GREEK PAINTING.

Books Recommended: Baumeister, Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums—article "Malerei;" Birch, History of Ancient Pottery; Brunn, Geschichte der griechischen Künstler; Collignon, Mythologie figurée de la Grèce; Collignon, Manuel d'Archaeologie Grecque; Cros et Henry, L'Encaustique et les autres procédés de Peinture chez les Anciens; Girard, La Peinture Antique; Murray, Handbook of Greek Archæology; Overbeck, Antiken Schriftquellen zur geschichte der bildenen Kunste bie den Griechen; Perrot and Chipiez, History of Art in Greece; Woerman, Die Landschaft in der Kunst der antiken Volker; see also books on Etruscan and Roman painting.

GREECE AND THE GREEKS: The origin of the Greek race is not positively known. It is reasonably supposed that the early settlers in Greece came from the region of Asia Minor, either across the Hellespont or the sea, and populated the Greek islands and the mainland. When this was done has been matter of much conjecture. The early history is lost, but art remains show that in the period before Homer the Greeks were an established race with habits and customs distinctly individual. Egyptian and Asiatic influences are apparent in their art at this early time, but there is, nevertheless, the mark of a race peculiarly apart from all the races of the older world.

The development of the Greek people was probably helped by favorable climate and soil, by commerce and conquest, by republican institutions and political faith, by freedom of mind and of body; but all these together are not sufficient to account for the keenness of intellect, the purity of taste, and the skill in accomplishment which showed in every branch of Greek life. The cause lies deeper in the fundamental make-up of the Greek mind, and its eternal aspiration toward mental, moral, and physical ideals. Perfect mind, perfect body, perfect conduct in this world were sought-for ideals. The Greeks aspired to completeness. The course of education and race development trained them physically as athletes and warriors, mentally as philosophers, law-makers, poets, artists, morally as heroes whose lives and actions emulated those of the gods, and were almost perfect for this world.

ART MOTIVES: Neither the monarchy nor the priesthood commanded the services of the artist in Greece, as in Assyria and Egypt. There was no monarch in an oriental sense, and the chosen leaders of the Greeks never, until the late days, arrogated art to themselves. It was something for all the people.

In religion there was a pantheon of gods established and worshipped from the earliest ages, but these gods were more like epitomes of Greek ideals than spiritual beings. They were the personified virtues of the Greeks, exemplars of perfect living; and in worshipping them the Greek was really worshipping order, conduct, repose, dignity, perfect life. The gods and heroes, as types of moral and physical qualities, were continually represented in an allegorical or legendary manner. Athene represented noble warfare, Zeus was majestic dignity and power, Aphrodite love, Phœbus song, Niké triumph, and all the lesser gods, nymphs, and fauns stood for beauties of nature or of life. The great bulk of Greek architecture, sculpture, and painting was put forth to honor these gods or heroes, and by so doing the artist repeated the national ideals and honored himself. The first motive of Greek art, then, was to praise Hellas and the Hellenic view of life. In part it was a religious motive, but with little of that spiritual significance and belief which ruled in Egypt, and later on in Italy.

FIG. 11.—ATTIC GRAVE PAINTING.   (FROM BAUMEISTER.) FIG. 11.—ATTIC GRAVE PAINTING.
(FROM BAUMEISTER.)

A second and ever-present motive in Greek painting was decoration. This appears in the tomb pottery of the earliest ages, and was carried on down to the latest times. Vase painting, wall painting, tablet and sculpture painting were all done with a decorative motive in view. Even the easel or panel pictures had some decorative effect about them, though they were primarily intended to convey ideas other than those of form and color.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: The gods and heroes, their lives and adventures, formed the early subjects of Greek painting. Certain themes taken from the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" were as frequently shown as, afterward, the Annunciations in Italian painting. The traditional subjects, the Centaurs and Lapiths, the Amazon war, Theseus and Ariadne, Perseus and Andromeda, were frequently depicted. Humanity and actual Greek life came in for its share. Single figures, still-life, genre, caricature, all were shown, and as painting neared the Alexandrian age a semi-realistic portraiture came into vogue.