The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Philosophy of Fine Art, volume 3 (of 4)

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Title: The Philosophy of Fine Art, volume 3 (of 4)

Author: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Translator: Francis Plumptre Beresford Osmaston

Release date: September 25, 2017 [eBook #55623]

Language: English

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[Summary. Nature of the relation between the system of Art-types, or the collective totality of ideal world-presentments, and their objective realization in independent works of art. Nature of the process in the evolution of the specific arts themselves, and of the aspects identical in all. The origins of art. Grace, Charm, and severe or agreeable Style] 3


[The principle of differentiation as determined by the sensuous aspect of the subject-matter, and the relation thereto of the human senses of Sight, Hearing, and intellectual Conception. Insufficiency of such a principle of classification. Alternative principle discussed and illustrated of more concrete nature, in which the evolution of truth as the reality of the Idea itself is presented] 14


[Of the beginnings of human art, and that of building in particular. Of the nature of the subordinate classification of architecture viewed as symbolic, classical and romantic] 25

Division of Subject 26


Introduction and Subdivision 32

1. Works of architecture erected in order to unite peoples 36

2. Works of architecture intermediate between the arts of building and sculpture 38

(a) The influence of the generative activity of Nature on the form of buildings 39

(b) Further modification of similar conceptions in the obelisks of Egypt and other examples 40

(c) Temple enclosures, labyrinths, etc. 42

3. The transition from self-substantive architecture to the classical type 48

(a) The nature of subterranean dwellings 48

(b) Construction raised to house the dead in Egypt and elsewhere. The Pyramids 50

(c) Buildings that directly subserve a purpose as the point of transition to the classical type. The ordinary dwelling. The environment of the sculptured image. The adoption of the principle of expediency. The abstraction of parts of a building from the organic form, e.g., in the column 55


Introduction and Subdivision 62

1. The general character of classical architecture 63

(a) Serviceableness to a definite end 63

(b) The nature of the fitness or power of adaptation of such a structure to such an end 64

(c) The relatively greater artistic freedom of such architecture. Architecture as frozen music. The dwelling-house 64

2. The fundamental determinants of architectural forms in their separation 66

(a) Buildings of wood and stone. The question of their historical priority 66

(b) The specific forms of the parts of a temple-dwelling. 68

[(α) Features of support. The column 69

(β) The thing supported. The entablature, in its architecture, cornice, etc. 72

(γ) That which encloses. The walls and partitions] 74

(c) The classical temple in its entirety 77

[(α) The horizontal rather than soaring-up character 78

(β) The simplicity and proportion 78

(γ) The nature of its elaboration] 79

3. The different constructive types of classical architecture

(a) The Doric, Ionian, and Corinthian types, compared

and contrasted 80

(b) The Roman type of building. The vault 86

(c) General character of Roman architecture 88


1. General Architecture 89

2. Particular architectural modes of configuration 91

(a) As the basic form we have the wholly shut away dwelling-house 91

[(α) Relation of this form to the ideal character of the Christian religion 91

(β) Exclusion of light and access to mundane life

(γ) The aspect of soaring in tower and pinnacle] 92

(b) The form of the exterior and interior 92

[(α) The figure of the square and rectangular roofing not appropriate. Parallel between the vaulting of a Gothic church and a roofing of forest trees. Distinction between piers and columns. The pointed arch. Distinction between choir, transept, nave, and aisles. The baptismal font and entrance 93

(β) In contrast to the Greek temple decoration and and general co-ordination of parts determined from within outwards. The form of Cross. The doors. Flying buttresses, pinnacles, and towers] 100

(c) The mode of decoration 102

[(α) Importance of ornament to Gothic architecture 102

(β) Lightness and delicacy a prevailing feature, especially on the outside 103

(γ) Display of romantic imagination therein] 104

3. Different types of building in romantic architecture 104

(a) The pre-Gothic architecture distinct from it. The basilica 105

(b) Genuine Gothic architecture of the thirteenth century 105

(c) Secular architecture of the Middle Ages. The art of garden-making 106


[Sculpture makes a direct use of the human form instead of accepting a symbolical mode of expression merely suggestive of spiritual import. Does not primarily express emotion or spiritual life in action or the focus of soul-life. Absence of colour] 109

Division of subject 118


1. The essential content of sculpture 121

[(a) The twofold aspect of subjectivity. The province of subjective life as such to be excluded from sculpture. The Divine presented in its infinite repose and sublimity 122

(b) Presents a spiritual content only as explicit in bodily shape] 125

2. The beautiful form of sculpture 126

(a) The exclusion of the particularity of the appearance. How far relative 130

(b) The exclusion of incidental facial expression 130

(c) Substantive individuality 131

3. Sculpture as the art of the classical Ideal 132


Introduction and division of subject 135

1. The general character of the ideal form of sculpture 137

(a) The free product of the genius of the artist. General content borrowed from mythology, etc. 139

(b) The animation which results from the plastic perfection of the integrated coalescence of the whole throughout its definition and relief 140

(c) No mere imitation of Nature. The external shape must be suffused with ideal content] 141

2. The particular aspects of the ideal form of sculpture as such 142

(a) The Greek profile. Contrast of the human mouth with that of animals. The projection of the forehead. Position of nose. Consideration of the human eye and ear. Beauty of the human mouth. Treatment of the chin in sculpture, also the hair 143

(b) Position of other parts of the human body and the motion thereof 147

[(α) The nature of the relation under which the limbs are associated in their contribution to spiritual ideality. The upright position 156

(β) The motion and repose of the same in their freedom and beauty 159

(γ) The type of position and motion adapted to a situation (habitus) or bodily habit under which the Ideal is expressed] 160

(c) Drapery 160

[(α) Ethical origin and artistic justification of, in sculpture 161

(β) Treatment of it by Greek sculpture 162

(γ) Artistic principle as determining the right emphasis on ideal significance. Contrast between antique and modern sculpture in the use of it] 165

3. The individuality of the ideal figures of Sculpture 171

(a) Incidental attributes and style of drapery, armour, etc., treated by sculpture. Distinguishing symbolic accessories of Greek gods 173

(b) Distinctions of age and sex in gods, heroes, human figures, and animals 177

(c) Representation of particular gods 183


Introduction and division of subject 187

1. Modes of Representation 187

(a) The single statue 188

(b) The group. Tranquil juxtaposition. Conflicting actions. Niobe. Lacoon 190

(c) The relief 193

2. The material of sculpture 194

(a) Wood 195

(b) Ivory, gold, bronze, and marble 195

(c) Precious stones and glass 200

3. The historical evolution of sculpture 201

(a) Egyptian sculpture. Deficiency of ideal spontaneity. Position of hands and arms. Position of eyes 202

(b) Sculpture of the Greeks and Romans 205

(c) Christian sculpture 213


[The principle of subjectivity as such. How it is accepted as the essential principle by romantic art. The contrast presented by romantic and classical art in the changed point of view. The effect of such a change on both the subjective side of soul-life and the external aspect of objective presentment. The process of the gradual idealization of the external medium of art itself as illustrated by the particular romantic arts and the necessity thereof] 217


Introduction and division of subject 223

I. General character of Painting 225

(a) Fundamental definition of the art. Combines the subject-matter of architecture and sculpture. More popular than sculpture 230

[(α) Individuality must not be suffered to pass wholly into the universality of its substance. Introduction of accidental features as in Nature 230

(β) Greatly extended field of subject-matter. The entire world of the religious idea, history, Nature, all that concerns humanity included 231

(γ) A revelation further of the objective existence of soul-life. Vitality of artist imported into his presentation of natural objects] 231

(b) The sensuous medium of Painting 232

[(α) Compresses the three dimensions of Space into two. Its greater abstraction, as compared with sculpture, implies an advance ideally. Its object is semblance merely, its interest that of contemplation. The nature of its locale 233

(β) Its higher power of differentiation. Light its medium. This implies, even in Nature, a movement towards ideality. The appearance of light and shadow in painting intentional. Form is the creation of light and shadow simply. This fact supplies rationale of the removal of one dimension from spatial condition 236

(γ) This medium enables the art to elaborate the entire extent of the phenomenal world] 240

(c) The principle of the artistic mode of treatment 241

[Two opposed directions in painting, one the expression of spiritual significance by interfusion with or abstraction from objective phenomena, the other the reproduction of every kind of detail as not alien to its fundamental principle. Illustrations of the two methods and their relative opposition, or reconciliation]

2. Particular modes in the definition of Painting 244

(a) The romantic content 245

[(α) The Ideal which consists in the reconciliation of the soul with God as revealed in His human passage through suffering. The religious content. The Love of religion 247

(αα) The representation of God the Father. Generally beyond the scope of painting. The famous picture of Van Eyck at Ghent 251

(ββ) Christ the more essential object. Modes of depicting him in his absolute Godhead or his humanity. Scenes of Childhood and Passion most fitted to express religious aspect. Love of the Virgin Mary. Contrast with Niobe 253

(γγ) The ideas of devotion, repentance, and conversion as such affect humanity in general when included in the religious sphere. The pictorial treatment of martyrdom 260

(β) The pictorial treatment of landscape 266

(γγ) The pictorial treatment of objects in natural or secular associations. The vitality and delight of independent human existence. Art secures the stability of evanescent phenomena. The influence of artistic personality on the interest] 268

(b) The more detailed definition of the material of pictorial representation 273

[(α) Linear perspective 274

(β) Accuracy of drawing of form. The plastic aspect of a pictorial work 274

(γ) The significance of colour. Modelling. Of gradations of colour and its symbolism. Of various schemes of colour. Colour harmony. The painting of the human flesh. The mystery of colour The creative impulse of the artist] 275

(c) Artistic conception, composition, and characterization 290

[Painting can only embody one moment of time. Concentration of interest. The law of intelligibility. Religious subjects, their advantage in this respect. Historical scenes as appropriate to particular buildings. Unity of entire effect. Raphael's Transfiguration. Of the treatment of landscape as subordinate. The grouping of figures. The form of the pyramid. Comparison of the characteristic in painting and sculpture. The treatment of love's expression in religious subjects. The gradual elaboration of the portrait. The situation which is itself a critical moment in characterization] 291

3. The historical development of Painting 313

(a) Byzantine painting 315

(b) Italian painting. General review of its spirit in religious and romantic subject-matter 317

[(α) Characteristic features of early type: austerity, solemnity, and religious elevation 321

(β) The free acceptance of all that is human and individual. The influence of Giotto. Later schools mark a still further advance in naturalism. Masaccio and Fra Angelico. The pictorial representation of secular subjects 322

(γ) Further advance in power of emotional expression. Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, Raphael, and Correggio.] 327

(c) The Flemish, Dutch, and German schools 330

[(α) The brothers Van Eyck. Innocence, naïveté, and piety of early Flemish School. Contrast with Italian masters 330

(β) The emphasis by North German painting on ugliness and brutality 332

(γ) Dutch painting. Historical conditions of its appearance. General characteristics of Dutch art] 333


[Summary. The principle of subjectivity, as realized in painting, contrasted with its complete emancipation in the art of music. Annihilation of spatial objectivity. Motion with its resultant effect in musical tone. Analysis of the twofold negation of externality in which the fundamental principle of musical tone consists. The inner soul-life exclusively the subject-matter of music. Addressed also in its effect to such] 338

Division of subject 344

1. The General Character of Music 345

(a) Comparison of music with the plastic arts and poetry

[(α) Both affiliated to and strongly contrasted with architecture. It resembles architecture in the nature of the configuration of its content as based on rigorously rational principles directed by human invention. It supplies the architectonic of the extreme of ideality as architecture supplies that of the external material of sense. The quantitative or measure relation is the basis of both 345

(β) Music further removed from sculpture than painting. This is not merely due to the greater ideality of latter, but also to its treatment of its medium. The unity realized by a musical composition of a different kind to that realized by the plastic arts. In the former case subject to the condition of a time-series 347

(γ) Most nearly related to poetry. Employ the same medium of tone. Poetry possible without speech-utterance. Ideal objectivity of poetry as contrasted with the independence of musical tone as the sensuous medium of music. Music as an accompaniment of the voice] 352

(b) Musical grasp and expression of Content 357

[(α) Primarily must not minister to sense-perception. Must make soul-life intelligible to soul. This abstract inwardness differentiated in human feeling, of every description 358

(β) Natural interjections not music. They are the point of departure. To music belongs intelligible structure, a totality of differences capable of union and disunion in concords, discords, oppositions and transitions. The nature of its relation to positive ideas] 359

(c) Effect of music 361

[(α) The evanescent character of the objectivity of music. It seizes on conscious life where it is not confronted with an object. Its effect due to an elementary force. Appeal to man as a particular person. The soul made aware of its association with Time. Analysis of the notion of Time 361

(β) Must also possess a content. Orpheus. Incentive to martial ardour and enthusiasm 365

(γ) Necessity of repeated reproduction. Personal relation of the executive artist to the same. Excess of this influence] 367

2. The particular definition of the means of expression in music 368

(a) Time-measure, beat, and rhythm 371

[The relation of Time to the fundamental principle of subjective life. Time-measure prevents the series being indefinite and devoid of content, and further regulates by intelligible division the nature of its advance. Time-beat possesses the same function as the principle of symmetry in architecture. Coordinates a fortuitous variety. Distinct kinds of time-measure. Rhythm gives vital significance to the time-measure and beat. The accent. The rhythm of melody. The analogous example of verse. Handelian music]

(b) Harmony 379

[(α) Difference of sound through different instruments of music. Artificially made. Instruments which possess an oscillating column of air, or a stretched string of gut or metal which vibrates. The kettledrum and harmonica. The human voice. Can be employed in separation or combination 381

(β)Tone in its own essential definition. The constitution of harmony as such. The theory of intervals. The scales and keys. Numerical relations of tones and their pitch. Accordant and discordant tones. The octave and other intervals 385

(γ) The system of chords. The triad. Dissonant chords of the seventh and ninth. The resolution of a dissonance. Transitions and modulations of harmony] 389

(c) Melody 393

[(α) The more poetic aspect of music. Inseparable from the theoretical means which creates it. No real surrender involved in its subjection to rules of harmony 395

(β) Simple melodies. Folk-songs. Part chorales where each note of melody represented by a chord. Musical composition as an illustration of the conflict between the principles of freedom and necessity 395

(γ) General character of genuine melody. As such reflects free self-consciousness of soul-life] 398

3. The relation between means of expression in music and its content 398

(a) Music as an accompaniment 403

[(α) The melodic expression of such music. Ought not to fall into excess of tumult. Palestrina, Durante, Haydn, Mozart, etc. Beauty of Italian music 404

(β) The differentiation of the mode of musical expression must correspond with the nature of a specific content and its situation. Such a content supplied by the libretto. Distinction from this of a song. The recitative. Defective unity 408

(γ) The nature of the condition of concrete unity in the libretto and declamatory recitative. A good libretto not wholly unimportant. Must be stamped with self-consistency. The libretto of Mozart's "Magic Flute." Comparison of the sustaining soul of music with the fundamental beauty of Raphael's paintings. Different forms of music as accompaniment. Church, lyrical, and dramatic music] 412

(b) Independent music 421

(c) The artist as Executant 426

[(α) The ordinary executant who simply executes what lies before him. Comparison with the rhapsodist or reciter of Epos. Player must lose himself in music and reproduce composer 426

(β) The virtuoso, who himself creates and makes the music a means of personal display. Must not merely show eccentricity, but reveal the life of music and the force of a personality] 427



[Pg 1]



The objects treated by our science in the first part were the general notion and the reality of beauty in Nature and art, in other words beauty in its truth, and art in its truth, the Ideal in the as yet undeveloped unity of its fundamental principles, independent of its specific content and its distinguishing modes of envisagement.

This essentially genuine[1] unity of the beautiful in art, in the second place, unfolded itself within its own resources in a totality of art-forms, whose determinate structure defined at the same time the content which the art-spirit was impelled to fashion from itself in an essentially articulate system of manifestations of beauty under which the Divine and human is envisaged to the world.

What still is absent from both these spheres is the reality that is present within the elementary substance of the external phenomenon itself. For although both in our examination of the Ideal as such, and in that of the specific modes of symbolic, classical, and romantic art, we throughout referred to the relation or complete mediation which obtains between the significance conceived as an ideal principle and its embodiment in the external or phenomenal materia, yet this realization merely retained its validity as that which was still exclusively the ideal art-activity in the sphere of general world-impressions[2] of beauty, in and through[Pg 2] which it is diffused. Inasmuch, however, as the fundamental conception of beautiful implies, that it make itself objective for the immediate vision, that is to say for the senses and sensuous perception as an external work of art, so that what is beautiful becomes only then itself through such a definite form appropriate to itself explicitly united with the beautiful and the Ideal, we have in the third place to review this territory of the art-product as actually self-realized in the entirely sensuous medium. For it is only through this final configuration that the work of art is truly concrete, an individual entity which is at once real, self-contained, and singular. The Ideal can only constitute the content of this third sphere of our aesthetic philosophy for the reason that it is the idea of the beautiful, in the collective totality of all its world presentments, which is thus self-realized in objective form[3]. For this reason the art-product is still, even up to[Pg 3] this point, to be conceived as a totality articulated in itself, nevertheless as an organism, whose organic parts, which—while in the second part of our inquiry they were differentiated under a collective concept of essentially disparate world-aspects—now fall asunder as isolated members, every one of which becomes independently a self-subsistent whole, and in this singularity is capable of bringing into display the totality of the different art-types. Essentially and in accordance with its notion it is quite true that the collective result of this new reality of art belongs to one single totality. Inasmuch, however, as it is a portion of the realm of the sensuous[4] present, in which the same is made real to itself, the Ideal is now resolved into its phasal states as a process[5], and confers on them an independent and self-subsistent stability, albeit they are capable of coming into juxtaposition, essential relation, and reciprocal reintegration with one another. And this real world of art is the system of the separate arts. Just as then the particular types of art, regarded throughout as totality, expose intrinsically a process, an evolution, that is, of the symbolical to the classical and romantic types, we find also, on the one hand, a similar advance in the particular arts, in so far as it is the very art-types themselves which receive their determinate existence through these specific arts. From another point of view, however, the particular arts have also themselves within them a process, a progression, independently of the art-types to which they attach an objective reality, a process which in this its more abstract relation is common to all. Every art possesses its spring-time of perfected elaboration as art, and on the one side or the other a history that precedes or follows this period of full-bloom. For the products of the arts collectively are spiritual products, and consequently are not at once to hand in their own specialized province respectively, as are the forms of Nature, but are subject to a beginning, progression, completion, and termination, a growth, a blooming, and a decay.

[Pg 4]

These more abstract differences, whose devolution we propose at the very commencement of our inquiry briefly to indicate, since it asserts itself equally in all the arts, are identical with that which it is usual to define under the name of rigorous, ideal, and approved style, when indicating the specific styles of art in each case, which are mainly related to the general mode of embodiment and representation, partly as considered in its external shape, and its possession or lack of spontaneity, its simplicity, its surfeit of detail, briefly in all its various aspects, according to which the definition of the content emerges in the external appearance; partly no less in its aspect of the technical elaboration of its sensuous material, in which the art in question gives determinate existence to its content.

