seemed archaic, while for the first time the gates of art were opened and the perfect masters entered in. The advance is in the direction of the representation not of form only but of space, and seems from literary notices to have implied a considerable acquaintance with perspective science. The locus classicus, one of great importance, is in Vitruvius. In the preface to his seventh book he writes of Agatharcus, a painter who flourished at Athens in the middle and third quarter of the 5th century, that he executed a scene-painting for Aeschylus, and wrote a treatise upon it which inspired the philosophers Democritus and Anaxagoras to take up the subject, and to show scientifically from the constitution of the eye and the direction of rays of light how it was possible in scenic paintings to give sure images of objects otherwise hard to fix correctly, so that when such objects were figured on an upright plane at right-angles to the line of sight some should appear to recede and others to come forwards. It would not be easy to summarize more aptly the functions of perspective, and if philosophers of the eminence of those just mentioned worked out these rules and placed them at the disposal of the artists, the transition from ancient to modern painting should have been accomplished in the 5th century B.C.,

instead of just two thousand years afterwards! So far however as the existing evidence enables us to judge, this was not actually the case, and in spite of Agatharcus and the philosophers, painting pursued the even tenor of its way within the comparatively narrow limits set for it by the genius of ancient art (see GREEK ART). It may be admitted that in many artistic qualities it was beyond praise. In beauty, in grace of line, in composition, we can. imagine works of Apelles, of Zeuxis, of Protogene~, excelling even the efforts of the Italian painters, or only matched by the finest designs of a Raphael or a Leonardo. In the small encaustic pictures of a Pausias there may have been all the richness and force we ,admire in a Chardin or a Monticelli. We may even concede that the Greek artist tried at times to transcend the natural limits of his art, and to represent various planes of space in perspective, as in the landscape scenes from the Odyssey, or in figure compositions such as the Alexander and Darius at Issus, preserved to us in a mosaic, or the Battle-piece by Aristides that contained a hundred combatants. The facts, however, remain, first that the Greek pictures about which we chiefly read were of single figures, or subjects of a very limited and compact order with little variety of planes; and second, that the existing remains of ancient painting are so full of mistakes in perspective that the representation of distance cannot have been a matter to which the artists had really set themselves. The monumental evidence available on the last point is sufficient to override arguments to the contrary that may be built up on literary notices. No competent artist, or even teacher of drawing, who examines what is left of ancient painting, can fail to see that the problem .~ of representing correctly the third dimension of space, though it may have been attacked, had certainly ~- not been solved. It is of no avail to urge that these remains are not n from the hands of the great ~- artists but of mere decorators.

In. modern times the mere decora 5. tor, if he had passed through a (- school of art, would be as far above such childish blunders as a Royal Academician. We have only to consider dispassionately the photographic reproductions from ancient paintings (Herr yle of Polygnotus. mann, Denkmdler der Malerei des Altertums, Munich, 1906, &c.) to see that the perspective researches of the philosophers had not resulted in a general :omprehension among the artists of the science of receding ~ilanes. For example, in. the famous wall-painting of Zeus and Elera on Mount Ida in the House of the Tragic Poet at Pompeii, Lhe feet of the standing figure of the goddess are nearer to the Ipectator than the seat of her lord, but the upper part of her form s away on the farther side of him (see fig. 10, Plate III). No one who could draw at all would be capable now of such a mistake. En interiors the perspective of the rafters of a roof, of a table, a stool, a throne, is in most cases faulty; and the scale of the figures seems often to be determined rather by their relative importance in the scene than by their position on the planes of ~he picture. In the Pompeian landscape-piece of Paris on Mount Ida (Herrmann, No. 8) there is no sense of the relative proportions of objects, and a cow in the foreground s much smaller than Paris, who is a long way back in the :omposition.

It is an additional confirmation of this view to find early Thristian and early medieval painting confined to the representa:ion of the few near objects, which the older Oriental artists had dl along envisaged. If classical painters had really revoluionized design, as it was actually revolutionized in the 15th ~entury of our era, and had followed out to their logical conseiuence the innovations of Agatharcus~ we may be sure that the influence of these innovations would not have been wholly lost even in the general decline of the arts at the break-up of the Roman Empire of the West. In any case, the influence would have survived in Byzantine art, where there was no such cataclysm. Yet we fail to see in the numerous pictorial miniatures from the 5th century onwards, or in the mosaics or the wall-paintings of the same epoch, any more effective grasp of the facts of the third dimension of space than was possessed by the pre-classical Egyptian.

