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FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Chambers's London Journal
Chambers's London Journal of History, Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure, v. 2, no. 62, Ju...
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Chambers's London Journal of History, Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure, v. 2, no. 62, July 30, 1842.
Blanchard, Edward Litt Leman.
11 October 2015
London: W. Strange ... W. Clements ... and G. Berger
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Disclaimer of Endorsement
rs I 9"’=g- ‘ “I " ggk y, ii “ av nnncanox MEN ntcoin: nssv 1-o LEAD, B171‘ nnrncutr TD nnnrn-cnsr 1'0 covznxpnnr mrossnzzn ro ENSLAVE."-l.uRD nnouci-Luv. NUMBER 62. SATURDAY, .lUl.Y so, 1842. A On the Origin and Culture of the Fine Arts. BY THE EDITOR. Ir hasbeen the high aim and constant objectofthe con- ductor of this periodical, to impress the minds of his readers with the conviction that of all the various doc- trines taught by the Scholiasts of the present day, none ismore dangerous to the welfare or happiness of the community than that, that incnlcatcs a contemptuous disregard for the Fine Arts. For the better manifesta- tion of this, we have endeavoured to enlist under our banners the greatest and most experienced generals in the worlds of poetry and prose, that science and litera- ture may go hand in hand; for this have we endea- voured to invest even the least attractive subjects with the most seductive colours; for this have we zealously wrought to lreep pace with the progress that music, painting, poetry, and sculpture have made, and are still making ; and for this have we consumed the midnight oil in weary vigils for the benefit of others. A love of the ornamental and imitative arts is so interwoven with the moral existence of man, that there is scarcely any portion of the whole globe but is more or less cheered by their genial influence, and scarcely a page of history but is enlightened by their rays and brightened by their association. It is art in every country that gladdens, ennobles, and sustains intellectual exertion. It is art which speaks of man to future ages, and proudly pro- claims it is here he has existed ; it is here the benevo- lent affections, the social intercourse, the first flowers of civilization have been cultivated ; it is here that the face of nature has worn R brighter aspect than before; it is here that pleasure has gone hand in hand with philo- sophy ; here that the first emotions of the human intellect have been grafted upon fruitful boughs. Prompted by an amiable sentiment pf gratitude to- wards the past benefactors of the human race, we in- dulge with anxiety in such enquiries as tend to develope the source of such advantages as we enjoy. Which, then, was the first born ofthn imitative arts,and what country had the honour offirnt giving them birth? Did they travel from India to Egypt, or to the Peninsula of Ilindostanl Or from the plains of Shinaar to both 7 These are questions upon which much learned industry has been employed, much fruitless discussion arisen. Indigenous to every soil, the fine arts have expanded in every cli- mate with the expanding faculties ofman. ‘Va are not to suppose that the several modes of art, like man him- self, migrated from country to country. The imperish- able nature of the substance on which some of them were ancientl y exerted, persuade us that more countries than one may justly claim the honour of their nativity. Sculpture, as we shall endeavour to show, was prac- tised in Assyria many centuries before it was invented in Greece ; and the remote regions of India and Egypt may, with equal justice, assert claims to the spontaneous production of engraving, whilst China may contend with them all for the palm of early painting. The human mind, it will doubtless be admitted, under similar circumstances will be impelled to similar pur- suits. If in the new world, as we have shown in our consecutive articles relative to the antiquities contained in the British Museum, carved and engraved canoes and wnrimplements were found at the Friendly and South Sea Islands, picture-writing at Mexico, and sculptured idols both at New Zealand and the Sandwich Islands, there is little reason to doubt the double invention of plastic art in the world of antiquity; and it may even be urged that sculpture in relieve was practised in the No. :0.-Vol. ll. . more eastern countries for ages before, and whilst the Greeks were only beginning to emerge from a state of the grossest harbarism and the most profound igno- rance. Even the Scriptural accounts of imitative art, though of very remote antiquity, do not carry us back to the origin of either modelling,‘ sculpture, or paint- ing. That the latter art is of subsequent invention to the former appears highly probable, both from the testimony and the silence of Moses and llomer. The Decalogue, which forbad the Hebrews to worship graven images, says nothing of the far more fascinating art- as it would be considered by the multitude-of painting, So much more likely had it existed to have seduced them from the worship of the true and unseen God. From the eighteenth chapter of Genesis, we learn that signals (engraved seal-rings) were so common as to be worn by the sons of Jacob, even before their expulsion by famine to the land of Egypt; and when there, we read in the forty-first chapter of the same book, that " Pharoah took the ring from off his hand, and put it on the hand of Joseph.” When Laban pursues and over- takes Jacob, lie reproachfull says to him, “ Wherefore hast thou stolen avvaymy goods! Now Rachel had taken the imngts and put them in the camel‘: furniture.” From this passage it would appear that the worship of the Tcrapluim, Cares, Pcnatcs, or household Gods of Antiquity, as well as the knowledge and conse- quent practice of modelling, may be traced to