It is a common assumption that art finds its beginnings in what is devoid of complexity and is natural. In a certain sense, no doubt, we may accept this as true. In other words what is rude and barbarous is without question, when contrasted with the genuine spirit of art, something both nearer to Nature and less complex. What is, however, natural, vital, and simple in art, regarded as fine art, is something quite different to this. All beginnings which are merely simple and natural, in the sense of uncouthness, do not as yet belong to the province of art and the beautiful at all as, for example, in the case where children scrawl simple figures, and with a few formless strokes would indicate thereby a human form, a horse, and so forth. Beauty, considered as a spiritual product, demands even from the start an elaborate technique, implies a long series of experiment and practice. Simplicity, when we refer to it as the simplicity of the beautiful, its ideal proportions, is rather a result, which only succeeds in overcoming the variety, medley, confusion, excess and incumbrance of its matter, and in concealing and effacing its preparatory studies, after much mediating work, so that at last Beauty, with all its unfettered spontaneity, appears to us as though liberated in one cast[6]. What we find here is very analogous to the behaviour of a man of education, who, in all that he says and does, moves[Pg 5] simply, spontaneously, and with ease, albeit he did not by any means start in the possession of such simple spontaneity, but rather has only secured such as the result of a thorough self-training.

For this reason it is no less in accordance with the nature of the fact than it is with the actual course of history that art in its beginnings rather presents us the appearance of artificiality and clumsiness, running largely into incidental detail, and generally overloaded with the elaboration of drapery and the environment of its subject-matter; and precisely in the degree that this external material is more compact and multifarious, to that extent that which is really expressive is reduced to its baldest terms; in other words what is truly the free and vital expression of Spirit in its forms and motion is that which is here least in evidence.

In this respect consequently the primitive and most ancient art-products in all the particular arts are the vehicle of a content that is essentially most abstract, such as simple tales in poetry, theogonies effervescent with abstract thoughts and their incomplete elaboration, single objects of sacred association in stone and wood and so forth, and the representation remains unaccommodating, monotonous or confused, stiff and dry. More especially in plastic art the facial expression is insipid with a repose which does not so much express spirituality in its essential penetration as a purely animal emptiness, or conversely is remorseless and exaggerated in its emphasis on characteristic traits. In the same way the bodily forms and their motion are devoid of life, the arms, for example, are glued to the body, the legs are not divided, or are clumsily moved, or in angular and constrained modes; and in other respects such figures are ill-shaped, suffer from narrow compression, or are excessively lank and extended. On the other hand we find that much more devotion and industry is spent upon accessories such as drapery, hair, weapons, and ornaments of a similar nature; the folds of the drapery remain wooden and independent, without being able to accommodate themselves to the limbs, just as we may often see for ourselves in images of the Virgin and saints of early times, where they are in part run together in monotonous regularity, and in part are continually broken up in harsh corners, not flowing[Pg 6] freely in their lines, but scattered about with diffuseness over too wide a surface. And in the same way the first attempts at poetry are full of breaks, devoid of connection, monotonous, dominated in an abstract way by one idea or emotion, or elsewhere wild, violent, the particular being obscurely assimilated, and the whole as yet not bound together in a secure and ideal organic unity.

It is only, however, after such preparatory work as the above that the style which is the main subject of our present inquiry commences with what is truly genuine fine art. In this it is no doubt in the first instance at the same time still austere, but already moderated with more beauty in its severity. This severe style is the more lofty abstraction of the beautiful, which comes to a stop with that which is of real importance, expresses and reproduces the same in its broad outlines, still disdains all amiability and grace, suffers the main subject-matter alone to assert itself, and pre-eminently expends very little industry and elaboration on what is incidental. And in doing so, this severe style also still adheres to the imitation of that which is immediately given to sense. In other words, just as, in regard to content, it takes its stand, so far as ideas and representation are concerned, in what is given it, in the tradition, for example, of a revered religion, so also, to take the opposite point of view, namely, that of external form, it will merely render assured the fact itself, and not its own invention. It is, in short, satisfied with the general broad effect that is educed from the fact, and follows in expression closely upon the growth and definite existence of this. In the same way everything that is accidental is held aloof from this type of style, in order that the caprice and spontaneity of the individual mind[7] may not appear to be involved in it. The motives are simple, the objects of representation few[8]; and for this reason no considerable variety in the detail of configuration, muscles and motion, is apparent.

Secondly, the ideal, purely beautiful style hovers between the simply substantive expression of fact and the fullest exposition of all that immediately pleases. We may define the character of this style as the highest degree of vitality[Pg 7] compatible with a beautiful and reposeful greatness, such as we admire in the works of Pheidias or Homer. It is a living presentment of all traits, shapes, modifications of such, motions, limbs, in which there is nothing without significance and expression, but everything is instinct with life and action, and testifies to the breath, or very pulse of free life itself on the merest glance at the work of art in question; a vitality, however, which essentially makes visible one totality, and only one, is the expression of one content, of one individuality of action.

It is in such a truly vital atmosphere that we find moreover the breath of grace poured forth over the entire work. Grace is indeed a concession to the hearer and spectator, which the severe style despises. At the same time, whenever Charis, that is Grace, is asserted in the presence of an onlooker, if only as an acknowledgement, a means of conveying pleasure, yet in the ideal style we find that such a presence appears entirely divested of any craving to confer merely pleasure. We may perhaps explain our meaning in more technical language. The fact or subject-matter is here the substantive in its concentration and self-absorption. During the process, however, that it is manifested through the medium of art, and is, so to speak, concerned to actually exist for others, to pass over, that is, from its simplicity and essential solidarity to particularization, articulation, and individualization, we may regard this development to an existent form for others as at the same time a kind of complaisance on the part of the predominant matter, in so far, that is, as it does not appear to require this more concrete mode of existence, and yet is wholly poured forth into it for us. Such a charm as this is only entitled to assert itself in such a style so long as what is really substantive also persists in undisturbed self-possession, as we may call it, over against the grace of its manifestation, which blooms forth entirely in outward guise as an original type of superfluity. This indifference of the ideal or inner self-assurance[9] for its existence, this repose of itself on itself is precisely that which constitutes the beautiful negligence of the grace, which attributes no immediate value to this, its mode of manifestation. And it is just in this that we must look for[Pg 8] the loftiness of the beautiful style. Beautiful free art is careless in its attitude to the external form, in which it refuses to let us see any peculiar movement of the mind, or any end or intention. Rather in every expression, every modification, it points to one thing only, and that is the idea and vital principle of the whole. It is only by this means that the Ideal of the beautiful style asserts itself, which is neither harsh nor severe, but already shows the softening influence of the cheerful notes of the beautiful. Though no violence is done either to any feature of expression, any part of the whole, and every member appears in its independence, and rejoices in its own existence, yet each and all is content at the same time to be only an aspect in the total evolved presentment. This it is which alone displays, alongside of the depth and determinacy of individuality and character, the grace of Life itself. On the one side we have indeed merely the substantial subject-matter predominant, but in the detailed exposition, in the lucid, and at the same time exhaustive variety of traits, which complete the definition of the appearance, and place it before us in its transparent vitality, the spectator is at the same time freed from the thing in its baldness, in so far as he possesses and is wholly face to face with its concrete life. By virtue, however, of the last mentioned fact, this ideal style, so soon as it carries this modification in its external aspect to yet further lengths, passes over into the so-called agreeable or pleasing style. Here we have the assertion of another intent than the mere vitality of the fact[10]. The giving of pleasure, the active elaboration in the direction of externality is asserted as itself an object, and is a matter of independent concern. As an example we may take the famous Belvedere Apollo, not indeed as itself belonging to this latter style, but at least marking the transition from the lofty style to that of sensuous attraction. And inasmuch as in an art of this kind it is no longer the single actuality itself to which the entire embodiment is referable, the particular details become under this mode, even though in the first instance still deducible from the central object itself and rendered necessary by means of it, more and more for all that independent. We feel that they are introduced, or[Pg 9] interpolated, as ornaments, intentional additions of episodical import. And yet for the very reason that they are only related to the object accidentally and only receive their essential definition in a personal relation to the spectator or reader, they flatter the individual taste[11] of such, to which their workmanship is primarily directed. Virgil and Horace, for example, delight us in this respect by an educated style, in which we can trace a variety of things aimed at, and an effort deliberately made to give pleasure. In architecture, sculpture, and painting, owing to this spirit of complaisance, simple and imposing effects of size disappear, and we find on every side small pictures standing by themselves, ornamentation, fineries, dimples on cheeks, elegant hair-dress, smiles, all the varied folding of draperies, enchanting colours and shapes, exceptional, difficult, but for all that unconstrained movements in the pose of the figure[12]. In the so-called Gothic or German art of building, where the same is carried in the direction of this spirit, we find decoration elaborated without limit, so that the whole appears to be little more than a collection of little columns with all the utmost variety of ornamentations, diminutive towers, spires, and so forth, which, in their isolation, please us, without, however, destroying the impression of the larger connections of the whole and the still insistent masses of the same.

In so far, however, as the province of art we have been discussing in its entirety gives way to this activity of externalization, this presentment of what is purely exterior, we may emphasize it in its further generalization as the effect, which makes use of as a means of expression what is unpleasing, strained, and colossal, the type of uncouth contrasts such as the prodigious genius of Michael Angelo often exploits to excess. The effect may be generally indicated as the excessive leaning towards an ulterior public, which results in the form no longer being asserted in its independent, self-sufficient and buoyant repose. Rather it turns round, as[Pg 10] it were, and makes an appeal at the same time to the onlooker, and strives to place itself in a relation to him by means of this manner of presentment. Both aspects, namely essential repose and the address to the spectator, must no doubt be present in a work of art; but these aspects should fall together in complete equilibrium. If the work of art in the severe style is wholly without qualification self-contained, without any appeal to the spectator, it leaves him cold. If, on the other hand, the appeal is made too directly to him, it creates indeed a sensuous pleasure, but loses to that extent its substantive thoroughness[13], or it does so without this thoroughness of content and the simple character of the conception and delineation therein contained. This passage from itself then merges in the accidental characterization of the appearance; as a result the image itself shares this accidental character, in which we no longer recognize the actual subject-matter and the form which is imperatively rooted in itself, but rather the poet and artist with his own personal designs, his peculiar type of production and skill. And for this reason the public is entirely released from the essential content of the work, finding itself by means of it placed in a personal relation[14] to the artist, inasmuch as everything now wholly depends on its seeing that which the artist through his art intended, that is, the cunning and personal skill which is embodied in his grasp of his subject and its execution. To be thus brought into personal community of insight and critical acumen with the artist is for most people a flattering concession; and our reader or audience, and very possibly the spectator of plastic art, with even more readiness wonder at their poet, musician, or painter or sculptor respectively; and the vanity of such is all the better satisfied in proportion as the work invites them to this personal criticism, and supplies them openly with hints of such designs and points of view. In the severe style, on the contrary, no such confidences are made over to the spectator at all. What we[Pg 11] have is just the substantive nature of the content, which in its representation austerely, and even harshly, repulses the purely personal quest. A repulse of this kind will often be no doubt merely indicative of the spleen of the artist, who, after entrusting a profound significance to his work, instead of making the exposition of the same free, transparent, and buoyant, deliberately makes it hard to follow. A trade in mysteries of this kind is also nothing but another form of affectation, and a spurious alternative to the complaisance we have criticized.

It is pre-eminently in the work of the French school that we find this tendency to flatter, attract, and create effect, and they have in this way elaborated this easy-going and complaisant attitude to the public as the main object of their efforts. They seek to find the real importance of their artistic work in the satisfaction such affords others, whose interest they would arouse and whom they would duly impress. This tendency is particularly marked in their dramatic poetry. Marmontel, for example, gives us the following anecdote in connection with the performance of his drama "Dénis, the Tyrant." The crisis culminated in a question asked the Tyrant. Clairon, in whose mouth this question was put, when the moment for asking it had arrived, and when actually in conversation with Dionysius, made a forward step in front of the audience and dramatically addressed them instead. By this rhetorical effect the enthusiastic support of the entire piece was assured.

We Germans, on the other hand, require too much a content in our works of art, in the depths of which the artist finds a deliverance from himself, without troubling himself about the public, who is just left to look at it, take trouble over it, and help himself out with it, as he pleases or is able.

[Pg 12]


Approaching now, after these general observations we have made with reference to the distinctions of style common to all the arts, the division of the third fundamental section of our inquiry we may observe that the one-sided understanding has looked about in many directions for various principles of differentiation in its classification of the specific arts severally. The true division can, however, only be deduced from the nature of the work of art, which in the entire complexus of its forms[15] explicitly unfolds the totality of the aspects and phases which are referable to its own notion. And the first thing which asserts itself in this connection as important is the consideration that art, in accordance with the fact that its presentments now have definitely to pass into sensuous reality, becomes on account of this also art for the senses, so that the definition of this sense and the material medium which is applicable to it, and in which the work of art is made objective, must necessarily furnish us with the principles of subdivision in the several arts. Now the senses, for the reason that they are senses, or in other words, are related to a given material, a disparate exterior medium[16] and an essential multiplicity, are themselves different, namely, feeling, smell, taste, hearing, and sight. It is not our business in this place to demonstrate the ideal necessity of this totality and its disparate parts; that is the function of the philosophy of Nature. Our problem is limited to the inquiry whether all these senses, or if not, which of them are capable, by virtue of their notional significance, of being organs for the reception of works of art. We have already at a previous stage excluded feeling, taste, and smell. Botticher's mere feeling with the hand of the effeminately smooth portions of statues of goddesses is not a part of artistic contemplation or enjoyment at all. By the sense of touch the individual merely comes, as an individual endowed with sense, into contact with the purely[Pg 13] sensuous particular thing and its gravity, hardness, softness, and material resistance. A work of art is, however, not merely a sensuous thing, but Spirit manifested through a sensuous medium. As little can we exercise our sense of taste on a work of art as such, because taste is unable to leave the object in its free independence, but is concerned with it in a wholly active way, resolves it, in fact, and consumes it. A cultivation and refinement of taste is only possible and desirable in connection with dishes of food and their preparation, or the chemical qualities of objects. An object of art, however, should be contemplated in its independent and self-contained objective presence, which no doubt is there for the mind that perceives it, but only as an appeal to soul and intelligence, not in some active relation, and with none whatever to the appetites and volition. As for the sense of smell it is just as little able to become an organ of artistic enjoyment, inasmuch as things are only presented to this sense in so far as they are themselves in a condition of process, and are dissolved through the air and its direct influence.

Sight, on the other hand, possesses a purely ideal relation to objects by means of light, a material, which is at the same time immaterial, and which suffers on its part the objects to continue in their free self-subsistence, making them appear and re-appear, but which does not, as the atmosphere or fire does, consume them actively either by imperceptible degrees or patently. Everything, then, is an object of the appetiteless vision, which materially exists in Space as a disparate aggregate, which, however, in so far as it remains unimpaired in its integrity, merely is disclosed in its form and colour.

The remaining ideal sense is hearing. This is in signal contrast to the one just described. Hearing is concerned with the tone, rather than the form and colour of an object, with the vibration of what is corporeal; it requires no process of dissolution, as the sense of smell requires, but merely a trembling of the object, by which the same is in no wise impoverished. This ideal motion, in which through its sound what is as it were the simple individuality[17], the[Pg 14] soul of the material thing expresses itself, the ear receives also in an ideal way, just as the eye shape and colour, and suffers thereby what is ideal or not external in the object to appeal to what is spiritual or non-corporeal.

As a third accretion to these two senses we have the sensuous conception, memory, the retention of images, which appear in consciousness by means of the isolated perception, in this way subsumed under universals, and become related and united to the same by means of the imagination, so that now in one particular aspect the external reality itself exists both as ideal and spiritual, while that which is spiritual from another point of view accepts under the imaginative conception the form of what is external, and is brought to consciousness as a disparate and correlated aggregate.

This triple mode of seizing on reality offers art the well-known division into first, the plastic arts, which elaborate their content for vision in the external form and colour of objects, secondly, in the art of sound, music, and thirdly, into poetry, which as the art of speech uses tone merely as a symbol, in order, by means of it, to address itself directly to what is ideal in the contemplation, emotion, and imagination of our spiritual life. If we rest satisfied with this sensuous aspect of our subject-matter, as the final principle of its differentiation, we shall, in respect to our first principles, find ourselves in a difficulty, because the grounds of this division, instead of being deduced from the concrete notion of our subject-matter, are merely borrowed from the most abstract features of it. We have consequently to look about us once more for a principle of division that has deeper roots, which has, in fact, already been put forward in the introduction of this work as the truly systematic mode of dividing this third section of it. The function of art is just this and only this, namely, to bring before the grasp of the senses truth, as it is in the world of spirit, reconciled, that is, in its unity as a whole with objectivity and the sensuous material. In so far, then, as this is possible at this stage in the element of the external reality of the art-product to that extent the totality, which the Absolute is in its very truth, breaks apart into the various modes that differentiate it as a process.

The middle point, the truly substantive centrum, is given[Pg 15] us here in the representation of the Absolute, God Himself as God, in His independent self-subsistence, not as yet developed to the point of motion and difference, or advanced to the active operation of and separation from what is His, but presented essentially self-absorbed in supreme divine repose and stillness, briefly the Ideal embodied in a form essentially adequate to itself, which persists in its determinate existence in correspondent identity with itself. And in order that it may appear in infinite self-subsistency the Absolute must be conceived as Spirit, as conscious Subject, but as Subject which possesses essentially itself its own adequate mode of external appearance.

As divine subject, however, which passes forth into actual reality, it has confronting it an external world for environment, which, in conformity with the Absolute, must be built up to an appearance harmonious with the same, an appearance permeated with the Absolute. This environing world is then on one side the objective as such, the basis, the embrace of external Nature, which, taken by itself, possesses no absolute significance for Spirit, nor any ideality such as is present to individual consciousness[18], and consequently is only able to express by suggestion the spiritual Ideal which its appearance must seek to secure by embodying its embraced content in a world of Beauty.

In opposition to external Nature we find the ideal realm of consciousness[19], the human soul as the medium[20] for the existence and manifestation of the Absolute. Together with this subjectivity is conjoined the multiplicity and differentiation of individuality, particularization, distinction, action, and development, that is, in general terms the full and varied world of the reality of Spirit[21], in which the Absolute is known, willed, experienced, and actively present. We may already infer from what we have indicated above that the differences under which the total content of art is differentiated are in essential consonance, both for our grasp and presentation of them, with what we have previously in[Pg 16] the second portion of our inquiry examined as the symbolical, classical, and romantic types of art. In other words symbolic art only carries the art-process to the point of marking an affinity between content and form, instead of their identity, of only suggesting the ideal significance in itself and the content which that suggestion purports to express, in other words the external appearance[22]. It furnishes consequently the fundamental type to that specific art, whose function it is to elaborate the objective world as such, Nature's environment in the beautiful conclusion given by Art to Spirit (mind), and to image by suggestion the ideal significance of what is spiritual in this external medium. The classical Ideal, on the contrary, meets the case of the presentation of the Absolute as such, in its self-subsistent external reality, its essential self-repose, while the romantic Spirit (mind) type of art is, both in content and form, identical with the internal life of the soul, and the emotional life both in its infinite aspect and its finite particularity.