All through the middle ages, therefore, the facts concerning painting with which we are here concerned remain the same, and the art appears almost exclusively concerned with the few selected objects and the single plane. The representation is at most of form and not of space.

10. Early Christian and Early Medieval Painting.The extant remains of early Christian painting may be considered under three heads: (I) the wall-paintings in the catacombs; (2) the pictorial decorations in books; (3) the mosaic pictures on the walls of the churches. (I) The first are in themselves of little importance, but are of historical interest as a link of connection between the wall-painting of classical times and the more distinctively Christian forms of the art. They are slightly executed and on a small scale, the earliest, as being more near to classical models, are artistically the best. (2) That form of painting devoted to the decoration and illustration of books belongs more to the art of ornament than to painting proper (see ILLUMINATED MSS. and ILLUSTRATION). (3) Early Christian mosaics are noble monuments of the graphic art, and are its best representatives during the centuries from the 5th to the 8th. A dignified simplicity in design suits their large scale and architectural setting, and the aim of the artist is to present in forms of epic grandeur the personages of the sacred narratives. They are shown as in repose or engaged in some typical but simple action; the backgrounds being as a rule plain blue or gold and the accessories of the simplest possible description. The finest Christian mosaic is also the earliest. It is in the apse of S. Pudentiana, Rome, apd displays Christ enthroned as teacher with the Apostles seated on each side of Him. It may date from the 4th century. Next to this the best examples are at Ravenna, in the tomb of Galla Placidia, the Baptistery, S. Apollinare Nuovo and S. Vitale, dating from the 5th and 6th centuries. The picture in the baptistery of the Baptism of Christ is the most artistic piece of composition and pictorial effect, and next to this comes the Good Shepherd of the tomb of Galla Placidia. The finest single figures are those of the whiterobed saints between the windows of the nave of S. Apollinare Nuovo, and the most popular representations are the two processions of male and female saints lower down on the same walls. The famous mosaics in S. Vitale depicting Justinian and Theodora with courtiers in attendance, though historically interesting, are designed in a wooden fashion, and later mosaics at Palermo, Venice, Rome and other places are as a rule rather decorative than pictorial. Where the costly material of glass mosaic was not available, the churches of this period would show mural paintings on plaster of much the same design and artistic character, though comparatively ineffective.

In monumental painting the interval between the early Christian mosaics and mural pictures and the revival of the f3th century is filled by a series of wall and ceiling paintings of Carolingian, Romanesque and early Gothic date, in Italy, Germany and England. The earliest of which account need be taken are those in the recently excavated church of S. Maria Antiqua by the Forum at Rome (Rushworth, in Papers of the British School at Rome, vol. i., London, 1902), where there is a complete and, on the whole, well-preserved series consisting for the most part in single figures and simply composed scenes. Most of the work can be dated to the time of Pope John VII. at the beginning of the 8th century. Its style shows a mixture of Byzantine motives with elements that are native to Rome. It must be remembered that at the time Rome was strongly under Byzantine influence. Passing over some more fragmentary specimens, we may refer next to several series of mural paintings in and near the island of Reichenau at the western end of the lake of Constance, where a school of painting flourished in the latter part of the 10th century. The work here is quite as good as anything Ita]y has to show, and represents a native German style, based on early Christian tradition, with very little dependence on Byzantine models. The most interesting piece is the Last Judgment in the church of St George at Oberzell on Reichenau, where, in a very simple but dignified and effective form, we find the earliest existing representation of this standard theme of later medieval monumental art (F. X. Kraus, Wandgemlde der St Georgskirclze zu Oberzell auf der Insel Reichenau, Freiburg-i.-Br., 1884).

About a hundred years later, in the latter part of the 11th century, a mural painting of the same theme was executed in the church of S. Angelo in. Formis near Capua in southern Italy, the style of which shows a mixture of Latin and Byzantine elements (F. X. Kraus, Die Wand gemalde von S. Angelo in Formis, Berlin, 1893).

