ANCIENT GREECE AND ITALY.

The art of Apelles was full of grace and sweetness, and the finish of his pictures was exquisite. The saying, “leave off in time,” originated in his criticism of Protogenes, of whom he said that he was his superior except that he did not know when to leave off, and by too much finishing lessened the effect of his work. Apelles was modest and generous: he was the first to praise Protogenes, and conferred a great benefit upon the latter by buying up his pictures, and giving out word that he was going to sell them as his own. Apelles was never afraid to correct those who were ignorant, and was equally ready to learn from any one who could teach him anything. It is said that on one occasion, when Alexander was in his studio, and talked of art, Apelles advised him to be silent lest his color-grinder should laugh at him. Again, when he had painted a picture, and exposed it to public view, a cobbler pointed out a defect in the shoe-latchet; Apelles changed it, but when the man next proceeded to criticise the leg of the figure, Apelles replied, “Cobbler, stick to your last.” These sayings have descended to our own day, and have become classical. All these anecdotes from so remote a time are in a sense doubtful; but they are very interesting—young people ought to be familiar with them, but it is also right to say that they are not known to be positively true.

Protogenes of Rhodes, to whom Apelles was so friendly, came to be thought a great painter. It is said that when Demetrius made war against Rhodes the artist did not trouble himself to leave his house, which was in the very midst of the enemy’s camp. When questioned as to his fearlessness he replied, “Demetrius makes war against the Rhodians, and not against the Arts.” It is also said that after hearing of this reply Demetrius refrained from burning the town, in order to preserve the pictures of Protogenes.

The ancient writers mention many other Greek painters, but none as important as those of whom we have spoken. Greek painting never reached a higher point than it had gained at the beginning of the Hellenistic age. Every kind of painting except landscape-painting had been practised by Greek artists; but that received no attention until figure-painting had declined. Vitruvius mentions that the ancients had some very important wall-paintings consisting of simple landscapes, and that others had landscape backgrounds with figures illustrating scenes from the poems of Homer. But we have no reason to believe that Greek landscape-painting was ever more than scenic or decorative work, and thus fell far short of what is now the standard for such painting.

The painting of the early Romans was principally derived from or through the early Etruscans, and the Etruscans are believed to have first learned their art from Greek artists, who introduced plastic art into Italy as early as b.c. 655, when Demaratus was expelled from Corinth—and later, Etruscan art was influenced by the Greek colonies of Magna Græcia. So it is fair to say that Etruscan art and early Roman art were essentially Greek art. The earliest artists who are known to have painted in Rome had Greek names, such as Ekphantos, Damophilos, and Gargasos. Later on in history there are painters mentioned with Latin names, but there is little of interest related concerning them; in truth, Ludius (who is also called by various authors Tadius and Studius) is the only really interesting ancient Roman painter of whom we know. He lived in the time of Augustus, and Pliny said of him: “Ludius, too, who lived in the age of the divine Augustus, must not be cheated of his fame. He was the first to bring in a singularly delightful fashion of wall-painting—villas, colonnades, examples of landscape-gardening, woods and sacred groves, reservoirs, straits, rivers, coasts, all according to the heart’s desire—and amidst them passengers of all kinds on foot, in boats, driving in carriages, or riding on asses to visit their country properties; furthermore fishermen, bird-catchers, hunters, vintagers; or, again, he exhibits stately villas, to which the approach is through a swamp, with men staggering under the weight of the frightened women whom they have bargained to carry on their shoulders; and many another excellent and entertaining device of the same kind. The same artist also set the fashion of painting views—and that wonderfully cheap—of seaside towns in broad daylight.”

We cannot think that Ludius was the first painter, though he may have been the first Roman painter, who made this sort of pictures, and he probably is the only one of whose work any part remains. Brunn and other good authorities believe that the wall-painting of Prima Porta, in Rome, was executed by Ludius. It represents a garden, and covers the four walls of a room. It is of the decorative order of painting, as Pliny well understood, for he speaks of the difference between the work of Ludius and that of the true artists who painted panel pictures and not wall-paintings. After the time of Ludius we can give no trustworthy account of any fine, Roman painter.

Fig 5 Fig. 5.—Etruscan Wall-painting.

The works of the ancient painters which still remain in various countries are wall-paintings, paintings on vases, mosaics, paintings on stone, and certain so-called miniatures; and besides these principal works there are many small articles, such as mirrors, toilet-cases, and other useful objects, which are decorated in colors.