It is, then, on a principle such as the above that the system of the particular arts is differentiated as follows:

First, we have architecture, the beginning of all, whose foundation reposes in the very nature of its subject-matter. It is the commencement of art for this reason, that art at the start has in general terms neither discovered for the presentation of its spiritual content the adequate material, nor the forms that fully express it, and is consequently compelled to rest content in the mere search after such true satisfaction, and to do so in the externality of its content and its mode of presentation. The medium of this primary art is that which is essentially unspiritual, gross matter, that is, only capable of configuration according to physical laws of gravity. Its form is the image of external Nature, united by its regularity and symmetry in the whole of a work of art to express merely an external reflection of Spirit.

The second art is sculpture. Both for its principle and content it possesses spiritual individuality under the mode of the classic Ideal in the sense, namely, that the ideal and spiritual finds its expression in the corporeal appearance pertinent to spiritual life, which it is the function here of Art to present in existent artistic actuality. It consequently[Pg 17] still accepts for its material gross matter in its spatial extension, without, however, shaping the same in conformity to rule merely in respect to its gravity and its natural conditions according to the forms of the organic or inorganic, or in relation to its visibility in bringing it down to, and in all essential respects particularizing it in, a simple repetition of the external appearance. The form which is here, however, determined by virtue of the content itself is the actual life of Spirit, human form, and its objective organism permeated with Spirit's own breath, whose function it is to embody in adequate shape the self-subsistence of the Divine in its supreme repose and unperturbed greatness, unaffected by the divisions and limitations of human affairs, their conflicts and endurances.

Thirdly, we have to render intelligible in one final whole those arts whose province it is to give form to the ideal content of the individual soul-life.

The art of painting marks the beginning of this final totality. It converts the external form itself entirely into an expression of what is ideal[23], which within the limits of the environing world not merely reproduces the ideal self-containedness of the Absolute, but also brings to the vision the same as essentially a personal possession[24] in its spiritual existence, volition, feeling, action, in its activity and relation to another, and consequently also in its sufferings, pain, death, in the entire series of passions and satisfaction. Its object is for this reason no longer God simply, that is, as object of the human consciousness, but this consciousness itself, God, that is, either in His reality present in the action and suffering of individual life, or as spirit of the community, as the spiritual related through feeling to itself, soul-life in its resignation, its sacrifice of, or joy and blessedness in, life and action within the limits of the natural world. As a means to the presentation of this content the art of painting is bound to utilize the external phenomenon in respect to its form, not merely the human organism, but also Nature in its simplicity in so far as the same suffers what is of spirit to shine through with clarity. It is, however, unable to[Pg 18] utilize as material physical matter and its spatial existence just as it is; it is compelled, in working it up into its forms, essentially to idealize the same. The first step by means of which the sensuous material is raised in this respect to confront mind[25], consists, on the one hand, in the uplifting of the actual sensuous appearance, whose visibility is converted into the mere show by art, and on the other in colour by means of the distinctions, transitions, and modulations of which this transformation is effected. The art of painting, consequently, in order to express the soul in its ideality, resolves the three dimensions of space into that of superficies as that which most intimately asserts the ideality of what is external, and represents spatial distance and form by means of the phenomena of colour. For painting is not concerned with producing mere visibility in its general significance, but with that form of visibility which, if it is ideally produced, is also quite as much essentially particularized. In sculpture and the art of building forms are visible by means of external light. In the art of painting, on the contrary, the material which is itself essentially obscure possesses intrinsically within itself its inward or ideal, light in short. It is itself transfused in its own medium, and mere light is to that extent essentially obscured. The unity, however, and blending of light and dark is colour[26].

Secondly, the art of music offers a contrast to that of painting in one and the same sphere as the latter. Its real element is the ideal realm as such, emotion in its formless independence, capable of asserting itself not in externality and its reality, but purely through the external medium which disappears immediately when it is expressed and thereby cancels itself. Its content consequently consists of the internal life of Spirit in its immediate, essential subjective unity, emotion simply; its material is musical tone, its form and configuration, the concord, discord, harmony, contrast, opposition, and resolution of such tones according to the laws of their quantitative intervals respectively and their artistically elaborated time measure.

[Pg 19]

Finally, in the third place, after painting and music we get the art of speech, poetry in its general terms, the absolutely genuine art of Spirit and its expression as such. For everything which the human consciousness conceives and spiritually embodies in the chamber of spirit speech is able to accept, express, and bring imaginatively before us, and only speech is thus able. In respect to its content, therefore, poetry is the richest and its boundaries are the widest. But in proportion as it gains as the vehicle of Spirit it loses on the side of the material object. In other words, for the reason that it neither works for the perception of the sense as the plastic arts, nor merely for the ideal emotion, as music does, but is concerned to create its spiritual significances under the form of its own spiritual medium merely for the conception and contemplation of mind, the material through which its constructive activity is asserted only retains for it the value of a means, however much it may be elaborated in an artistic sense, by which Spirit is expressed for Spirit, and no longer counts as a sensuous mode of existence, in which the spiritual content is capable of finding a reality adequate to it. Such a means can in the light of our previous consideration only be tone regarded as the still relatively most adequate material of spiritual expression. Tone here, however, does not in the present case preserve, as was the case with music, an independent validity of its own for which the unique and essential aim of art could be exhausted in finding an artistic form, but conversely is entirely steeped in the world of Spirit and the definite content of conception and contemplation, and appears simply as the external symbol of this content. So far as the embodiment which the poetry receives is concerned, in this respect poetry may claim to include the whole field of art in the sense, that is, that it repeats in its own province the modes of presentation adopted by the other arts, which is only in a qualified degree the case with painting and music.

In other words poetry gives, on the one hand, as epic poetry the form of objectivity to its content, which no doubt here does not, as in the plastic arts, attain to an external existence. It is none the less a world conceived by the mind in the form of the objective world and represented as objective for the individual imagination. This it is which[Pg 20] constitutes human speech as such, which finds satisfaction in its own content and its expression by means of speech.

On the other hand, however, poetry is conversely to an equal degree speech of the soul, the ideal medium, which, as that inward content returns to itself, is lyrical poetry, which invokes the aid of music in order to penetrate yet more deeply the world of souls and emotion.

Finally, to take the third example, poetry proceeds through speech within the limits of a self-contained action, which it at the same time makes an object of its presentment, and consequently is able to ally itself closely to music, gesture, mimicry, and the dance. This is dramatic art, in which man, in all that the term implies[27], creatively presents the work of art which is the product of human life. These five arts form the system of realized and actual art, essentially determined by itself and differentiated as such. In addition to them there are no doubt other incomplete arts, for example, the arts of gardening and dance. These we shall only refer to incidentally as the opportunity recurs. A philosophical investigation must perforce restrict itself entirely to distinctions referable to the notion, and develop and grasp these adequate and veritable modes of embodiment. Nature and reality is not, it is true, confined to these circumscribed limits, but is more liberal in its movement, and we not unfrequently hear it made a matter of praise that in this respect the products of genius are perforce compelled to expand themselves beyond just such limitations. In Nature, however, transitional organisms of either hybrid or amphibian type, instead of emphasizing the spontaneity and excellence of Nature, merely demonstrate its inability to hold fast to the essential differentiations of species which are rooted in that process, or to prevent their deterioration before external conditions and influences. The same thing may be affirmed in art with regard to these intermediate forms, although the same are capable of producing much, too, that delights us, is full of charm and utility, albeit not in the highest class of perfection.

If we turn our attention now after these introductory remarks and considerations to the more specific examination of the separate arts, we shall find ourselves from[Pg 21] another point of view in some difficulty. For inasmuch as we have hitherto concerned ourselves with art as such, the Ideal and the general types, under which its evolution according to its notion proceeds, it is imperative to pass over into the concrete existence of art, and by doing so into the world of experience. Here we find a condition very analogous to that we observe in Nature, the provinces of which are readily grasped in their generality and the necessary laws which distinguish them, in whose actual material existence, however, the individual objects and their species, not merely in the aspects which they present to observation, but also in the form under which they exist, are of such a wealth of variety that, as a part of the difficulty, they offer as feasible every conceivable way of approaching them; and in addition to this the philosophical notion, when we are desirous of applying the standard of its simple lines of distinction, appears as insufficient for this purpose and the mere grasp of thought incapable of taking in the breath of such fulness. If, however, we merely rest satisfied with mere description and superficial reflections we fall short no less of the object we have set before us, that is, a development which is both scientific and systematic. Added to which difficulties we have the further one that nowadays every particular art makes the independent demand for a special science, inasmuch as with the continuous growth of connoisseurship in art the range of such special knowledge has become ever more rich and extensive. This science of the connoisseur, or dilettante, has, however, in our own times become fashionable under the direct teaching of philosophy itself. It has, in short, been maintained that it is in art we must look for real religion, the discovery of truth and the Absolute, that, in short, it stands on a loftier pedestal than philosophy for the reason that it is not abstract, but receives at the same time the Idea in reality and for a contemplation and emotion which are concrete[28]. And on the other hand it is regarded nowadays as of august importance in art[29] to occupy one's attention with an infinite superfluity of detail of[Pg 22] this kind, in the interests of which the demand is made from everyone that he should have observed some novelty or other. Such critical labour is a kind of learned trifling which may very readily be overdone. It causes, no doubt, considerable pleasure to examine works of art, to grasp the thoughts and reflections which such may suggest, to give currency to the points of view, which others have pointed out, and by this means to become judges and critics. The more rich, however, by this means, namely, that everybody is intent on having discovered on his own account something uniquely his own, a learning and process of reflection has become, the more every particular art, nay, every branch of the same, now renders necessary the completeness of a treatment of it from the individual's standpoint. As a corollary the historical aspect of such a survey and the criticism of works of art, which becomes inevitable, only add yet further to the learning and range of the subject. It is, moreover, essential before we take part in any discussion over the details of matters of artistic import that we should already have seen much and many times. Personally I have no doubt seen a considerable amount, but by no means all that is necessary to enable me to discuss the material of art exhaustively. All such difficulties, however, we may meet with the simple response that it does not lie within the aim of the present work to teach art-criticism, or to bring forward an historical review of such learning, or only to the extent such is necessary to apprehend on philosophical principles the essential and universal aspects of our subject, and their relation to the idea of the beautiful in its realization within the sensuous medium of art. If we keep this aim before us the variety of artistic effects we above indicated need cause us no embarrassment; for despite this complexity the essential character of the subject-matter according to its notional idea is the controlling factor; and although this is frequently lost in accidental matter by virtue of the medium in which it is realized, points of view are none the less in evidence, in which it is as clearly proclaimed. To grasp these aspects, and to develop them in a scientific way, is the very problem which it is the function of philosophy to elucidate.

[Pg 23]



Art, by enabling its content to attain a realized existence under a definite form, becomes a particular art. We may therefore now for the first time refer to it as an actual art and find therein the real beginning of art. With this particularity, however, in so far as it purports to bring before us the objectivity of the Idea of the beautiful and art, we have presented to us at the same time in its notional significance a totality of what is particular. For this reason when we now, in the sphere of the specific arts, begin our examination of the same with the art of building this must not merely be accepted in the sense that architecture asserts itself as the art which, by virtue of its notional definition, is first presented to us as such an object of inquiry, but we may equally accept as a result, that it is also in relation to its existence the art first to be considered. In supplying, however, an answer to the question, what the mode of origin was, which fine art, relatively to its notion and realized form, has received, we must exclude the experience of history no less than reflections, conjectures, and ordinary conceptions, which merely have reference to objective history, and are so readily and in such variety propounded. In other words, men are ordinarily actuated by an impulse, to bring before their mental vision anything in its original mode of appearance for the reason that the beginning is the simplest mode, under which the fact asserts itself. And connected with this impulse we have present behind it the covert conviction that the simple mode of appearance informs us of the fact in its notional significance and real origin, and the further amplification of such a beginning to the actual point in the process which only really concerns[Pg 24] us is further with a like readiness conceived under the trivial mode of thought, that a process so understood has gradually brought art forward to the crucial stage above indicated. A beginning, however, of this simplicity is, if we look at its content, something which, taken by itself, is so unimportant, that for philosophical thought it can only appear as wholly accidental, albeit it is for the ordinary consciousness only just in such a way that the origin can be readily grasped. For example, we have the story, as an explanation of the origin of the art of painting, told us of a maiden who followed the dim outline of the shadow of her sleeping lover. In the same way we have sometimes a cave and sometimes a hollow tree adduced as the point of departure in the art of building. Beginnings of this kind are so intelligible in themselves that further comment on the fact appears unnecessary[30]. In particular the Greeks invented many charming tales to explain the origins not merely of fine art, but also ethical institutions and other conditions of life, all of which satisfied the primary need to make such beginnings visible to the imagination. Such beginnings are not substantiated by history, and yet they do not aim at making the manner of origin intelligible directly as a process involved in the notion, but purport to confine their explanation to the field of objective history.


We have, then, in such a way to establish the beginning of art from its notional significance, that the first problem of art is made to consist in giving form to that which is essentially objective, the ground, that is, of Nature, the external environment, and by doing so to make that which is without ideal import to conform both to significance and form, both of which still remain external to it, for the reason that they are not either the form or significance inherent in the objective material. The art, which has set before it this[Pg 25] task is, as we have seen, an architecture which has already discovered its first elaboration under the modes of sculpture, or painting and music[31].

If we now direct our attention to the most primitive origins of the art of building, we find at the earliest stage that we can accept for such a beginning the hut, regarded as the human dwelling, and the temple, as the exterior enclosure of the god and his community. With a view to define this commencement more closely a dispute has been raised with reference to the nature of the material employed for building, whether, that is to say, it originated in buildings of wood, which is the opinion of Vitruvius, and is supported by Hirt in a similar reference, or rather from those of stone. This contrast of original material is no doubt of importance, for it does not merely concern its external quality as one might at first sight suppose, but rather the architectonic character of fundamental forms; for instance, the kind of decoration united with it is essentially bound up with this external material. We may, however, entirely set aside the distinction as a purely subordinate aspect of the matter rather referable to what is accidental and empirical, and devote our attention to a point of more importance.

In other words, in dealing with houses, temples, and other buildings we are confronted with the essential condition, to which we attribute the fact that buildings of this kind are merely means which presuppose an external end. Hut and house of God alike presuppose those who dwell in them, and for whom they have been erected, men and the images of gods. Man is also prompted by a desire to leap and sing; he requires the mediacy of human speech; but speech, leaping, shouting, and singing are not as yet poetry, the dance and music. And when[Pg 26] within the architectonic adaptation of means to ends in order to satisfy specific needs, in part referable to daily life and in part to the religious cultus or the state, the impulse in the direction of artistic form and beauty asserts itself, we find at the same time a division apparent in the kind of building above mentioned. On the one hand we have man, thinking man, or the image of the god as the essential object, for which, from the other point of view, architecture merely supplies the means of environment and covering. With such a divided point of view we are unable to constitute our beginning, which is in its nature the immediate, and simple, not a relativity or essential relation of this sort; rather we must look for a point of departure, where a distinction of this kind does not yet arise.

In this respect we have already at an earlier stage stated that the art of building corresponds to the symbolic type of art, and in a unique degree gives realization to the principle of the same as particular art because architecture generally is adapted to suggest the significances implanted in it purely in the external framework of the environment. If the distinction, then, above referred to between the object of the external cover independently presented in the living man, or the temple's image, and the building regarded as the fulfilment of such an object, is to be absent from our earliest stage, we shall have to look about us for buildings which precisely, as works of sculpture, do stand up in independent self-subsistence, which in short carry their significance in themselves rather than in some other object or necessity. This is a point of the highest importance, which I have never found raised hitherto, although it goes to the root of the matter, and alone is capable of disclosing the manifold nature of external forms, and of supplying a thread to conduct us through the maze of architectonic configuration. A self-subsistent art of building of this kind will also to a similar degree differ from sculpture on this ground, namely, that it, as architecture, does not create images, whose significance is that which is essentially spiritual and personal, and which itself intrinsically possesses the principle of an appropriated embodiment throughout adequate to its ideal import, but builds up works which, in their exterior form, can merely give an impress of the significance in a symbolic[Pg 27] way. And for this reason this type of architecture, both in respect to its content and, its presentation, is really of a symbolic type.

All that we have said with reference to the principle of this stage of art applies equally to its mode of presentation. Here, too, we find that the mere distinction between buildings of wood and stone is not sufficient, in so far as the same points to a means of limiting and enclosing a defined space for a specific religious or other human purposes, as is the case with dwellings, palaces, and temples. Such a space, may be obtained either by hollowing out essentially solid and stable masses, or conversely, by preparing walls and roofs to enclose it. We can make our beginning of the art of building with neither of these alternatives, which we should consequently define as an inorganic form of sculpture; such a type no doubt piles up independently stable images, but while doing so does not in any way make the end of free beauty and the manifestation of Spirit in the bodily form commensurate with the end it pursues, but in general terms sets up a purely symbolic form, which purports in itself to indicate and express a particular idea.

Architecture is, however, unable to remain standing at such a point of departure. Its function indeed consists just in this, namely, to build up external Nature as an environment which emanates from Spirit itself through the gates of art under the forms of beauty, and to build it for the independently present life of mind, that is mankind, or for the images of the gods that are set up and clothed by man in objective form, and to build up the same as that which no longer carries its significance in itself, but discovers the same in another, that is man, and his necessities and objects of family and State-life, culture and so forth, and by so doing surrenders the self-subsistency of such buildings.

Regarded under this aspect we may assume the advance of architecture to consist in this, that it suffers the above indicated distinction between end and means to appear in separation, and constructs for man, or the individual human form of gods, which is the work of sculpture, an architectural dwelling, palace, or temple analogous to the significance of the same.

[Pg 28]

And, thirdly, the termination[32] unites both phases in the process, and appears within this aspect of division as at the same time self-subsistent. These points of view present to us, as the classification of the entire art of building, the following heads of division, which essentially comprehend the notional distinctions of the matter in question no less than the historical development of the same.

First, we have the genuine symbolic or self-subsistent type of architecture.

Secondly, there is the classical type, which gives independent form to spiritual individuality, divesting on the other hand the art of building of its self-subsistency, and degrading it in the intent to set up an inorganic environment under the forms of art, for the spiritual significances which are now on their part independently realized.

Thirdly, romantic architecture, in other words the so-called Moorish, Gothic, and German, in which, it is true, houses, churches, and palaces are also merely the dwellings and places in which civic and religious needs and activities are concentrated; which, however, conversely are also shaped and raised without let or hindrance for the express object of emphasizing their self-subsistency.

Although on the grounds already advanced architecture in respect to its fundamental character remains of a symbolic type, yet the artistic types known as the truly symbolic, classical, and romantic constitute the closest means of defining it, and are here of greater importance than in the other arts. For in sculpture the classical, and in music and painting the romantic, penetrates so profoundly to the entire root-basis of these arts respectively, that for the elaboration of the type of the other arts[33], to a more or less degree, but little room is left for other aspects. And, finally, in poetry, though it is the fact that it gives the most complete impress in its art-products of the entire series of art-types, we shall find it necessary to make our classification not by means of the distinction between symbolic, classic, and romantic poetry, but according to the specific differentiation applicable to poetry as a particular art in epic, lyrical, and dramatic poetry. Architecture[Pg 29] is, on the other hand, art in its immediate relation to the external medium, so that in this case the essential differences consist in this, whether this external matter receives its significance intrinsically, or is treated as a means for an object other than it, or finally asserts itself in this subservience as at the same time independent. The first case is identical with the symbolic type simply, the second with the classical, the real significance attaining here an independent presentation, and in doing this the symbolic is attached as an environment wholly external to it, a type which is exemplified in the principle of classical art. The union of these two types is coincident with the romantic, in so far, that is, as romantic art makes use of the exterior medium as a means of expression, yet withdraws itself into itself out of this reality, and is consequently able once more by doing so to let objective existence stand forth in self-subsistent embodiment.