To the middle of the 12th century belongs one of the most complete and interesting cycles of medieval wall-decoration, the display of a series of figures and scenes illustrating the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, in the chapter-house of the now secularized monastery of Brauweiler, near Cologne, in the Rhineland. Here the pictorial effect is simple, but the decorative treatment in regard to the filling of the spaces and the lines of composition is excellent. The design is Rmanesque in its severity (E. Ausm Weerth, Wandmalereien des Mitlelalters in den Rheinlanden, Leipzig 1879). Romanesque also, but exhibiting an increase in animation and expressiveness, is the painting of the flat ceiling of the nave of the fine church of St Michael at Hildesheim. In the general decorative effect, the distribution of the subjects in the spaces, the blending of figures and ornament, the work, the main subject of which is the Tree of Jesse, is a masterpiece. Two nude figures of Adam and Eve are for the period remarkable productions. The date is the close of the 12th century.

Succeeding examples show unmistakable signs of the approach of the Gothic period. In the wall-paintings of the nuns choir of the church of Gurk in Carinthia, a certain grace and tenderness begin to make themselves felt, and the same impression we gain from the extensive cycle in the choir of the cathedral of Brunswick, from the first decades of the 13th century. The picture of Herods birthday feast is typical of the style of German painting of the time; there is nothing about it in the least rude or tentative. It is neither childish nor barbarous, but very accomplished in a conventional style that is exactly suited from the decorative point of view to a mural painting. The story is told effectively but in quaint fashion, and several incidents of it are shown in the same composition. There is no attempt to represent the third dimension of space, nor to give the perspective setting of the scene, but the drawing is easy and true and expressive. The studied grace in the bend of certain figures and the lively expressions of the faces are traits which prefigure Gothic art (see fig. II, Plate III.).

Distinctively Gothic in their feeling were the wall-paintings in the chapel at Ramersdorf, opposite Bonn, dating from the beginning of the I4th century. They are only preserved in copies, but these enable us to see with what grace and feeling the slender figures were designed, how near to Angelicos came the tender angels making music where the virgin is receiving her celestial crown (E. Ausm Weerth, bc. cit.). From the end of the 14th ,century, Castle Runkelstein, near Botzen in Tirol, has preserved an extensive cycle of secular wall-paintings, much repainted, but of unique interest as giving an idea how a medieval residence of the kind might be adorned. The style is of native growth and no influence from south of the Alps is to be discerned (Janitschek, Geschichte der deutschen Malerei, Berlin, 1890, 198 seq.). Technically speaking, all these mural paintings consist in little more than outlines filled in with flat tints, neither modelling of the forms nor perspective effect in the setting is attempted, but the work so far as it goes is wholly satisfactory. There is no coarseness of execution nor anything in the forms, gestures or expressions that offends the eye. The colors are bright and pure, the decorative effect often charming.

In the matter of panel paintings on wood, we have the interesting notice in Bede that Abbot Benedict of Wearmouth at the end of the 7th century brought from Italy portable pictures on wooden panels for the decoration,of his church, part of which still remains. The style of the painting on these, it has recently been noticed, would resemble the existing wall-paintings of the beginning of the 8th century in S. Maria Antiqua in Rome, already referred to. Movable panel pictures in the form of representations of the Madonna and Child were produced in immense numbers at Byzantium and were imported largely into Italy, where they became of importance in connection with the revival of painting in the I3th century. As a rule, however, paintings on panel were not movable but were attached to a screen, a door, or similar structure of wood consisting in framing and panels. This form of decoration. is of special importance as it is really the origin of the modern picture. The painted panel, which at first forms an integral part of an architecturally designed structure of wood, gradually comes to attract to itself more and more importance, till it finally issues from its original setting and, emancipated from all relations to its surroundings, claims attention to itself as an independent work of art.

Painted panels in an architectural setting were used for the decoration of altar-fronts or antependia, of altar-backs or, as they are commonly called, altar-pieces, choir-screens, doors of presses and the like; or again for ceilings. There was painting also on the large wooden crucifixes displayed in churches, where a picture of Christ on the Cross might take the place of the more life-like carved image. In Italy painted panels were used as decoration of furniture, notably of the large carved chests or cassoni so common at the epoch of the Renaissance.