an era prior by several ages to the birth of Moses. Cedrenus further asserts that Abraham burned the idols of Terah, his father, and that Serug, the progenitor of Abraham, and the sixth in descent of Shem, the son of Noah, was, as well as Terah, a modeller of images. Now, from all this, it is highly probable that the same plastic material of which the Babylonian bricks were moulded, and with which, according to the l’entateuch,I5al>el was built, drst invited the hand, and called forth the inge- nuity of the modeller; and we may thus, with great probability, reason that the Assyrian ancestors of Abra- ham were fabricators of idols, and, consequently, we may listen with less surprise to the various accounts that have been handed down to us of the apostacy of the Jews, and their proneness to idolise the gods of their Chaldean fathers, which elicited the repeated censure and severe prohibition of their legislators, and formed subjects for the subsequent lamentations of their pro- phets. In what country painting originated, would be nearly as ditlicult to discover, as it would be to find a couutrv where it never originated at all. Design, which is this basis of painting, as it is of nearly everything else, must have begun with the very first instrument of necessity which man required. And here, it should be borne in mind, that the origin ofany art, science, or discovery, is not. so much owing to the particular accident which happened to the individual concerned, asto the intel- lectual adaptaLion of that individual to receive impres- sions of a peculiar nature, from the particular circum- stance which occurred. Thus, whether music was invented by the man who, listening to the sound of the anvil, instantly composed notes, or whether painting was discovered by the lovely girl who, watching the shadow of her lover, as he sat silently sorrowful at the prospect of parting, traced it upon the wall asa memento of their mutual sdectian, the inherent principle is still the same. Without an innate susceptibility to the impressions of sound, in preference to all other impressions, in the man, or an innate susceptibility to the impressions offnrm in the girl equally as intense, the intellectual faculties of PRICE THREE I‘lALFPElVCE. neither would have been capable of exciting them to compose notes, or define figures. e art originated with the drst man who was born with such an acute sensibility to the beauty of form, colour, light, and shadow, as to be impelled to convey his thoughts by positive imitation. When thespaniards landedin South America, the mode by which the mtives conveyed intelligence of their arrival to the king, Mon- tezuma, was by painting the clothes, looks, appearance, and ships of the strangers. This, certainly, must have been the most ancient, because the most simple and obvious, mode in the world of conveying thought after oral communication. But, setting aside theory, there can be no doubt of the very great antiquity ofpainting. We have it upon undoubted authority, that the walls of Babylon were painted after nature with different species of animals, hunting expeditions, and combats. Semi- ramis was represented on horseback, striking a leopard with a dart, and her husband Ninns wounding a lion. In Ezekiel we read, in the 18th verse oftha llth chapter- “ And behold I went in and saw every fomi of creeping things and abominable beasts, and all the idols ofthehouso of Israel, pourlrayed on the wall round about." That the prophet here alludes to painting is too palpable to admit of dispute. But that there may be stilLlcss doubt upon the subject, in a succeeding chapter we find, “ She saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chal- deans pom-tnzyeil in oermilian, girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, and all ofthem princes to look at, after the manner of the Babylonians and Chaldeans.” This renders the sup- position a certainty. ' From Asiatic art we have long been accustomed to turn to the Eg ptians ; but it is now proved beyond all mere speculation, that the Ethiopians preceded the latter in knowledge, and that from this ancient people the latter received all they knew of art. But to show the early age in which it arose, we have evidvnce of the ex- istence of Egyptian painting and sculpture more than eighteen centuries before the birth of Christ-a time that is as considerable as the years that have elapsed since. But what renders it still more remark- able, is a knowledge of the fact, that even then Egyptian school ever attained. But this will form an interesting subject for discussion hereafter. We would merely add, by way of conclusion, that the first grand step towards excelling or approaching the fine arts is to cultivate taste, by which the real beauties in each ob- ject are distinguished. In the hoe arts, and all the subjects they embrace, there should reign an elevation of sentiment that perceives each object in the greatest perfection of which it is capable; and it should there be implanted in the mind as an unerring beacon to mark the track already trodden by man, and to point out the one to be hereafter chosen. Viewed in this light, the fine arts form thelinks of one mighty chain that serves not only to display the civilization gradully attained by man through ages past, but, from the consciousness it imparts ofsoul-felt genius, is astartling whisperer of the high hopes to be entertained by humanity for the future. ln prosecuting the enquiry which we have sketched out, frequent reference might be made to such of the existing remains of the arts of antiquity, but much would still be involved in obscurity. A glimmer- ing light on the subject is thrown from fables and ana- logical reasoning, but still some interesting truths spring up in our path as we proceed, which it is our intention in the course of this article to consider. the arts were at the highest point of excellence the ' s.,,,...,-..,.-4:1-m I