[1] Gediegene here seems to mean that the unity is a real one throughout all its manifestations—it is one of sterling efficacy.

[2] By the words die innere Produktion der Kunst is meant apparently "the creative activity of art-production as ideally conceived in a series of general world-impressions (Weltanschauungen)." The main contrast between the theoretic apprehension of such an evolution of art as a series, held in its broad generic outlines by mind, and its practical realization as differentiated in the actual products of different arts is sufficiently clear. The difficulty remains, however, as to how far Hegel regarded these Weltanschauungen in their universality to have themselves an objective significance no less than a subjective one—how far, in other words, are they merely abstract concepts of the observer, the schemata of scientific generalization, or do actually unfold an objective, if ideal process—how far is the thought one with the revelation of the Absolute itself. It is, of course, a difficulty not unknown to the student of Hegel in other directions. At least, as translator, I must content myself, as an excuse for obscurity in this and other passages, with drawing attention (a) To the main contrast which is quite clear, and (b) To the fundamental difficulty which remains. As a rule the word Weltanschauung is generally used rather in the sense of a world-outlook as from the point of view of an observer. In this passage, and still more obviously a little lower down, the sense appears to be rather world-presentment or manifestation—and the emphasis certainly on the objective aspect. Thus the Ideal of Beauty is defined as "the collective totality of its Weltanschauungen." How far within such, which have previously been called exclusively ideal (innere) can be incorporated the positive concrete embodiments of definite works of art is for myself the difficulty, which I do not profess myself to be able to solve. I am in fact not entirely clear as to the entire meaning of Hegel myself. The mere statement that the one is made objective by the other does not appear to me to remove the difficulty; for, to mention no other objection, a particular work of art is not exclusively either concrete or objective in the sense that an ideal process is so, or an Ideal which combines the ideal stages or moments in such a process.

[3] Welche sich objectivirt. See note above.

[4] The present, that is, which is objective to sense.

[5] So löst sich das Ideal in seine Momente auf. According to this it would appear that the process is wholly identified with the system of the particular arts. But the universal world-presentments are surely equally a process or at least an abstract of such a process. And this is in fact affirmed lower down.

[6] A favourite metaphor of Hegel. The idea is that the metal is all one infusion producing a result that is like the appearance of Athene from the brow of Zeus.

[7] Der Subjektivität. The mind of the artist.

[8] A misprint. Der should be die.

[9] Zuversicht. Confidence in itself.

[10] Die Sache. The fact, the artistic object primarily treated.

[11] Die Subjektivität. What is personal in the perception of judgment.

[12] A fine illustration of this passage is to be found in Miss Harrison's description of the Praxiteles Hermes in her admirable "Introductory Studies in Greek Art" (see chap, VI), a work every student of Greek Art should peruse.

[13] Gediegenheit. Sterling solidity. To understand all that is implied the above cited work of Miss Harrison is the clearest and most useful I know.

[14] In Unterhaltung. Finds himself, so to speak, directly conversing with him.

[15] Der Gattungen, i.e., specific types.

[16] Das Aussereinander. A differentiated exteriority.

[17] Subjektivität, the ideal unity that is—not so much as soul or personality.

[18] Kein subjektives Inneres. No ideal content that implies a unifying subject.

[19] Same expression as last note. An ideal realm in its aspect of relation to an individual soul.

[20] Als Element.

[21] Or reason (Geist.)

[22] As such content.

[23] This must be taken subject to qualifications which appear further on.

[24] An sich selbst subjektiv. As essentially appertinent to the individual soul.

[25] Sich entgegenheit dem Geist, i.e., raises itself as a medium opposed to—or, as we should say, subservient to.

[26] This is obviously a reference to the false theory of light advanced by Goethe and accepted by Hegel.

[27] Das ganze Mensch. The entire man with all his faculties.

[28] This is a reference, of course, to the Art Philosophy of Schelling.

[29] Zum vornehmen Wesen. Ironical, of course. It is part of the aristocratic pretensions of the connoisseur.

[30] He means that as an explanation they are obvious provided the facts are true, which he then points out in such cases is not so.

[31] I am not sure I follow the sense here. I presume the meaning is that, as notionally considered, we have to commence with an architecture to which other arts are already subservient. The process of elaboration has already been carried beyond mere architecture. And in this sense he calls sculpture an elaboration (Ausbildung) of architecture. But the addition of painting and music as such elaboration is, to say the least, an unnecessary obscurity. Such an elaboration of a primitive form of music is suggested lower down. But the conception appears to me rather confusing.

[32] That is the final phase, romantic architecture.

[33] Other than architecture.

[Pg 32]



The primary and original necessity of art is this, that a conception, a thought emanate from mind, be produced and emphasized by man as the result of his activity, just as in speech there are simple ideas which man communicates thereby and makes intelligible to others. In human speech, however, the means of communication is accepted merely as a sign, and for this reason is an entirely arbitrary mode of externalization. The function of art, on the contrary, is not only to make use of the mere symbolic sign, but, in contrast to this, to supply a sensuous presence correspondent to significances. On the one hand, therefore, the sensuous product, which art presents to us, must afford lodging for an ideal content; on the other it has to represent this content in a manner which enables us to see that it is itself as its content not merely a realization of immediate reality, but an actual product of human conception and its spiritual activity. If I see, for example, an actually living lion I deduce from the unique presentment of the same the concept of lion precisely as I should in the case of a picture of it. In the picture, however, we find something more than this. It demonstrates to us that the form has been conceived in the mind, and has found the origination of its existence in the human spirit and its productive activity, so that now we not only receive the idea of an object, but the idea of a human conception of that object. There is, however, no original artistic necessity that either a lion, merely as such[34], a tree, or any other single object be added for the success of such reproduction. We have seen, on the contrary, that art, and pre-eminently plastic art, proceeds with the presentation[Pg 33] of such objects in order to affirm in them the dexterity of the counterfeit from the artist's own point of view. The interest in its first origination is directed to bringing before the vision of the artist himself and others the primary impressions of the objective facts, and the universal or essential thoughts thus stimulated. Such popular impressions are, however, in the first instance abstract and in themselves of indefinite character, so that man, in order that he may present them to the imagination, lays hold of that which is essentially just as abstract, the material medium as it is—which is at once massive and ponderous—a material which is no doubt capable of a definite, but not of an intrinsically concrete and veritably spiritual, content. The relation between content and sensuous reality, by virtue of which the content is to pass from the concipient world into that of imagination, can consequently only be of a symbolical type. At the same time, however, a building, which purports to declare a general significance for others, stands there for no other purpose save that of essentially expressing this loftier aspect, and is consequently an independent symbol of a thought that goes straight to its essential import, and is of universal validity, a kind of speech which is present to spiritual life on its own account, however much it may not be expressed through sound. The products, therefore, of this type of architecture are necessarily stimulating to thought of themselves, and arouse universal concepts, albeit they fail to be the mere envelope and environment of significances which otherwise possess independent form. For this reason, however, the form which permits a content of this kind to appear through it cannot perforce merely pass as symbolic sign, as, for example, in the case when we raise a cross to a deceased person, or erect stones in memory of battles. For signs of this character are doubtless qualified to stimulate ideas, but a cross, or a pile of stones, do not suggest, in virtue of their own nature, the idea which it is our object to awake, but are just as able to remind us of much else entirely different. This distinction constitutes the general notion of the stage now discussed[35].

With regard to this it may be affirmed that entire nations have known how to express their profoundest requirements[Pg 34] in no other way than by the arts of building, or at least pre-eminently in an architectonic way. This has been, however, to an essential degree only in the East, as will appear from what we have already seen when we were called on to discuss the symbolic type of art. To an exceptional degree we may say that the constructions of the more ancient art of Babylonia, India, and Egypt—which we have now before us to some extent only in ruins, ruins which have been able to defy all ages and their revolutions, and which excite our wonder and astonishment as much on account of what is wholly fantastic in their forms as in virtue of their extraordinary proportions and mass—either completely bear this character, or in great measure are derived from it. They are works whose construction enlists at certain periods of history the entire activity and life of nations.

If, however, we inquire more closely into the classification proposed by this chapter and the heads of subject-matter comprised in it, we shall find that the point of departure in this kind of architecture is not, as in the case of the classic or romantic type, from definite forms similar to that of the house. In other words we have here no independently secure content, and with it no secure mode of embodiment, advanced as the principle thereof, which is forthwith related in its further development to the entire range of the different constructions. Rather the significances which are accepted as content remain, as in the case of the symbolic type generally, likewise inchoate and general conceptions, elementary, in many respects separated and interfused abstractions of natural life mingled with thoughts of spiritual activity, without being, ideally concentrated to a focus as the evolved states of one mind[36]. This aspect of dissolution gives them the appearance of the greatest variety and change, and the object of such architecture merely consists in emphasizing in its presentation first one aspect and then another, in making such symbolical, and, by means of human labour, making such symbolism apparent to us. Before a multiplicity of content such as this we cannot pretend in this discussion to be either exhaustive or systematic. I shall limit myself to an attempt, so far as this is possible,[Pg 35] to bring simply that which is of most importance into connection with a rational classification.

The prominent features of such a survey may be thus briefly enumerated.

As content our demand was for modes of view of a wholly general character, in which peoples and individuals possess an ideal resting-place, a point, a unity for consciousness. The proximate object, therefore, of such independent and self-substantive construction is simply to raise some work, which forms the unity of a nation or nations, a place in which its life may be concentrated. We may also find along with this the further object more nearly associated, to present by means of this very embodiment, that which generally unites mankind, in other words the religious ideas of nations, by virtue of which works of this kind receive likewise a more definite content for their symbolical expression.

Furthermore, in the second place, such an architecture is unable to remain fixed within the limits of this incipient determination of its entire content; the symbolical images tend to become isolated; the symbolical content of their signification is more closely defined, and by this means we find that the distinctions of their forms tend to come into more assured prominence, as for instance we see in the case of the Lingam columns, obelisks, and other examples of this kind. From another point of view the art of building, in the spirit of such isolated self-subsistency, presses forward in its passage to sculpture, its acceptance of organic animal forms or human figures, its enlargement of either and association of both of them, however, on a prodigious scale, in its further addition of walls, doors and passages, and throughout in its treatment of what is adapted to sculpture in such objects in an entirely architectonic manner. The Sphinxes, Memnons, and enormous temples of Egypt come under this category.

Thirdly, this symbolical art of building begins to present the transitional stage to the classic type. In other words it excludes sculpture from its immediate province, and sets about constructing itself as a receptacle for other significances, which are themselves not merely expressed under an architectonic mode. That the reader may better understand the process thus indicated I will recall to memory a few famous examples of such buildings.

[Pg 36]


"What is holy?" is a question raised by Goethe in a certain distich, and the answer he gives is: "that which binds together many souls." In this sense we may affirm that what is sacred, together with the end expressed in the above association, and as such association, has actually formed the primary content of self-subsistent building and the art of such. The earliest example of this we may take from the story of the building of the tower of Babylon. In the broad expanse of the Euphrates valley we are told that mankind erected an enormous architectural work. It is built by the labour of a community, and this public character of its construction is at the same time the end and content of the work itself. And what is equally true is this, that this foundation of an association of communal labour is no mere unity of a patriarchal stamp; on the contrary we find here that the mere unity of the family is precisely that which is set on one side, and this building, which is raised to the heavens, is the objective presentment of the dissolution of the more primitive type of unity and the realization of another of more expansive range. The collective activity of peoples belonging to that age worked in it; and, in proportion as they came together in order to accomplish a building of prodigious size, the product of their activity came to be the band, which, on the ground and soil they had thus selected, and by means of the accumulated mass of stone and the architectural construction on the land—just as in our case morality, custom, and the lawful constitution of State-life—bound them in unity together. A building of this kind is in consequence also symbolical for the reason that it merely suggests the band of unity which it is, because it is only able, by means of its form and content, to express the sacred unity which unites men in an external way. It is also equally a part of this tradition that the communities have once more split apart from the centre of attraction which united them on a work of this external character.

A further and yet more important building, which has,[Pg 37] too, already a more reliable historical basis, is the temple of Belus, of which Herodotus informs us[37]. We will not here inquire in what relation this stands to that of Biblical tradition. It is impossible to call this structure, taking it as a whole, a temple in any ordinary meaning of that term; rather we should call it a temple enclosure in the form of a square, each side of which was two stadia long, with brazen gates for means of entry. In the centre of this sacred place, according to Herodotus, who had actually seen this colossal work, a tower of thick walls (with no interior, solid throughout, in other words a πέργος στερεός) was built, both in length and breadth a stadium: on this was placed yet another, and again another on that, and so on, eight towers in all. On the outside of this a roadway was made to the top; and it appears that halfway up to the summit was a place of rest with benches on which all who ascended could rest themselves. On the summit, however, of the last tower there was a huge temple, and in the temple was a great bench, well cushioned, and before it stood a gold table. No statue, however, was placed in the temple. No one was permitted to be there at night with the exception of the attendant women, who, according to the statements of the Chaldaeans, the priests of this god, were selected by him pre-eminently for service. The priests further maintained (c. 182) that the temple was visited by the god, who rested on the bench made for him. Herodotus, it is true, also states (c. 183) that below within this sanctuary there was yet another temple, in which was placed a great image of the god of gold, together with a huge golden table before it, and at the same time refers to two great altars outside the temple on which the sacrifices were made. Notwithstanding these facts it is impossible to picture this gigantic building as a temple either in the Greek or modern sense of the term. For the first seven cubic towers are solid throughout, and it is only the eighth one at the summit which serves as a resting-chamber for the invisible god, who received therein no obeisance either from priesthood or the community. His image was below outside the building, so that the entire construction was raised in really independent and self-contained form, and did not subserve the objects of religious[Pg 38] ritual, although it is no longer a purely abstract point of unity that we find here but a sanctuary. The form remains no doubt subject to accidental causes, or it receives its determinate character purely on account of the material security of the cube form; at the same time we have evidence of a demand which seeks for a significance which may supply a determinate relation to it more directly symbolical and applicable to the work taken as a whole. We must look for this, though this is not a point expressly adverted to by Herodotus, in the number of the massive floors. There are seven of them with an eighth superposed for the nightly abode of the god. This number of seven in all probability symbolizes the seven planets and spheres of heaven.

We find also in Media cities built in accordance with such a symbolism. There is, for example, Ecbatana with its seven encircling walls, of which Herodotus[38] states that in part by virtue of the height of the elevation on the slope of which the city was built, and in part intentionally and by artificial means, they were higher one than the other, and their battlements were coloured differently. White was on the first, black on the second, purple on the third, blue on the fourth, red on the fifth; the sixth, however, was coated with silver, and the seventh with gold, and within this last stood the royal stronghold and its treasure. "Ecbatana," remarks Creuzer, in his work on Symbolism, when referring to this type of building[39], "that Median city, and its royal stronghold in the centre, with its seven circles of walls and its battlements of seven different colours, represents the spheres of heaven which enclose the stronghold of the sun."


The first point we have to consider in the further development of our subject consists in this, that architecture accepts for its content significances that are more concrete, and aims at their more symbolical presentation in accordance with forms that are similarly more concrete, which, however, whether we take the case of their insulation[40], or collective[Pg 39] accretion in gigantic buildings, they do not make use of in the way sculpture makes use of them, but architectonically in their own independent province. In the case of this present type we have to direct our attention to more specific facts, although all that we advance can put in no pretension to completeness, or an a priori development for the reason that art in so far as it proceeds in its products to embrace the full range of the actual, that is the historical ways of comprehending the world and its religious conceptions, is lost in aspects of a contingent character. The fundamental definition of the type is simply this, that we have a confused blend of sculpture and architecture, albeit the art of building is that which permeates all and predominates.

(a) We had occasion before, when discussing the symbolic type of art, to mention the fact that in the East it is frequently the universal living force of Nature, that is, not the spirituality and might of consciousness, but the productive energy of generation, which is emphasized and revered. More particularly in India this religious attitude was universal; also from its sources in Phrygia and Syria under the image of the great goddess, the fructifyer, a conception was derived which the Greeks themselves accepted. Still more closely considered this conception of the universally productive energy of Nature was represented and held sacred in the form of the organs of sex, Phallus and Lingam. This cultus was in the main promulgated in India, albeit also, as we learn from Herodotus, it was not wholly foreign to Egypt. At any rate we meet with something of the kind in the festivals of Dionysus. According to the statement of Herodotus, "they have invented other puppets as substitutes for the phalli of an ell's length, which the women draw about with a string, on which we find the sexual member no smaller in size than the rest of the body." The Greeks accepted a similar ministration, and Herodotus expressly informs us (c. 49) that Melampus had knowledge of the Egyptian sacrificial festival of Dionysus, and had introduced the phallus which was carried about in honour of the god. It was in India especially that the worship of the energy of generation assumed the exterior shape and significance of the organs of sex. Enormous columnar images were in this respect raised of stone as massive as towers and[Pg 40] broadening out at the base. Originally they were themselves independently the aim and objects of such worship; only at a later time it became customary to make openings and hollow chambers within them and deposit in these divine images, a custom which was maintained in the Hermes figures of the Greeks, little temple shrines that could be carried. The point of departure, however, in India was the phallus pillars, which had no such hollows, and which only at a later date were divided into a shell and kernel, growing thus into pagodas. For the genuine Indian pagodas, which should be distinguished essentially from later Mohammedan or other imitations, do not originate in the form of the dwelling, but are narrow and lofty, and receive their fundamental type from these columnar constructions. We find a similar significance and form also once more in the conception of the mountain Meru as expanded by Hindoo imagination, which is conceived as twirling stick in the sea of milk, and is the creative source of the world. Herodotus mentions similar columns, some constructed in the shape of the male, others in that of the female organ. He ascribes their construction[41] to Sesostris, who erected them everywhere on his military expeditions against all the peoples he conquered. The majority of such pillars no longer existed in the days of Herodotus. It was only in Syria that the historian[42] had himself seen them. However, the fact that he ascribes them all to Sesostris is merely based on the tradition he adopts. Moreover, his explanation is wholly Greek in its colour; he converts the natural significance into one of ethical import and in this sense informs us: "In cases where Sesostris during his expedition crossed nations which were brave in battle, he set up pillars in their land together with inscriptions, which gave his own name and nation, and indicated that he had subdued these peoples. Where, on the contrary, he overcame without opposition, he indicated on such pillars the female organ of sex without attaching an inscription in order to declare the fact that these nations had been cowards in battle."