Examples of early medieval date do not appear to have survived. In Germany, where, as has been noticed, the arts in the 11th and 12th centuries stood at a higher level than in Italy 2r elsewhere in the west, certain antependia or altar-fronts from Soest in Westphalia of the 12th century are said to be the earliest known examples of German panel painting. One is preserved in the museum at Berlin. A little later the number of such panels introduced as part of the decoration of altar-backs, generally with folding doors, becomes very great. Painted panels as part of the decoration of screens are preserved in the choir at Cologne from the middle of the 14th century. In Italy the painted crucifix shared popular favor with the imported or imitated Byzantine Madonna-panels. A good example of the early painted altar-screen is preserved in Westminster Abbey.

Later, in the 15th century, the painted panel, generally with a single figure of a saint, becomes a common part of the carved, painted and gilded chancel screen in English churches, and many specimens are still to be seen, especially in East Anglia.

II. Beginnings of the Picture: German and Early Flemish Panel Painting.From the decorative panels introduced into wooden screen-work was developed in Germany and Flanders the picture proper, the mural painting passing out of use owing to the prevalence in the north of Gothic architecture, which does not admit of wall spaces for the display of pictures, but substitutes as a form of painting the stained-glass window. In Italy, where Gothic was treated as a plaything, the wall spaces were never sacrificed, and in the development of the art the mural picture took the lead, the painted panel remaining on. the whole of secondary importance.

Priority in this development of the picture is claimed in Germany for the school of Prague, where a gild of painters was founded in 1348, but the first northern school of painting that influenced other schools and plays a part in the history of painting as a whole is the so-called school of Cologne, where painters such as Meister Wilhelm and Hermann Wynrich achieved reputation in the I4th century, and produced as their successor in the 15th Stephan Lochner, author of the so-called Dombild in the cathedral, and of the Virgin of the Priests Seminary. A little later than the earliest Cologne masters appears Hubert van Eyck, born near Maestricht at no great distance from the Rhineland capital, who with his younger brother, Jan, heads the Early Flemish school of painting. Hubert is one of the great names in the history of the art, and is chiefly responsible for the altar-piece of the Adoration of the Lamb at Ghent, the most important masterpiece of the northern schools before the 17th century, and the earliest monument of the then newly developed art of oil painting. Table No. I. in. Part II. of this article gives the names of the chief successors of the Van Eycks, and the school ends with the life and work of Quintin Matsys of Antwerp; in the first quarter of the 16th century. The spirit of the early Cologne school, and in the main of that of Flanders, is idyllic and devotional, but the artists of the latter school achieve extraordinary force and precision. in their representation of the facts of nature. They are, moreover, the first painters of landscape, for in their hands the gold background of the medieval panels yields place to a rendering of natural scenery and of effects of distance, minute in details and fresh and delightful in feeling. The famous picture ascribed by some to Hubert van Eyck in the collection of Sir Francis Cook at Richmoiid is a good example. The subject is the Three Manes at the Sepulchre, and the background is a wonderful view of a city intended for Jerusalem (see fig. 12, Plate IV.).

In Germany, on the other hand, the tendency of the 15th century was towards a rather crude realism in details, to which the higher artistic qualities of beauty and devotional sentiment were often sacrificed. This isa new phenomenon in the history of the art. In the older Oriental, the classical and the medieval phases of painting, though there is a constant effort to portray the truth of nature, yet the decorative instinct in the artist, his feeling for pattern, was a ~ontrolling element in the work, and the representation was conventionalized into a form that satisfied the ideal of beauty current at the time. Jan van Eyck was matter-of-fact in his realism, but avoided ugliness, whereas in Germany in the 15th and 16th centuries we find action and expression exaggerated to contortion and grimace, and all artistic qualities sacrificed to a mistaken idea of force. German art was, however, saved by the appearance of some artists of great genius who more than made up for the national insensibility to beauty by their earnestness and truth. Martin Schongauer of Colmar learnt his art from the painters of the Flemish Netherlands, and imbibed something of the feeling for beauty which the successors of Hubert van Eyck had never wholly lost. After Schongauer German art culminates at Nuremberg in the person of Albrecht Dflrer, and a little later in that of Hans Holbein the younger. Contemporary with DUrer, Mathias Grunewald of Colmar exhibits a dramatic power in his creations that compensates for their exaggerated realism, and Bartholomgus Bruyn, of Cologne, prefigures the future success of the northern schools in portraiture. In Germany, however, the wars of religion in the 16th century checked the further growth of a national art. Holbeins migration to England is a significant sign of this, and German art in this phase of it may be said to come to an end in the person of Adam Elsheimer of Frankfort, who introduced German painting at Rome about the year 1600.