(b) We find further constructions of a similar nature, intermediate, that is, between sculpture and architecture, principally in Egypt. With these we may include, for example,[Pg 41] the obelisks, which do not, it is true, borrow their form from the living organisms of Nature, such as plants, animals, or the human form, but are of a form wholly subject to geometrical rule, yet at the same time no longer constructed expressly as subservient to the human dwelling or temple, but are erected in free and independent self-subsistency, and possess the symbolical significance of the solar rays. "Mithras," maintains Creuzer, "the Mede or Persian, rules in the solar city of Egypt[43], and is there prompted by a dream to build obelisks, that is to say solar rays in stone, and to inscribe on them letters which are known as Egyptian." Pliny had already attached this import to obelisks[44]. They were dedicated to the sun's divinity, whose rays they were intended to catch and at the same time to reflect. Also we find that in the images set up in Persia we have rays of fire which ascend from columns[45].

After obelisks we should mention as most important the sculptured Memnons. The huge statues of Memnon of Thebes, of which Strabo was still able to see one fully preserved and made from a single stone, while the other, which uttered a sound at setting of the sun, was already in his day mutilated, possessed the human form. They were two seated colossal human figures in their grandiose and massive proportions rather inorganically and architectonically designed than in the strict sense sculptured, as also appears in the case of the linear arrangement of the Memnon columns, and, inasmuch as they are only valid in such equable order and size, they wholly digress from the aim of sculpture and are subject to the art of building. Hirt[46] refers the colossal melodious statue, which Pausanias states the Egyptians regarded as the image of Phamenoph, not so much to deity as to a king, who possessed in it his monument, as Osymandyas and others in a similar way. It is, however, quite possible that these imposing images supplied a more definite or indefinite conception of something universal. Both Egyptians and Aethiopians worshipped Memnon, the son of the Dawn, and sacrificed to him on the first appearance of[Pg 42] the solar rays by means of which the image greeted with its vocal sound the worshippers. Producing as it did vocal sound it is not merely in virtue of its form of importance and interest, but by reason of its nature as a living, significant and revealing thing, albeit the mode of revelation is purely one of symbolic suggestion.

This relation we have pointed out in the case of these statues of Memnon is equally true in that of the Sphinxes, which we have already discussed in our reference to their symbolic significance. We find these Sphinxes in Egypt not merely in extraordinary numbers but also of stupendous size. One of the most famous of them is the one which is situated in close proximity to the Cairo group of pyramids. Its length is 148 metres, its height from the claws to the head is 65 metres; the feet that repose in front, measured from the breast to the points of the claws, are 57 metres, and the height of the claws 8 metres. This enormous mass of rock, however, has not in the first instance been excavated and then carried to the place now occupied by it. On the contrary, the excavations which have been made to its foundations prove that the foundation consists of limestone, and in a manner which showed that the entire huge work was hewn from one rock of which it only forms a portion. This enormous image more nearly approaches, it is true, genuine sculpture in its colossal proportions; it is, however, equally true that the Sphinxes were also set side by side linearly in passages, in which position they, too, receive a wholly architectonic character.

(c) Such independent figures are, as a rule, not only to be found in isolation, but are supplemented by the construction of large buildings resembling the temple type, labyrinths, subterranean excavations of every kind, or amongst other things are utilized in masses and surrounded by walls.

The first thing we may remark with regard to the temple enclosures of Egypt is this that the fundamental character of this huge type of architecture, detailed information as to which we have latterly received in the main from French writers, consists in this that they are constructions open to the day, without roofing, doors, passages between partitions[47],[Pg 43] and above all, between columned halls, entire forests of columns. They are works, in short, of the greatest range and variety of interior construction which, without serving as the habitation of a god, or a communion of worshippers, independently by this self-consistent operation appeal to the wonder of our imaginations quite as much in the colossal size of their proportions and masses, as through the fact that their isolated forms and images make an independent and exclusive claim to our interest. Such forms and images are in truth placed there as symbols for significances which are strictly universal in their import, or in the position they occupy as representing literature, in so far, that is, as they declare such significances not through the manner of their form, but by means of writings, works of imaginative form which are engraved on their surfaces. We may in part describe these gigantic buildings as a collection of sculptured images; for the most part, however, these appear in such a number and with such repetition of one and the same form, that the arrangement becomes one of a series, and it is only in this kind of line and order that they receive what is precisely their architectonic definition, which becomes, however, once more an object in itself, and does not merely mean beams and roofing and nothing beyond them.

The larger constructions of this type start with a paved passage, one hundred feet broad, according to Strabo's statement, and three or four times as long. On either side of this approach (δρόμος) stand Sphinxes, in rows of fifty to a hundred, in height from twenty to thirty feet. After this comes an imposing and splendid portal (πρόπυλον), narrower at the top than at the base, with piers and columns of enormous bulk, ten or twenty times higher than the height of a man; partially isolate and independent, and in part fixed in walls and gorgeously decorated structures[48], which also stand up perpendicularly in independence to the height of from fifty to sixty feet, broader at the bottom than at the top, without being connected with transverse walls, or carrying entablatures[49], and so constituting a dwelling. On the[Pg 44] contrary, what we find is that, in contrast to vertical walls, which rather suggest they are built to support a weight, they belong to the independent mode of architecture. Here and there Memnon images lean against these walls, which also constitute passages, and are entirely covered with hieroglyphics and enormous pictures on stone, so that they appeared to the Frenchmen who recently saw them like printed calico. We may regard them as so many leaves of books, which by means of their spatial and limited superficies arouse unlimited astonishment, feeling, and reflection in the human soul. Doors follow at frequent intervals, and alternate with each series of Sphinxes; or we find an open spot engirt throughout by a wall with columned passages to these walls. After that we get a covered place, which does not serve as a dwelling, but is a forest of pillars, the columns of which have no roofing but carry slabs of stone. After these Sphinx passages, series of columns, and structural walls over-flowered with hieroglyphics, after them a frontage building with wings, before which obelisks are erected and lions couched; or also, after forecourts, or a cincture of yet more narrow approaches, we reach the culmination of the entire construction, the real temple, the sanctuary (σηκὸς), according to Strabo of moderate proportions, which either contained no image of the god, or merely an animal image. This dwelling of godhead was now and again a monolith, as Herodotus, for example, narrates[50] in respect of the temple of Buto. This temple was worked out of one piece of stone to a length and breadth, which in each of its walls of equal size measured forty cubits, and as final roof to the same was placed a single stone with a cornice of four cubits' breadth. In general, however, these sanctuaries are so small, that no communion of worshippers could find room inside. Such a communion, however, is an essential concomitant of a temple; otherwise the same is merely a box, a treasury, a place where sacred images are conserved.

To such an extent buildings of this type run on for miles with their rows of animal figures, their Memnons, their immense doors, their walls and colonnades of the most stupendous dimensions, some of greater breadth, some of less, their isolated obelisks and much else, that while we wander[Pg 45] within works so huge and so calculated to excite our surprise, which in part possess merely a more restricted purpose in the diverse activities of the system of culture to which they belong the question is irresistible, what these masses of stone have to tell us of the Divine they secrete. For on closer inspection symbolical meanings are everywhere in-woven in these constructions in that the number of Sphinxes and Memnons, the position of columns and passages have relation to the days of the year, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the seven planets, the great periods of the lunar cycle and other phenomena. To some extent we find here that sculpture has not yet freed itself from architecture; and in some degree again the really architectonic aspect of measure, interval, number of columns, walls, steps, and so forth is so treated, that the real object of these relations is not to be found in their own intrinsic character, that is, in their symmetry, harmony, and beauty, but is referable to their symbolical definition. And in this way all this work of construction asserts itself independently as an object in itself, as itself a cultus, in which both nation and king are united. Many works, such as canals, the lake Maeotis, and generally waterworks have a particular relation to agriculture and the floods of the Nile. An example of this we have in the statement of Herodotus[51] to the effect that Sesostris had the entire country, which up to this time had been ridden and driven over, cut up into canals to provide drinking-water, and in this way made horses and wagons useless. The main constructions, however, remained those buildings with a religious purpose, which the Egyptians instinctively piled up much as the bees do their cells. Their property was regulated[52], their other social conditions equally so, the soil of the country was extraordinarily fruitful, and required no laborious cultivation, so that we may almost say their agriculture merely consisted in sowing and harvest. We hear little of other interests and exploits, such as are common to nations, and, with the exception of the tales of the priesthood with reference to the maritime undertakings of Sesostris, we have no account of sea voyages. Speaking generally, the Egyptians restricted their efforts to this work[Pg 46] of construction within their own country. It is, however, what we have called self-substantive and symbolical architecture which forms the fundamental type of their imposing works and for this reason that the human ideal, the spiritual in its aims and external forms, has not as yet come to self-knowledge, or constituted itself the object and product of its free activity. Self-consciousness has not as yet ripened in the fruit, is not yet independently secured, but is restless, seeking, surmising, ever for producing without absolute satisfaction, and consequently without repose. It is only in the form that is commensurate with Spirit that mind essentially at home with itself finds satisfaction and finds its true definition in what it produces. The symbolical work of art on the contrary remains more or less indefinite. Among such creations of the Egyptian art of building we may include the so-called labyrinths, courts with columned approaches, circumambient paths between partitions, which entwine about in a mysterious fashion, but whose confusing intricacy is not constructed with the puerile object to make the means of exit a problem, but to create for the senses an intricate mode of motion that is dominated by mysteries of symbolical import. For these paths, as we have already indicated, imitate in their course that of the heavenly bodies and embody the same for imagination. They are in part constructed above the ground and in part underneath it, and in addition to their passages are furnished with chambers and halls of enormous size, whose walls are covered with hieroglyphics. The largest labyrinth which Herodotus himself saw was not far from the lake Maeris. He affirms[53] that its size exceeded his powers of description, and it surpassed the pyramids themselves. The building he ascribes to the twelve kings, and he describes it in the following terms. The entire building surrounded by one and the same wall consisted of two stories, the one above and the other beneath the level of the ground. Taken together they enclosed three thousand chambers, each story containing fifteen hundred. The upper story which alone Herodotus was able to see was divided into twelve adjacent courts[54], with doors[Pg 47] placed opposite to each other, six facing the North and six the South, and every court was engirt with a colonnade, constructed of white and carefully worked stone. From these courts, Herodotus continues, you have ingress to the chambers, and from these into the halls, and from the halls into other chambers, and from these chambers into the courts. According to Hirt[55] Herodotus only so far defines this latter relation to the extent that he places in the first instance the chambers in juxtaposition to the courts. With regard to the labyrinthine passages, Herodotus states that the numerous passages through the roofed-in chambers and the multitudinous incurvations between the courts had filled him with infinite astonishment. Pliny[56] describes them as obscure and tedious for a stranger on account of their windings, and when their doors were opened there was a noise in them like thunder; we also learn from Strabo, an evidence of importance, for he was an eye-witness no less than Herodotus, that the labyrinthine passages encircled the court spaces. It was the Egyptians who mainly built such labyrinths: but we find in imitation of Egypt a similar one in Crete, though of smaller extent, and also, too, in the Morea and Malta. Taking into consideration the fact, however, that, on the one hand, an art of building of this kind in its chambers and halls already approximated to the dwelling type, while, on the other, according to the delineation of Herodotus, the subterranean portion of the labyrinth, an entrance into which was forbidden him, had for its definite object the sepulchre of the founders of the building and sacred crocodiles—so that here the essential characteristic of the labyrinth was entirely the symbolic import in an independent sense—we may find in such works a point of transition to the form of symbolical architecture, which in its own constituent parts begins already to approach the classic type of building.

[Pg 48]


However stupendous in size the construction we have just considered are the subterranean architecture of Oriental peoples such as the Hindoos and Egyptians, which offer many features of resemblance, are still more imposing and calculated to excite our wonder. Whatever aspect of grandeur and nobility is in this respect discoverable above ground presents no parallel to that which among the Hindoos is presented us beneath the earth in Salsette, which faces Bombay, and in Ellora, that is, in Upper Egypt and Nubia. In these extraordinary excavations what we have in the earliest examples exposed is the immediate necessity of an enclosure. The fact that mankind have sought protection in caves, and made their dwelling there and that entire peoples have possessed no other mode of dwelling is due to the compelling force of their needs. Caves of this kind existed in the land of Judaea, where in works of many stories there was room for thousands. There were also in the Harz mountains in the Rammelsberg near Goslar chambers, into which men crept for cover, and used to bring their provisions for safety.

(a) Of an entirely different type, however, are the Hindoo and Egyptian subterranean constructions to which we have alluded. In some degree they served as places of assemblage, subterranean cathedrals, and are constructions whose object was to excite religious wonder and concentrate the communion of spiritual life; they are united to designs and suggestions of a symbolical character, colonnades, sphinxes, Memnons, elephants, colossal images of idols, which, hewn from the bare rock, were as fully left a component growth of the formless stone as the columns in such excavations were made to stand out in isolation from it. In front of the walls of rock these buildings were here and there wholly exposed to the light, in other parts they were entirely devoid of it, and illuminated merely with torches, while in other portions light was introduced from above.

Relatively to the super-terranean constructions these excavations appear as prior in time, so that we may regard[Pg 49] the enormous spaces laid out above the soil as an imitation and efflorescence of similar tracts of land beneath it. In excavations there is no positive building, but we have rather a given material taken away. And to nest thus in the ground, to excavate is more natural to man than to seek for a material, and with it to construct and inform a mass of buildings. In this respect we may assume the cave to be utilized prior to the hut or dwelling. Caves are the extension of spatial covering instead of a limitation of such, or an extension which grows up as a limit and enclosure, in which the enclosure is already present. The subterranean construction consequently inclines to start with what is already present, and, in so far as it leaves the fundamental material as it finds it, is not erected with the freedom applicable to a configuration raised above the surface of the soil. In our view, however, these constructions already belong to a further stage of the art of building, however much they may also have features of a symbolical type, because they no longer are placed there as independently symbolical, but already possess the aim or purpose of an enclosure, a partition, a roof, within which more symbolical figures as such are set up. That which is connoted under the conception of temple and dwelling, both in the Greek and more modern use of the terms, we have here in their most natural form.

We may include in the above class the caves of Mithras, although we find them in a very different locality. The worship and ritual of Mithras originates in Persia. A cultus, however, of a similar kind was also promulgated in the Roman Empire. In the Paris Museum we find a very famous bas-relief, which represents a youth in the act of striking an ox with a steel weapon. It was discovered in the Roman Capitol in a deep grotto beneath the temple of Jupiter. In these Mithras caves vaults are also met with, and passages which on the one hand appear definitely to symbolize by suggestion the course of the stars, and from another point of view also (precisely as still in our own time takes place in our free-mason lodges, where people are conducted through many passages and have to see dramatic scenes and much else) the ways, which the soul must pass through in its purification, albeit it may be true enough[Pg 50] that this fundamental meaning is more fully and directly expressed in sculpture and other work than in architecture simply. In a connection somewhat similar we may also mention the Roman catacombs, the fundamental idea of whose construction was certainly something quite other than that of being subservient to aqueducts, sepulchres or any system of drainage.

(b) In the second place we may seek for our present use a more definite point of transition from the architecture of independent type in those constructions which have been raised as housings of the dead, partly in the form of excavations beneath the ground, and partly as buildings above it. More particularly among the Egyptians this kind of construction, whether subterranean or super-terranean, was associated with a realm of the dead, just as in general among the Egyptians it is a realm of the invisible which in the first instance receives a habitation and is placed before us. The Hindoo burns his dead, or suffers their bones to lie and moulder on the earth. According to the Hindoo's point of view mankind are, or become, god or gods, whichever way one cares to put it, and we are unable to find in their case this assured distinction between the living and the dead regarded as dead. Hindoo constructions, consequently, so far as they do not originate in Mohammedanism, are not dwellings for the dead, and appear generally to belong to an earlier period as we assumed was true of the astonishing excavations described. In the case of the Egyptians, however, the contrast between living and dead asserts itself predominantly. That which is spiritual begins to separate itself essentially from what is material. We have here the resurrection of spirit in concrete individuality, the movement of that process. The dead are therefore retained fast as personality[57], and are secured and preserved securely above the conception of dissolution into Nature, that is into universal evanescence, flood and extinction. Singularity is the principle of the spiritual in its notion of independence, because spirit is only able to exist as individuality, that is personality. Consequently this honour paid to and preservation of the dead can only appear to ourselves as a first and important element in the definition of the existence of[Pg 51] spiritual individuality, since it is here that singularity is asserted as maintained rather than abandoned, inasmuch as the body at any rate is treasured and respected as this Nature's own mode of individuality. Herodotus assures us, a fact we have already noticed, that the Egyptians were the first to declare that the souls of men were immortal, and despite the fact that the grasp on spiritual individuality is in their case very incomplete, in so far as in their view the deceased must for three thousand years pass through a whole series of animals belonging to land, water, and air, yet for all that in this conception, and in the embalming of the body, we find fixedly the notion of bodily individuality, and of the independent self-existence as separate from that body.

It is therefore also of importance in the arts of building that in these the separation of the spiritual, no less than the ideal significance, which[58] is independently represented, be carried into effect while the corporeal shell is set round it as a purely architectonic environment. The dwellings of the dead of the Egyptians constitute for this reason the earliest examples of the temple type. The essential feature, the central core of worship is a subject, an individual object which appears of significance by itself, and expresses itself as distinct from its dwelling, which is thereby interpreted as purely a subservient covering. And no doubt it is not an actual man, for whose requirements a house or palace had to be built, but deceased objects that are without such needs, kings, sacred animals, around whom immeasurable constructions are enclosed.

Just as agriculture fixes the wandering of nomads in the stable possession of a definite locality, we may say that generally sepulchres, monuments, and the service of the dead unite mankind, and even offer to those who possess no States, no limitations of property, a place of rendez-vous, sacred places which they defend and refuse to have taken away from them. As an illustration we may cite the case of the Scythians, a nomad people, who retired everywhere, according to the narration of Herodotus[59], before Darius. And when Darius sent an embassage to them with the[Pg 52] message that if their king deemed himself strong enough to offer resistance he should come forth to battle, but if he did not he ought to recognize Darius as his lord, Idanthyrsus met the same with the reply that they possessed neither cities nor tilled land, and had nothing to defend for the reason that Darius had nothing to ravage; if, however, Darius made a point of having a fight they possessed the sepulchres of their fathers, let him therefore dare to advance against these, he will then discover whether they will fight for their sepulchres or not.