In the Netherlands the early religious school ends, as we have seen, with Quintin Matsys, and the next generation of Flemish painters for the most part practise their art in Italy, and import Italian fashions into the painting of their own country. From the ranks of these so-called Italiahizer~ in the Flanders of the 16th century proceeds a little later the commanding personality of Rubens.

12. The Rise of Schools of Painting.The expression school of painting has more than once been used; what is the meaning of it? The history of painting has hitherto been treated in the article as a development that proceeded according to a natural law of evolution in independence of individuals. In painting, however, as in all the higher operations of the arts, the initiative of the individual counts for much, and the action and reaction on each other of individuals, and those groups of individuals whom common aims and practice draw together into schools, make up for us a good part of the interest of the historical study of painting. At certain periods this particular interest has been. lacking. In ancient Egypt, for example, and among the older Oriental peoples generally, schools of painting in the modern sense did not exist, for the arts were carried on on traditional lines and owed little, so far as records tell, to individual initiative. In ancient Greece, on the contrary, we find ourselves at once in an atmosphere of names and achievements which give all the glamour of personal and biographical interest to the story of art. In the early Christian and early medieval periods, we return again to a time when the arts were practised in the same impersonal fashion as in the oldest days, but with the later medieval epoch we emerge once more into an era where the artist of genius, with his experiments and triumphs, his rivals and followers, is in the forefront of interest; when history is enlivened with anecdote, and takes light and shade from the changing fortunes of individuals.

There is a danger lest ~the human interest of such a period may lead us to forget the larger movements, impersonal and almost cosmic, which are all the time carrying these individuals and groups forward on their destined course. The history of painting cannot be understood if it be reduced to a notice, however full, of separate schools or to a series of biographies~ fascinating as these may be made, of individual artists. Hence in what follows it is still the main course of the development of the art in its relation to nature that will be kept in view, while the information about names and dates and mutual relations of artists and schools, which is in its own way equally important, will be furnished in the tables constituting Part II. of this article.

What has just been said will prepare the reader for the fact that the first schools of painting here mentioned are those of Germany and Flanders, not those of Italy, though the latter are more important as well as actually prior in point of time.

13. The Gothic Movement and the Proto-Renaissance, in their Influence on Painting -north and south of the Alps.The revival of the arts of sculpture and painting in the Italy of the last part of the I3th century was an event of capital importance, not only for that country but for the west at large. Its importance has, however, been exaggerated, when it has been said to imply the rediscovery of the arts after a period in which they had suffered an. entire eclipse. So far as Italy is concerned, both sculpture and painting had in the previous period sunk to a level so low that they could hardly be said to exist, but at the same epoch in lands north of the Alps they were producing works of considerable merit. Romanesque wall-painting of the 12th century, as represented in some Rhineland churches and cloisters, is immeasurably better than anything of the same period south of the Alps. In the ~rts of construction and ornament the lead remained for a long time with the northern peoples, and in every branch of decorative work with the exception of mosaic the craftsmanship of Germany and France surpassed anything that native Italian workmen could produce. By the middle of the 12th century the intellectual and social activity of the French people was accompanied by an artistic movement that created the most complex and beautiful architectural monuments that the world has seen. The adornment of the great French Gothic cathedral was as artistically perfect as its fabric was noble. For one, at any rate, of the effects at which the painter aims, that of glowing and sumptuous color, nothing can surpass th~ stained-glass windows of the Gothic churches, while the exteriors of the same buildings were enriched with hundreds of statues of monumental dignity endowect with a grace and expressiveness that reflect the spirit of the age.

The Gothic age in France was characterized by humanity, tenderness and the love of nature, and there are few epochs in human history the spirit of which is to us more congenial. The 12th century, which witnessed the growth of the various elements of culture that combined to give the age its ultimate character, saw also a movement of revival in another sphere. The reference is to what has been aptly termed a Proto-Renaissance, the characteristic of which was a fresh int


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Painting'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/p/painting.html. 1910.

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