The most ancient and imposing monuments erected to the dead we find in Egypt. They are the Pyramids. What most excites our wonder at first sight of these astonishing constructions is their extraordinary magnitude, which at once makes us reflect upon the duration of time, the variety, superabundance and persistence of human energies which is inseparable from the completion of such colossal buildings. From the point of view of form there is nothing in them to protract attention: in a few minutes we have surveyed and taken in the entire effect. With this simplicity and uniformity of their form in view their object has ever been a subject of controversy. It is true that even the ancients, as for example Herodotus and Strabo, adduced the aim, which they subserved; but for all that both in former and more recent times, travellers and writers have contributed much that is fabulous and unwarranted in their reflections. The Arabs endeavoured to effect entrance by force, hoping to discover treasure in the interior of the Pyramids; such assaults, however, beyond disturbing much, have failed in their object to reach the actual passages and chambers. Europeans of a later date, among whom we may mention in particular for distinction, Belzoni, a native of Rome, and Caviglia of Genoa, have at last succeeded in ascertaining more accurate information with respect to the interior of these fabrics. Belzoni discovered the royal sepulchre in the Pyramid of Chephren. The entrances to the Pyramids were closed in the securest way by square blocks of stone, and it appears that Egyptians endeavoured in their construction so to effect matters that the entrance, even when discovered, could only be followed up and opened with the greatest difficulty. This proves to us that[Pg 53] the Pyramids remained closed and could not be again used. Within their interior explorers have found chambers, passages, which point by suggestion to the ways, which the soul undertakes after death in its course and transmigration, great halls, channels beneath the earth at one time descending, at another mounting up. The royal sepulchre of Belzoni runs on in this way hewn out of the rock for a mile. In the principal hall stood a sarcophagus of granite, sunk in the ground; but all that was discovered in it was the remains of animal bones of a mummy, probably that of an Apis. The whole, however, proved beyond a doubt that the object in view was that of being a dwelling for the dead. The Pyramids differ in age, form, and size. The most ancient appear to be stones piled on one another in a more or less pyramidal shape. The more recent ones are constructed with uniformity; some are somewhat flattened out at the summit, others run up entirely to a point. On others have been found deposits, an explanation of which may be gathered from the description Herodotus[60] gives us when referring to the Pyramid of Cheops of the manner in which the Egyptians carried out such works, so that Hirt includes such among the Pyramids which remained unfinished[61]. In the older Pyramids according to the latest evidence of Frenchmen the chambers and passages are more winding; in the more recent ones they are simpler, but entirely covered with hieroglyphics, to interpret which throughout will take several years.

In this way the Pyramids, despite all the wonder they arouse of their own accord, are really nothing but crystals, mere shells, which enclose a kernel, that is a departed spirit, and serve as custodians of his still consistent bodily presence and form. In this departed and deceased person, who secures an independent reproduction, we fail to find consequently any significance[62]; the architecture, however, which up to this point independently possessed its significance in itself as architecture, is now divided in its aim, and in this division is subservient to something else, whereas sculpture receives the function to give body to the genuine[Pg 54] ideal aspect, although in the first instance the individual figure in its unique and immediate natural shape is retained. We find consequently, on a general survey of the Egyptian art of building, on the one hand, the self-subsistent symbolical buildings; on the other, however, and more particularly in everything which is attached to the monuments of the dead, the specific determination of architecture to be an enclosure and nothing more, already clearly asserts itself. It is an essential concomitant of this, that architecture not only be limited to the construction of excavations and caves, but attest itself as an inorganic Nature built by human hands on the spot where men have actual need of it, and for a definite purpose will it to be.

Other nations have raised monuments of the same kind, sacred buildings as dwellings of the dead bodies, over whom they happen to be erected. As examples we may instance the mausoleum in Curia, and of more recent date that of Hadrian, the still existing Englesburg in Rome, a palace of careful construction raised in honour of a dead person, all of which were even in antiquity famous works. According to the description of Uhden[63] we may also mention in this connection a type of mortuary, which in its arrangement and environment imitated in its smaller aspects temples dedicate to gods. A temple of this kind possessed a garden, arbours, a spring, a vineyard, and moreover chapels, in which portrait statues of gods were placed. More particularly in the time of the Roman Empire were such monuments to the dead built with statues of the deceased under the image of gods such as Apollo, Venus, and Minerva. Figures like the above, no less than the entire construction, consequently received during that age the significance of an apotheosis and a temple in honour of the dead man, just as also among the Egyptians the process of embalming, the emblems placed thereby, and the sarcophagus attest that the deceased was treated as a god-like Osiris[64].

The most imposing and least complex constructions of this kind, however, are the Egyptian Pyramids. In this type we have the peculiar and essential line of the art of building, that is the straight one, and in general terms the uniformity[Pg 55] and abstract simplicity[65] of forms. For architecture, as merely enclosure and inorganic Nature, or Nature that is not itself vitally and essentially suffused by the indwelling spirit in an independent mode, is unable to possess form except as one which is external to itself; external form, however, is not organic, but abstract and purely referable to the organs of sense[66]. However much the Pyramid already begins to receive the determining characteristics of the dwellings, yet the rectangular principle is still not throughout predominant, as it is in a real dwelling-house; it has still an independent determinacy, which is not merely of service to the purpose for which it is erected, and consequently closes up of itself by a process of gradation directly from the foundation to the apex.

(c) It is from this point that we may make the transition from the independent type of building to that of an art of construction, which is serviceable of a purpose.

There are two points of departure to this later type. There is on the one hand symbolic architecture, and on the other practical necessity and the impulse of purpose to subserve that necessity. In the case of symbolical forms, as we have already had occasion to observe, architectonic purpose is merely an incidental feature, merely an external mode of co-ordination. The dwelling-house, on the contrary, erected as necessity itself, requires posts of wood, or just walls standing up straight with beams, which are laid across them at right angles, and a roofing, and constitutes, the other extreme. There can be no question that the necessity of this real and effective expediency makes its appearance as the result of its own demand. The distinction that may be raised, however, in answer to the question, whether genuine architecture—as we shall shortly have to consider it as the classic art of building—takes its rise solely in this necessity, or is to be deduced from independent and symbolical works, which conducted us of their own accord to buildings devoted to service, is the point in essential dispute.

(α) It is the force of circumstances which brings to the fore[Pg 56] forms in architecture which are wholly stamped with a useful purpose, and the abstract deductions of science, such as the rectilinear line, the right angle, and the smooth surface. For in serviceable architecture that which constitutes the real object, is, in its independence, as a statue, or more closely as human individuals, that is community, a people, brought together for objects of general significance, which no longer have as their aim the satisfaction of physical wants, but are such in a religious and political sense. In a special degree the need asserts itself to shape an enclosure for the image, the statue of the gods, or generally for that which is independently placed before us and actually present as sacred. Memnons, Sphinxes, and the like stand up in the open, or in a grove, that is in the external environment of nature. Images of this kind, however, and still more human images of gods, are borrowed from another realm than that of immediate Nature. They belong to the world of imagination, and come into existence through the artistic powers of mankind. The purely natural environment is therefore not sufficient; they require for their external frame a ground and an enclosure, which shall be derived from the same source as their own, in other words, such as are the product of the imagination, and have received their form by means of artistic effort. It is only in an environment created by art that the gods find themselves at home[67]. In such a case, however, this external frame does not possess its object in itself, but it subserves something other than itself, and is subject to the principle of purpose or expediency.

If, however, these, in the first instance, purely serviceable forms are exalted to an expression of beauty they are unable to persist in their original abstract mode, and are forced to accept, in addition to what is merely symmetrical and harmonious, that which is organic, concrete, essentially itself conclusive and varied. And because this is so men are forced to reflect over distinctions of determinating form, no less than the express emphasis to be made on certain aspects of form, which is wholly superfluous where the question is only one of a definite purpose to be attained. A beam, for example, is from one point of view that which is[Pg 57] carried forward in a straight line; at the same time, however, it terminates at both extremes. In the same way a post which has to support either rafter or roof stands on the ground and reaches its terminating point where the rafter rests upon it. The architecture of service asserts distinctions of this kind and gives form to them by means of art; an organic design, on the contrary, such as a plant, or a human being, ay, whether we look at such above or below, but in any case throughout, has to be organically embodied, to be differentiated in the latter case consequently by feet and head, or in the former by roots and corona.

(β) Conversely symbolic architecture takes its point of departure more or less from organic forms of this kind, as we see is the case with sphinxes, memnons, and so forth; yet it is also unable wholly to exclude in its walls, doors, beams, obelisks, and the rest, the principle of the straight line and uniformity, and is generally obliged to accept the assistance of such principles appertinent to the genuine art of building as equality of size, interval of relative position, rectilinear progression of rows, in short, order and regularity when it proposes to place in a series and to set up in accordance with architectural design the colossal sculptured figures to which we have referred. By doing so it unites in itself both principles[68], whose union brings for result an architecture, the beauty of which is promoted along with the object to which it is subservient, albeit in the symbolic type these two aspects[69] still lie in separation side by side instead of being fused in unity.

(γ) We may therefore so conceive the transition that on the one side the art of building, hitherto self-subsistent in type, is forced to modify under scientific principles[70] the forms of organisms in the direction of regularity, and to pass into the province of proposed expediency; while conversely what is entirely such intended purpose in the form moves in opposition to the principle of the organic world. Where these two extremes come together, and mutually pass into one another, we get what is really beautiful classic architecture.

[Pg 58]

We may recognize this union, as it actually arises, clearly in the transformation now introduced of that which we already have met with in the architecture which was anterior under the form of columns. In other words, it is true that from one point of view walls are necessary to make an enclosure; but walls, too, can stand up independent, as we have already proved with examples, without making the enclosure complete, to which a roofing, no less than an enclosure of the sides, essentially contributes. But a roofing of this kind has to be supported. The simplest way of doing this is by columns, whose essential and, at the same time exclusive, rationale consists here in being simply supports. For this reason walls are really a superfluity is so far as it is only a question of support. For supporting is a mechanical relation, and belongs to a province of gravity and its laws. And in this[71] gravity the weight of a particular body is concentrated in its point of gravity, and must be assisted at this centre in remaining horizontal without a fall. This is precisely what the column does, so that with it the power of support appears to be reduced to the minimum limit of exterior means to effect this. What a wall at great cost[72] effects, is equally effected by a few columns. It is a very beautiful characteristic of classic architecture not to set up more columns than are actually necessary to carry the weight of the rafter and that which reposes thereon. In genuine architecture columns, for purposes of mere decoration, are not truly beautiful. For the same reason also columns which stand up entirely alone do not perform their true function. No doubt triumphal columns have been erected, such as the famous ones in honour of Trajan and Napoleon: but these, too, are really but a pedestal for statues, and moreover covered with sculptured reliefs to commemorate and glorify the hero, whose image they carry. In the case of the column, then, it is of exceptional importance to see how in the course of architectural development it is compelled to divest itself of the concrete form of Nature before it can secure its more abstract form,[Pg 59] the form, that is, which is as compatible with a definite object as it is with beauty.

(αα) Independent architecture, on account of the fact that it starts with organic images, makes use of human shapes, as, for example, we find in Egypt figures in some measure at least human, such as Memnons and the like, are utilized. This is, however, a mere superfluity, in so far, that is, as a definition of this character is not the true medium of support. We find among the Greeks that Caryatides are used in another mode and under a more severe obedience to rule to support superimposed weight, but such cannot be extensively employed. Moreover, we can only regard it as a misuse of the human form to crush it together under such burdens, and it is for this reason that Caryatides receive the character of the oppressed; their drapery suggests a state of slavery under which it is a degradation to carry such burdens.

(ββ) The more natural organic form for pillars and supports which have to bear a weight is consequently the tree, plant-life generally, a stem, a thin stalk which strives upwards in a vertical direction. The hole of a tree already carries of its own nature its crown of branches, the blade of corn the ear, the stem the flower. These forms, too, the Egyptian art of building, which has not as yet attained the liberty of viewing them in their abstract intension, borrows directly from Nature. In this respect the grandiose quality which we discover in the style of Egyptian palaces or temples—the colossal proportions of its rows of columns, the huge number of them, and withal the imposing mutual relations of the entire structure, has ever filled the spectator with wonder and astonishment. In these colonnades we do not find that all columns have the same form; they alternate between one, two, or three types. Denon, in his work on the Egyptian expedition, has collected a great number of such types. The combined effect is not as yet any uniform shape based on abstract principles of selection; rather the foundation is the shape of an onion, a reed-like efflorescence of leaf from the bulb, or, in other examples, a compression together of the root-leaves according to the manner of several kinds of plant. From this base, then, the thin stem breaks upwards straight, or mounts as column with[Pg 60] twisted coils, and the capital is also a separation of leaves from branches which suggests the process of a flower. The imitation, however, is not true to Nature, but the plant-like forms are drained off under the architectural impulse, and made to approximate to circular, geometrical, and regular forms, or straight lines, so that such columns, in their entirety, resemble what are usually described as arabesques.

(γγ) This is not the place to enter into a general discussion of the arabesque for the reason that notionally it marks precisely the transition from the architecture which adopts as its basic form the natural organism to that which by its adoption of a more severe regularity is more strictly architectonic. When, however, the art of building has become free in its definitive character it relegates arabesques to the function of decoration and ornament. They are then pre-eminently forms of plants strained off, so to speak, or forms which originate from plants together with entwined forms of animals and human beings, or forms of animals in their passage over to plant-life. In so far as they purport to authenticate a symbolical significance the transitional passage between the different spheres of the animal kingdom hold good for it. Apart from such an interpretation they are simply the play of the imagination in the selection, combination and articulation of the most diverse forms of Nature. For architectural ornamentation of this kind, in the invention of which the imagination finds scope for its activity in the most varied creations of every kind, not even excluding utensils and drapery, the fundamental determinant and type is this, that whether it be plants, leaves, flowers, or animals, all are made to approximate to the abstract figures of science, in other words the inorganic. For this reason we frequently find arabesques to be stiff, untrue to organic life; and it is on this account that they are not unfrequently condemned and art is blamed for the use of them. This is exceptionally true of painting, though Raphael himself did not scruple to paint arabesques in great profusion, characterized with the highest charm, nobility of feeling, variety, and grace. No doubt arabesques are an antithesis to nature, whether we compare them with organic forms or the rigid laws of mechanics; but an opposition of this kind is not merely a right of art generally, but even an obligation under which[Pg 61] architecture is bound. It is only by this means that living forms in other respects unfitted for the art of building are made adaptable to the truly architectural style and brought into harmony with it. Such an adaptability is offered in an exceptionally close degree by vegetable Nature, which is also in the East utilized to an extravagant extent in arabesques; in other words plants are not as yet individual objects which possess feeling, but naturally present themselves as adapted to architectural design, by virtue of the fact that they form coverings and protection against rain, sunlight, and wind, and, generally speaking, do not possess the free oscillation[73] of lines which breaks forth from the regularity of scientific conceptions[74]. Architecturally used the regularity of leaves already present is yet further subjected to rule in the definition of rondure and straight line, so that by this means everything which it is possible to regard as distortion, unnaturalness, or stiffness in the plant-forms is fundamentally to be considered as a transformation adapted to the requirements of what is genuinely architectural.

In some such way in the column the real art of building passes from that which is purely organic imitation to the definite purpose of scientific rule, and from this to a position which again approximates to the organic result. We find it necessary to draw attention to this twofold point of departure from the actual necessities and the purposeless self-subsistency of architecture, because the true type unites both principles. The beautiful column originates in the natural form, which is then transformed into the post, that is, it submits to the uniformity and scientific precision of form.

[Pg 62]



The art of building, when it has attained the position peculiarly its own and adequate to its notional content is subservient in its products to an end, and a significance which it does not itself essentially possess. It becomes an inorganic environment, a whole that is co-ordinated and built conformably to the laws of gravity, whose configurations are subject to that which is severely regular, straight, rectangular, circular, the relations of definite number and quantity, that which is essentially limited measure and strict conformity to rule. Its beauty consists in this very relation to purpose, which, in its freedom from direct[75] admixture with what is organic, spiritual, and symbolical, and despite the fact that it subserves an end, nevertheless combines in an essentially exclusive totality, which suffers its own aim to appear through all its modifications, and in the harmonious co-ordination of its relations clothes that which is purely adapted to purpose in the forms of beauty. Architecture, however, at this stage[76] corresponds to its real notion, for the reason that it is not in a position to endow that which is in the most explicit sense spiritual with a fully adequate existence, and is consequently only able to inform what is external and devoid of spirit in its contrasted appearance with that which is spiritual.

We propose, in our consideration of this art of building, in which the relation of service is as truly a characteristic as that of beauty, to adopt the following course of argument.

In the first instance we have to establish the general notion and character of the same.

[Pg 63]

Secondly, we shall have to adduce the particular fundamental determinants of the architectonic types which are deducible from the ulterior purpose which the classical work of art is erected to subserve.

Thirdly, we propose to survey the concrete reality which results from the development of classical architecture.

I do not, however, propose in discussing any of the above relations to enter into detail, but will limit myself to points of most general significance, a restriction more easy to observe in the present case than it was in that of the symbolical type of building.


(a) In conformity with the principle I have already more than once adverted to the fundamental idea of the genuine art of building consists in this, that the spiritual import is not exclusively reposed in the work of construction itself, which by this means becomes an independent symbol of ideal signification[77], but, with the converse result, that this significance secures its free existence outside the limits of architecture. This existence may be of a twofold character, to the extent in other words that another art of extensive range—I refer, above all, to the art of sculpture of the true classical type—sets before us and gives independent form to the significance, or the individual man in himself receives and gives effect to the same in the active verity of his life. Apart from this[78], these two aspects may still appear together. When, therefore, the Oriental architecture of the Babylonians, Hindoos, and Egyptians, on the one hand, gave symbolical form, in images of independent consistency, to that which was reckoned among these people as the absolute and true, or, from another aspect, enclosed, despite its external natural form, that which was conserved after death—in contrast to this what we find now is—whether we regard it relatively to art's activity, or to the life of actual existence—that the spiritual is separated from the work of construction[Pg 64] in independent guise for itself, and architecture becomes the vassal of what is spiritual, which constitutes the real significance and the determinating end. This end is consequently predominant. It controls the entire work; it determines the fundamental form of the same no less than its external skeleton, and neither suffers the material nor the individual's imagination and caprice to assert their independence in a self-substantive way, as was the case in symbolical architecture, or to develop, over and beyond the true purpose of the work, a superfluity of manifold parts and configurations, as is the case in the romantic type.

(b) In considering a construction of this character we have, then, first to ask ourselves not merely what are the circumstances under which it was erected, but what is its aim and purpose. To make its construction compatible with such considerations, to have a due regard for climate, position, and the environing landscape, to create a whole, one in spontaneous co-ordination, by a regard for all these aspects as subservient to one purpose, this is the task stated broadly, in the entire fulfilment of which the instincts and genius of the artist will appear conspicuous. Among the Greeks we find that it is public buildings, temples, colonnades, and halls utilized for the ordinary rest and commerce of the day, approaches, such as the famous ascent of the Acropolis in Athens, which are pre-eminently the objects of the builder's art. Private residences, on the other hand, were of a very simple character. With the Romans, on the contrary, it is the luxurious character of private houses, especially villas, which becomes prominent; and we may say the same thing of imperial palaces, public baths, theatres, circuses, amphitheatres, aqueducts, and springs. Buildings of this type, however, the utility of which throughout remains the commanding and directing principle, are merely able to accept beauty in a more or less decorative sense. The object most compatible with freedom of treatment in this sphere is that of religion—the temple-house as the enclosure of an individual which itself is appropriated by fine art, and placed before us by sculpture as the statue of the god.

(c) In the pursuit of aims such as those above mentioned, then, genuine architecture appears to be more free than the[Pg 65] symbolic type of the previous stage, which seizes on the organic forms from Nature, nay, more free than sculpture, which is compelled to accept the human form it finds, and unites itself with them and their general relations as presented it. Classical architecture rather invents its forms and their configuration, so far as the content is concerned, from ends of spiritual import and in respect to form from human reason without any prototype. This greater freedom must, in a relative sense, be admitted; but the province in which it is exercised remains restricted, and the treatment which belongs to the classical art of building, on account of the rationality[79] of its forms is, taken as a whole, somewhat of an abstract and dry character.

Frederich von Schlegel has described architecture as a frozen music; and in truth both these arts repose on a harmony of relations, which admit of being referred to number, and are consequently readily grasped in their fundamental characteristics. In our own case the fundamental determinant for these essential traits and their simple, more serious and imposing, or more charming and elegant relations is supplied by the dwelling-house, that is, walls, columns, beams brought together in the wholly crystalline forms of scientific deduction. What the relations are we are not permitted to reduce to the bare determinants of number and measure. But an oblong, quadrilateral figure with right angles is more pleasing than a square, because in the case of the oblong we are more thus affected both by equality and inequality[80]. If the one dimension, namely breadth, is half as large as the other, we have a relation which pleases; with an oblong which is long and narrow the reverse is the case. Along with this the mechanical relations of support and being supported must likewise be maintained in their genuine measure and law; a heavy entablature, for instance, cannot rest on slender and delicate columns, or conversely great structures be prepared in order after all to lay on them something very light. In all these mutual relations, such as that of the breadth to the length and height of the[Pg 66] building, the height of the columns to their thickness, the intervals and number of the columns, the character and variety or simplicity of decorations, the size of many plinths, borders, and so forth, a secret principle of rhythm[81] prevails among the ancients, which the instinct of the Greeks before all others has discovered; from which he may no doubt now and again deviate in points of detail, but the fundamental relations of which he is in general bound to preserve in order that he may not fall away from beauty.


(a) We have already alluded to the old controversy whether the material of wood or stone is to be accepted as the point of departure in building, and whether also it is from this difference of material that the architectural types proceed. For the real art of building at least, in so far as it lays emphasis on the aspect of ultimate purpose and elaborates the fundamental type of the dwelling on the lines of beauty we may accept wood as the more original of the two.

This is the conclusion of Hirt, following in this respect Vitruvius, and his conclusion has been much disputed. I will in a few words offer my own view on the matter in dispute, In the ordinary course of such reflections we seek to discover the abstract and simple law for a concrete result assumed as already present. It is in this way that Hirt looks for the basic model of Greek buildings, in like manner the design[82], the anatomical framework, and finds it, so far as form and the material connected with it is concerned, in the dwelling and building of wood. No doubt a house as such is built mainly as a dwelling, a protection against storm, rain, weather, animals, and human beings, and requires an enclosure that is complete, in order that a family or a larger community of men may collect in independent seclusion and may look after their necessities and pursue their avocations[Pg 67] in such seclusion. The house is a structure throughout with a definite purpose, a creation of mankind for human objects. For this reason we find him occupied upon it in many ways and with many objects, and the structure is articulated in an aggregate pile of all kinds of mechanical ways of mutual interlacement and imposition[83] in order to hold in position and secure, according to the laws of gravity, what men are compelled to look after, that is, the making stable what is erected[84], the closing it in, the support of what is superimposed, and not merely in the way of support, but, where the structure rests horizontally, the preservation of it in such a position, and, further, the uniting of all that clashes together at nooks and corners and so on. Now it is quite true that the house makes it necessary that the enclosure should be complete; and for this walls are most serviceable and safest; and from this point of view the building of stone appears most to answer the purpose. We may, however, with equal ease construct our fence with posts standing in juxtaposition, upon which then beams will rest, which at the same time both bind together and secure the perpendicular posts. Finally we come to the cover of all and roofing. In the temple house, moreover, the fact of enclosure is not the main fact of importance, but the feature of support and being supported. For this mechanical result the wooden structure is obviously the nearest to hand and the most natural. For the post, as that which supports, which at the same time requires a means of conjunction, and suffers the same to weigh on it in the shape of the cross-beam, constitutes here all that goes to the root of the matter. This essential division of parts and connection as well as the association of these aspects for a definite purpose belongs to the very nature of a wooden structure, which has its necessary material directly supplied it by the tree. In the tree we find already, without working upon it to any considerable or laborious extent, both post and beam, in so far[Pg 68] as, that is, the wood already by itself possesses a definite form and consists of separate lengths, more or less in the straight line, lengths which can be brought together into rectangular corners no less than those which are acute or obtuse, and in this way provide corner pillars, supports, cross-beams and roof. Stone, on the contrary, never at any time possesses a form so definite. In contrast to the tree it is a formless mass, which first must be intentionally isolated and worked upon, in order that it may fit in juxtaposition to or superposition on other pieces and so once more be brought together with such. It requires, in short, several processes before it receives the form and serviceableness which wood already possesses independently. Moreover, stone material, when it is used in great masses, invites rather excavations and generally speaking, being ab initio relatively formless, is capable of every kind of form, for which reason it is rather the congenial material for the symbolical as also the romantic types of building, while wood, by reason of its natural form of straight stems, is demonstrably without mediation more serviceable to that more severe type of purpose and observance of rule, which is the fountain-head of classical architecture. In this respect the structure of stone is mainly predominant with the self-substantive type of building, although even among the Egyptians, in their colonnades bordered with plinths, other considerations supervene, which the structure of wood is able more readily and in the first instance to satisfy. Conversely we do not find that classical architecture restricts itself entirely to buildings of wood, but, on the contrary, where it is elaborated in conformity with beauty, executes its buildings in stone; but in such a way, however, that we are from a certain point of view still able to recognize in the architectural forms the original principle of the wood structure, if also from a further one definite relations attach which do not belong to that kind of building as such.

(b) The points of fundamental importance, which emphasize the dwelling-house as the basic type of the temple, may be in all essential particulars enumerated as follows. If we consider with closer attention the house in its mechanical relation to itself we shall find, in accordance with what we have already stated, on the one hand, masses of architectural[Pg 69] form which serve as support and, on the other, those that are supported both being united for stability and security. Thirdly, we have before us the definite aspect of enclosure and limitation according to the three dimensions of length, breadth, and height. A construction, moreover, which, by the fact of its being a mutual correlation of definite aspects distinct from each other, is a concrete whole, is bound to declare this unity in its constitution. So we find here that essential differences arise which perforce assert themselves no less in their division and specific elaboration than they do in their rational connexus.

(α) Of first importance in this respect to consider is the aspect of service in the way of support. When we speak of masses that support we commonly, under the influence of every-day needs, think of the wall as the most secure and reliable means of support. Support as such, however, as we have already seen, is not the exclusive principle of the wall; for the wall serves essentially as a means of enclosure and connection, and for this reason is a predominant feature in the romantic type of building. What is the peculiarity of Greek architecture is this, that it gives direct form to the principle of support by itself, and for this object employs columns as a fundamental contribution to the purpose and beauty of its architecture.

(αα) The aim of the column is to support and only this; and although a series of columns set up in a straight line make a boundary, such an enclosure falls short of a secure wall or partition, and is, in fact, expressly cancelled by the genuine partition and placed in a position of free independence. Owing to this exclusive object of support which pertains to the column, it is of first importance that it should display the aspect of such a purpose relatively to the weight which rests upon it. Consequently it should neither be too strong nor too slender, nor again too compressed, not mount upwards to such a height and with such ease as though the weight upon it was not treated seriously.

(ββ) And just as this column is thus differentiated from the enclosing wall, or fence, it is further from another point of view distinct from the mere post. In other words, the post is fixed directly in the ground and ceases with like directness at the precise point where a weight is reposed[Pg 70] upon it. For which reason its determinate length, its commencement and termination equally appear as a negative limitation by means of something else, as a determinacy which is the result of chance, which it does not possess in its own right. Commencement and termination, however, are defining characteristics, which are part of the very notion of the supporting column, and consequently must declare themselves in it as the conditions[85] of its own substance. This is the ground of the fact that architecture, in the elaboration of its beauty, assigns to the column a base and a capital. In the Tuscan order, no doubt, we find no base; the column springs immediately from the ground. This being so, however, the length appears to the vision as something accidental. We are ignorant whether the column has not been to some undefined extent driven into the soil by the superimposed weight. In order that its commencement must not expose this undefined and accidental appearance it must with intention have the foot assigned to it, on which it stands, and which expressly enables us to recognize the commencement as in reality such. Art will therefore affirm as part of its function that the column begins at a certain place and for the rest it will make the security, and stable subsistence obvious to the eyes, and set the vision at rest in this respect also. For similar reasons our column should terminate in a capital, which is quite as much evidence of the real function of being a support as it is an affirmation of the fact that the column terminates here. This conception of a commencement and conclusion which are both deliberate is what affords us, in fact, the profounder explanation of base and capital. An analogous case is that of a cadence in music, which requires a secure resolution, or that of a book which should terminate without a full stop, or should start off without a capital letter, in the making of which, however, especially in the Middle Ages, large illuminated letters have been employed, with similar decorations at the work's conclusion, in order to bring prominently before the mind the facts of commencement and termination. However much, therefore, both base and capital appear to exceed what is obviously required we must not[Pg 71] regard them as a decorative superfluity, or think of simply deducing them from the example of Egyptian columns, which still imitate the type of the vegetable kingdom. Figures of organic design, such as are represented by sculpture in animal and human form, begin and terminate in the free outlines they themselves present, for it is the rational organism itself, which gives outline to the form working thereon from its own intrinsic nature. Architecture, on the contrary, possesses for the column and its shapes nothing beyond the mechanical relation of support, and the spatial distance from the ground to the point where the weight that is supported terminates the column. Art, however, is bound to emphasize and disclose the particular aspects which lie together in this determinate relation for the reason that they are essential features of the column. Its precise length and its twofold boundary both above and below, that is, no less than its relation as support, must consequently not appear as coming to it incidentally and by virtue of something else, but must also be represented as immanent in its very being.

With respect to the form of column other than its base and capital, it is in the first place round, circular-shaped, for it has to stand up in free and independent self-seclusion. The most essentially simple, securely exclusive, rationally defined[86], and most regular line is in fact the circle. For this reason the column already proves from its shape that it is not adapted to form an even surface when placed in adjacent rows, as is the case with adjacent posts which are squared to the rectangular corner, and so present walls and partitions, but it has merely the object to offer a support under its own self-limitation. Moreover the columnar structure is ordinarily reduced in size gradually, as it ascends from one-third of its height, it becomes less in circumference and thickness, because the portions beneath have to carry that above, and it is felt necessary to emphasize and make obvious also this mechanical relation of the several parts of the column itself. Finally, we frequently find that columns are grooved; the[Pg 72] reason of this is twofold, first, essentially to diversify the simple form, and secondly to make the columns appear more thick by means of such a division where this is necessary.

(γγ) Although, then, the column is set up in independent isolation it has none the less to make it appear evident that it is not placed there for its own sake, but as subservient to the mass which it is erected to support. In so far as the house requires a boundary on every side the singular column is therefore not sufficient, but others have to be placed adjacent to it, in other words we come upon the definite conception of a diversity of columns placed in a series. And when several columns support the same weight this common service is at the same time that which determines the equal height which they all possess and which unites them together, in other words the beam. This marks the transition from the aspect of support to the opposed object supported.

(β) That which columns support is the entablature superimposed. The relation of most importance to be considered here is that of rectangularity. Not merely in its relation to the ground, but also in that to the entablature the supporting structure must be rectangular. For the horizontal position is by the laws of gravity that which is alone intrinsically the most stable and fitting, and the right angle the only definitely secure one. The acute and obtuse angles are, on the contrary, indefinite, and both vary in their degree and are subject to contingency.

We may differentiate between the component parts of the entablature as follows:

(αα) The architrave, that is, the main beam, rests immediately upon the columns which stand adjacent in a direct line of equal height; this unites the columns together and places on them a weight shared equally. As beam, and nothing more, it merely requires the form of four level surfaces mutually related as rectangular in all three dimensions and their abstract regularity. Owing to the fact, however, that the architrave as to one part of it is supported by the columns, and in another constitutes the stay of the rest of the entablature, and it is from this latter again that itself receives the necessary relation of being a support, progressive architecture also places in external relief this[Pg 73] twofold aspect of the main beam by emphasizing in the upper portions of the aspect of support by means of jutting plinths and so forth. In this respect therefore the main beam is not merely related to the columns which support it, but in like degree to other burdens which repose upon it.

(ββ) These in the first instance constitute the frieze. The border or frieze consists in one part of it of the tops of the joists[87], which rest on the entablature, in another part of the spaces between the same. For this reason the frieze contains more essential differences than those distinguishing the architrave, and is bound to emphasize them more sharply, especially in the case where architecture, although executed in stone materials, follows more stringently the fundamental type of the wood construction. This is supplied us by the distinction between triglyphs and metopes. In other words triglyphs are the tops of the beams which are divided into three spaces, the metopes are the rectangular spaces between the separate triglyphs. In former times they were in all probability left bare, in later, however, they are filled up[88], nay, even covered over and decorated with reliefs.

(γγ) The frieze, moreover, which rests on the entablature, carries the wreath or cornice. The function of this is to support the roof, which completes the whole upwards. Here we at once meet with questions of what form this final limitation is to be. For we may have in this respect two kinds of termination, either the horizontal and rectangular, or the one inclined to an acute or obtuse angle. If we look at the mere question of natural necessity we shall see that Southerners, who suffer little from rain and storm, merely require protection from sunlight; in their case a horizontal[Pg 74] and rectangular roofing of house is likely to suffice. Northerners, on the contrary, have to protect themselves against inevitable showers of rain, against contingency of snow, that the weight may not prove too great; they require inclining roofs. At the same time, in the case of a fine art of building, mere necessity is not only of account; as art it has also to satisfy the profounder requirements of what is pleasing and beautiful. What mounts upwards from the ground must be conceived with a base, a foot, on which it stands and which serves it for support; and in addition to this columns and the partitions of genuine architecture supply us visibly with the means of support. That which closes all above, the roofing, has no longer to support a weight, but merely to be supported, and is bound to declare in itself this definite aspect that it no longer supports anything. In other words, it must be so constructed that it is actually unable to support, and consequently fine down to an angle, whether it be acute or obtuse. Ancient temples have in consequence no horizontal roofing, but two roof surfaces which meet at obtuse angles, and it is out of consideration for beauty that the building is thus terminated. In short, roof surfaces that are horizontal do not give us the appearance of a building entirely complete; a horizontal flat may always add further weight to its height; this the line in which inclining roof surfaces terminate is no longer able to do. To take an analogous case in the art of painting, it is the pyramidal form in the grouping of figures which best satisfies artistic taste.

(γ) The final determining factor which we have to consider is that of the enclosing, the walls, and partitions. Columns no doubt support and form a boundary, but they do not enclose; they are, on the contrary, as such boundary, incompatible with the interior which is hemmed in by walls. If we require such an absolute enclosure we must have also thick and solid dividing walls erected. This is actually the case in temple construction.

(αα) We have nothing further to add with respect to walls except the fact that they must be built in a straight and even line and perpendicularly for the reason that walls that rise obliquely to acute and obtuse angles present the threatening aspect of collapse, and possess no direction[Pg 75] once and for all securely defined; it can merely appear as a matter of chance that they are reared in whatever more acute or obtuse angle it may happen to be. The demand of scientific rule and purpose alike is here also once more for the right angle.

(ββ) Owing to the fact that walls act as enclosures no less than as means of support, while we restricted the true function of the column to that of mere support, we approximate to the conception that where we have to satisfy these two distinct needs of support and enclosure columns may be set up and may be united to one another by means of thick walls in such partitions; it is thus that we get half columns. In this way, for example, Hirt, following Vitruvius, makes a start in his original type of construction with four corner-posts. If the necessity of an enclosure is to be satisfied no doubt our columns, if we are obliged to include such, must be walled up and it is not difficult to prove that half columns date from remote antiquity. Hirt, for instance[89], affirms that the employment of half columns is as old as the art of building itself, and deduces their origin from the circumstance that columns and piers supported and carried the roofing and other superimposed structures, but at the same time rendered partition walls necessary as a protection against sun and inclement weather. Since, however, the columns already supported the main building in a sufficient manner, it was not necessary to erect partition walls of either so thick or firm a material as the columns, and consequently this latter, as a rule, abutted on the exterior of the building. This theory of their origin may be correct, but for all that half columns are repugnant to a rational view of them; we have, in short, here two ends standing side by side in opposition, and essentially confounding each other, without any law of necessity being disclosed. It is of course possible to defend half columns, if the point of departure in considering even the column is so strictly that of the structure of wood, that we regard their essential function to be that of an enclosure. Placed in thick walls, however, the column has lost all its significance; it is degraded to the mere post. The true column is in its nature round, essentially complete, and expresses by this very trait of exclusiveness in a[Pg 76] visible way that it is antagonistic to an even surface, and, consequently, every inclusion in a wall. If, therefore, we desire to have the support of walls such must be even, not circular columns, but surfaces which can be extended evenly in a wall.

As far back as 1773 Goethe exclaimed with spirit to the like effect in his youthful essay, "On the German Art of Building": "What does it matter to us, you philosophical art-critic of the latest French school, that original man, spurred on by his needs to invent, drove into the ground four trunks, then fastened four poles on top and covered the whole with branches and moss. And after all it is wholly false to say that this hut of yours was the first begotten on earth. Two poles that cross each other at their ends, two behind and one stuck diagonally above in forest fashion is and remains, as you may any day see for yourself in the huts of the fields and the vineyard slopes, a far earlier discovery from which it is quite impossible for you to deduce a principle for your pig-stye." In other words Goethe seeks to prove that columns enclosed in walls placed in buildings whose essential object is that of mere enclosure have no meaning. This is not because he would not recognize the beauty of the column. On the contrary, he is loud in its praise. "But take good care," he adds, "not to employ them improperly: it is their nature to stand up free. Woe to the wretch who has soldered their slender growth in blockish walls." It is from such a point of view that he proceeds to consider the building art of the Middle Ages and our own time and affirms: "The column is of no value as a constituent feature of our dwellings: it rather contradicts the essence of all our buildings. Our houses do not consist of four columns in four corners; they consist of four walls on four sides, which stand in the place of all columns, totally exclude such, and where they are thrust in they are a burdensome superfluity. This applies to our palaces and churches, subject to one or two exceptions, which it is not necessary to particularize." We have in the above statement, which is the result of independent observation of the facts, the principle of the column correctly expressed. The column must place its foot down in front of the wall and appear in complete independence of it. In our more modern architecture no doubt we find pilasters freely[Pg 77] used; architects, have, however, regarded them as the repeated adumbration of previous columns, and made them flat rather than round.

(γγ) From this it is clear that though no doubt walls may serve as support, yet, for the reason that the function of support is already independently performed by columns, they must, on their part in finished classical architecture be accepted as essentially having for their object the enclosure. If they are taken as columns are taken, to provide means of support, the essentially distinct defining functions of these latter are not, as is most desirable, performed also as by distinct constituent parts of the building[90], and the conception of what walls ought to provide is impaired and confused. We consequently find even in temples that the central hall, where the statue of the god was placed, to enclose which was the main object, is often left open in the upper part. If, however, a roofing is required, the claims of the lofty style of beauty made it necessary that the same should be supported independently. In other words the direct imposition of entablature and roof on the enclosing walls is purely a matter of necessity and need; it is not appertinent to free architectural beauty, because in the art of classical buildings we require as means of support neither partitions nor walls, which would be rather derogatory to the design in so far as—we have already noticed the fact—they put together contrivances and a wall-space of greater extent than is actually necessary.

These would be the main distinguishing features which in classical architecture we have to keep apart.

(c) Although we may then, on the one hand, declare it as a principle of first importance that the distinctions which have been summarily indicated must appear with their differences emphasized, it is equally necessary on the other that they should be united in a whole. We will shortly, in conclusion, draw attention to this union which in architecture will be rather and simply a juxtaposition, association, and a thorough eurhythmy of the entire construction. Generally speaking the Greek temple buildings present an aspect which[Pg 78] both satisfies, and if we may use the expression, sates us to the full.

(α) There is no soaring up, but the whole just expands on the broad level and is extended without particular elevation. In order to view the building's face it is barely necessary to raise the sight with intention; it is, on the contrary, allured to the bare expanse, while the building art of Germany in the Middle Ages strives up almost without mass and soars. Among the ancients breadth, regarded as secure and convenient foundation on the earth, is the main thing. Height is rather borrowed from the height of man, and merely is increased in proportion as the building increases in breadth and width.

(β) Furthermore, embellishments are so effected that they do not impair the impression of simplicity. For much also depends on the mode of decoration. The ancients, more particularly the Greeks, preserve here the finest sense of proportion. Extensive surfaces and lines of entire simplicity, for instance, do not appear so large in this undivided simplicity as in the case where some variety, somewhat that destroys this uniformity is introduced, by which at once an extension of more definite outline is presented to the vision. If this subdivision, however, and its adornment is wholly elaborated in detail, so that we have nothing before us but a variety and its details, even the most imposing relations and dimensions appear to be crumbled away and destroyed. The ancients, therefore, as a rule are actuated in their works neither to let the same and their proportions by such means appear in any way greater than they actually are, nor do they break up the whole by means of interruptions and embellishments to the extent that—because all parts are small and a unity is absent which shall once more bring everything together and fuse it throughout—therefore the whole also shall appear as insignificant. To quite as little an extent are their works of beauty in their perfection merely piled up as mere weight on the ground, or tower up out of all relation to their breadth to the skies. They preserve in this respect, too, the mean of beauty, and offer at the same time in their simplicity necessary scope to a duly proportioned variety. Above all, however, the dominant feature of the whole and its simple particularities appear to[Pg 79] permeate in the most transparent way through all and everything, and overmasters the individuality of the configuration precisely in the way that in the classical Ideal the universal substance retains its power to control what is accidental and particular, in which the same receives its living form, and to bring it into harmony with itself.

(γ) With regard to the disposition and articulation of the several parts of a temple we find, on the one hand, a very marked graduation of elaboration, and on the other much that is purely traditional. The main distinctions that have an interest for us in this inquiry are limited to the temple precinct (ναὸς), enclosed by walls containing the image of the god, also the dwelling in front (πρόναος), that in the rear (ὀπισθόδομος), and the colonnades that encircle the entire structure. A dwelling in front and behind with a series of columns before it had originally the typical form, which Vitruvius calls ἀμφιπρόστυλος; to this was afterwards added a row on either side of the building, that is the περίπτερος; finally we have the completest form of elaboration in the δίπτερος, where this row of columns is doubled throughout the circuit, and in the ὔπαιθρος colonnades detached from the walls, and which it is possible to pass round, as in the case of the colonnades above, are added in double rows with the interior of the ναὸς itself. For such a type of temple Vitruvius instances as an example the eight-columned temple of Minerva at Athens, and the ten-columned one of Olympian Jupiter[91].

We will pass over in this place the more detailed consideration of the number of columns no less than the nature of the intervening spaces between themselves and the walls, and merely draw attention to the unique significance which such colonnades and forecourts, or halls possessed in general for the Greek temple. In these prostyles and amphiprostyles, that is, these single and double colonnades, which brought you direct into the open sunshine, we observe that men can move about openly and free and can group themselves as they choose, or according to the chance of the moment. Columns are, in short, not an enclosure, but a limitation through which you can always pass, so that you can be partially within and without them at once, and at[Pg 80] any rate can everywhere step from them into the open day. In the same way the long walls at the back of the columns do not permit of any pressure to one central point, whither our sight may instinctively turn when the passages are crowded. On the contrary the eye is rather diverted from such a point of unity in every direction; and instead of the conception of a congregation brought together for One purpose we observe a tendency outwards, and merely receive the impression of a means of spending the time devoid of seriousness, light-hearted, idle, and provocative of chatter. Within the enclosure no doubt we have suggested a profounder aim, but even here we find surrounding features[92], which more or less indicate that we are not to take such a purpose too seriously. Consequently the impression of such a temple, though no doubt simple and imposing, is at the same time gay, open, and pleasing to the sense; the entire building, in short, is rather arranged as a place for standing about in, strolling round, for ingress and egress than in order to enable an assembly of persons to concentrate their numbers in one spot shut off from the rest of the world.


Casting our glance now on the different forms of construction which offer us the predominant examples of distinctive type in classical architecture we may emphasize the following as most important.

(a) What first arrests our attention in this field are those kinds of building whose lines of distinction are most noticeable in their columns; for this reason I shall myself, too, limit myself to a statement of the pre-eminently characteristic traits of the various types of column.

The most famous among the orders of columns are the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, over whose architectural beauty and adaptation to definite purpose, neither the research of earlier times nor our own has been able to add anything.[Pg 81] For we may assume that the Tuscan, or, according to Hirt[93], the ancient Greek type of building belongs in its undecorative crudeness to the original and simple type of wood structure, not to the architecture of beauty, and the so-called Roman order of columns is of no real moment, being merely an increase in the decorative character of the Corinthian. The important points in this inquiry are the relation of the height of columns to their thickness, the type of base and capital to be distinguished in each case, and, finally, the greater or less intervening spaces between the columns. With regard to the first, if the column is not of a height four times as large as its diameter it appears too bulky and depressed; if its height, however, exceeds such a proportion by being ten times as large, the column will appear too slender to the eye, and too slim as a means of support. The respective intervals between the columns must, however, be considered in close relation to the above facts; if the columns appear more stout they should be placed nearer to one another, if on the contrary the impression they produce is one of slightness and lankness the intervals have to be larger. It is a matter of equal importance, and this is so whether the columns have a pedestal or not, whether the capital is of higher or less ample size, is without or with decoration, for it is by this means that the entire character of the column is altered. With regard to the column's shaft, however, the rule obtains that it should be smooth and devoid of decoration, although it does not rise throughout of the same thickness, but is appreciably more slender at the top than it is midway and at the base, and the change is such that there is a swelling which, though barely perceptible, is none the less present. In more recent times no doubt, notably in the Middle Ages, when the antique types of columns were converted to the use of Christian architecture, the smoothness of shaft was found to be too cold, and for this reason wreaths of flowers were entwined round them, or columns of spiral form were permitted no doubt on similar grounds; this, however, is inadmissible and opposed to the best taste, because the true function of the column is simply that of support, and to carry this out they ought to rise in a secure and straight[Pg 82] line and be self-subsistent[94]. The only divergency from the rule in columnar structure which the ancients admitted was that of the groove, a variation which, as Vitruvius points out, made such appear broader than when their surface is wholly smooth. Such grooving we find carried out very extensively.

I will now indicate more closely the main distinguishing features of the Doric, Ionian, and Corinthian order of columns respectively.

(α) In primitive buildings security of structure is the fundamental characteristic beyond which architecture fails to go; consequently it does not as yet dare to risk relations of a slender kind with the bolder lightness which belongs to them, but rests satisfied with forms of greater bulk. This is the case in the Doric type of building. We find here that the material aspect with its onerous weight still is that which is most influential, and is particularly apparent in the relations of breadth and height. When a building is erected in lightness and freedom the burden of heavy masses is overcome; if on the contrary its disposition is one which suggests mainly breadth and a low elevation the prevailing impression, as in the Doric style, is that of stability and solidity, subservient to the dominant force of gravity.

Consistently with this character Doric columns, if contrasted with the other two orders, are the broadest and lowest. The more ancient examples do not rise above a height which is six times their diameter, and not unfrequently they are merely four times that breadth; for this reason they give, by virtue of their unwieldiness, the impression of an earnest, simple, and unadorned manliness, such as we have exemplified in the temples at Paestum and Corinth. The later examples of the Doric order, however, extend their columns to a height of seven times this unit of measure, and, for buildings other than temples, Vitruvius adds yet another half diameter. More generally, however, the distinctive character of the Doric type consists in this that it approximates most nearly to the primitive simplicity of the wood building, although it is more receptive than[Pg 83] the Tuscan to decorative work and embellishments. The columns, however, have almost without exception no distinctive base; they stand up directly on their foundation[95], and their capitals are arranged in the simplest way out of ovolo ornament and plinth. The shaft is sometimes left smooth, sometimes grooved with twenty drills, which frequently were flat for one third of the way from the base, and hollowed out in circular form the rest of the way[96]. As regards the interval between the columns, according to the older monuments, the breadth is twice the diameter of a column, and only a few exceed this by a width between two and two and a half diameters. Another peculiarity of the Doric type of building in which it approaches the type of wood construction consists in triglyphs and metopes. In other words triglyphs indicate in the frieze the tops of the beams of the entablature with which the architrave culminates inserted there by means of prismatical incisions[97], while the metopes fill up the spaces between one beam and another, and in the Doric construction still retain the form of the square[98]. As a decoration they are frequently covered with reliefs, while beneath the triglyphs, which rest on the architrave, and as a culmination to the surfaces of the cornice on their lower side, we have for embellishment six small conical bodies, technically known as drops.

(β) In the Doric style we are already made aware of an advance in the characteristics of a solidity which affects us with pleasure. In Ionic architecture this upward progress is further emphasized in a type notable for its slenderness, charm, and grace, if still expressed in a simple way. The height of the columns varies between that of seven and ten times the width of the diameter at the base, and is determined, according to the conclusions of Vitruvius, pre-eminently[Pg 84] by the breadth of the intervening spaces of the columns, that is to say, where they are wider the columns appear thinner, and consequently more slender, where they are more narrow, however, they appear stouter and of less height. For this reason the architect is forced, in order to avoid an excess of thinness or bulk, in the first case to reduce the height, and in the second to increase it. In the case, then, where the intervals exceed three diameters the height of the columns will merely carry eight of such, where there is an interval of two and a quarter rising to three, the height will rise to eight and a half diameters. If the columns, however, are separated only by the width of two diameters, the height must be extended to nine and a half times the unit, and in the extreme case of an interval of but one and a half times, such height will even rise to ten times the breadth of diameter. However, cases such as these latter ones appear very seldom, and, in so far as we may judge from such monuments of the Ionic type of building that have come down to us, the ancients made very scanty use of those relations which necessitated the more lofty columns.

The Ionic type is further distinguished from the Doric in this that the Ionic columns do not rise directly with their shaft from the substructure, but are set up on a variously articulated pedestal, and then in unobtrusive rejuvenescence rise lightly in their slender height to their capitals with a deeper hollowing out than in the Doric type, a broad grooving of four and twenty grooves. It is especially in this characteristic that the Ionic temple at Ephesus is distinguishable from and in contrast to the Doric at Paestum. In the same way we find an increase of variety and grace in the Ionic capital. It has not only a carved coussinet[99], little ledge and plinth, but receives both to the right and left a spiral winding, and at the sides a decorative kind of cushion, from which is derived its title of the pulvinated capital. The volutes at the end of the pad or cushion indicate the end of the column, which, however, may rise to a still greater elevation, but in this possible increase makes itself essentially a curve.

[Pg 85]

Compatibly with this slender character of the pleasing decoration of its columns the Ionic type of building requires a less bulky weight in its beams, and is concerned in this way too to secure an increase of grace. By doing so it no longer suggests as a predecessor as the Doric does the wood construction, and consequently suffers triglyphs and metopes to fall away in the flat frieze, introducing in their place as its principal means of decoration, heads of sacrificial animals united with flowery coils, and, instead of the suspended mutule[100] tops, we find tooth-like ornamentation[101].

(γ) Finally, to come to the Corinthian order, we find it is in fundamentals composed upon the Ionic, only that with a similar slenderness it is elaborated in more tasteful luxuriance, and unfolds the consummate finish of adornment and embellishment. Like it content to possess the definite and various divisions of its structure as a legacy from the wood building, it emphasizes the same without permitting their origin to be conspicuous by means of its decorative work, and expresses, in its manifold ledges and borders on cornice and beam, on its weather moulds, its moulding flutes, its variously articulated pediments and its more luxuriant capitals, a multiplicity of pleasing features.

The Corinthian column, it is true, does not exceed in height the Ionic, rising as a rule with a grooving of similar character, merely eight times or eight and a half times as high as the diameter of the lower portion of the column, but it appears more slender and above all more exuberant by virtue of a loftier capital. For the capital's height is one and an eighth times the diameter beneath, and has at each of its four corners more slender volutes which suffer the pulvination of the previous type to fall off, while the part below is decorated with acanthus leaves. The Greeks have a charming tale relative to this. A maiden of exceptional beauty, they tell us, died. Her nurse collected her playthings in a little basket and placed it on her grave, where an acanthus plant sprang up. The leaves very soon embraced the basket, and it was this which suggested the thought of the capital of a column.

[Pg 86]

Of other points of difference between the Corinthian and the Ionic and Doric orders, I will only further mention the delicately curved mutules under the cornices, and the projection of the water moulding, and the indentations and corbel-heads on the cornice[102].

(b) We may, secondly, regard the Roman type of building as an intermediate form standing between that of Greek and Christian architecture, in so far as here we find mainly the application of arch and vaultings. It is not possible to determine with accuracy the time when the construction of arches was first discovered; it appears, however, certain that neither the Egyptians, despite the great progress they made in the arts of building, nor the Babylonians, Israelites, and Phoenicians were cognisant of the ogive or the vault. The monuments of Egyptian architecture at any rate only show us that when it was a question of superimposing a roof over the interior of a building the one means the Egyptians had at their disposal was that of placing huge slabs of stone across like beams in horizontal position. If it was required to arch up broad entrances, or cross arches they knew of no other way of doing this than letting one stone on either side project forward, with another still more projecting one above it, so that the side walls gradually approached upwards until they reached a point where only one stone was necessary to close the remaining space between. Where such an expedient was not necessary they covered the spaces with huge slabs of stone arranged across in the manner of rafters.

Among the Greeks we do, I believe, find monuments in which the arch construction has already been adopted, but they are rare; and Hirt, who has written with most authority over the building and the history of the building of antiquity, affirms that among such monuments we can rely on none with security as dating from a time previous to that of Pericles. In other words, in Greek architecture the features which are characteristic and elaborated are the column and beam in horizontal position, so that we find here the column very little used in a relation which lies apart from its true function, namely that of supporting beams. Moreover the[Pg 87] arch that is vaulted from two piers or columns, and the knob-like formation, connotes a yet further feature, for we find here that the column already begins to forsake its determinate attribute of support. For the circular arch in its rise, its flexure and its declivity is related to a centre which has nothing to do with the column as a means of support. The separate parts of the circular arch are carried in mutual opposition; they support and prolong each other in a way that shows them far more remote from the direct assistance of the column than is the horizontally superimposed beam.

In Roman architecture, then, as stated, the arch-construction and vaulting is of very common occurrence, or rather we have certain remains which we can only attribute to the age of the Roman kings, if we may fully believe the evidence of later times. Of this type are the catacombs and cloaca, which were vaulted, but must be regarded as works of a more recent restoration. The most probable discoverer yet suggested of the vault is Democritus[103], who occupied himself in a variety of ways with mathematical problems and is held to be the discoverer of lithotomy.

One of the most famous buildings of Roman architecture, in which the circular arch appears as fundamental type is the Pantheon of Agrippa dedicated to Jupiter Ultor, which, in addition to the statue of Jupiter, contained colossal images of gods in no less than six other niches, namely, Mars, Venus, the deified Julius Caesar as well as three others whose identity we cannot fix with accuracy. In either side of these niches stood two Corinthian columns, and the whole was vaulted with one majestic vault in form of the half globe and corresponding to the vault of heaven. With reference to the material of this vault we may note that it is not a stone one. In other words the Romans, in the majority of their vaultings, in the first instance carried out a construction of wood, and covered the same with a composition of chalk and puzzolana cement, which was made of the dust of a light kind of tufa and broken tile shards. When this composition was dry the whole was formed into a mass so that the wooden scaffolding could be removed and the vaulting, by virtue of the lightness of[Pg 88] its material and the stability of its consolidation, exercised only an insignificant pressure on the walls.

(c) The architecture of the Romans possessed moreover generally, and apart from this novel employment of arch construction, an entirely different scope and character than that of Greece. The Greeks distinguished themselves, while carrying throughout their work its main purpose, and by virtue of their perfection as artists, in the nobility, the simplicity no less than the airy delicacy of their decorations. The Romans on the contrary are, as artists, at least on the mechanical side of construction more rich and more ostentatious, but at the same time of less nobility and grace. Add to this in their architecture we meet with a variety of intention which was unknown to the Greek. As I have already observed the Greeks entirely devoted the splendour and beauty of art to public objects. Their private dwellings remained insignificant. Among the Romans, however, not only do we find an increase of public buildings, whose main purpose of construction was splendidly embellished in theatres, spaces for animal combats and other means of public sport, but architecture received a deliberate impulse in the direction of private use. More especially after the civil wars villas, baths, colonnades, flights of steps were constructed with the imposing character of the most luxurious extravagance, and by this means a new opening was made for the arts of building, which also included that of gardening, which was perfected in a way that evinced very considerable talent and taste. The villa of Lucullus is a striking example.

This type of Roman architecture has in many respects rendered service as a model to Italians and Frenchmen of t more recent times. Among ourselves we have for a long time to some measure followed in the steps of the Italians, and also to some extent in those of the French; finally men have once more devoted their attention to the Greeks, and have accepted as an object of imitation the antique in its purer form.

[Pg 89]



The Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages, which constitutes here the characteristic centre of the truly romantic type, has for a long time, more especially since the popularization and predominance of the French taste, been regarded as something rude and barbarous. In recent times it was Goethe who mainly, in the first instance, and in the youthful freshness of his own nature and artistic outlook, brought once more the Gothic type to its place of honour. Critical taste has been more and more concerned to appreciate and respect these imposing works as giving effective expression both to the distinctive purpose of Christian culture, and the harmonious unity thereby created between architectonic form and the ideal spirit of Christendom.


In so far as the general character of these buildings is concerned, in which religious architecture is that which is most prominent, we discovered already in our introduction to this part of our inquiry that in this type both those of independent and serviceable architecture are united. This unity, however, does not in any way consist in a fusion of the architectural forms of the Oriental and the Greek, but we must look for it in the fact that, on the one hand, the house or dwelling-enclosure furnishes yet more the fundamental type than in the Greek temple construction, and, on the other, mere serviceableness and purpose is to that extent eliminated, and the house is emphasized apart from it in its free independence. No doubt these houses of God and other buildings of this type appear to the fullest extent as[Pg 90] constructed for definite objects, as already stated, but their true character is precisely this, that it reaches over and beyond the determinate aim and presents itself in a form of self-seclusion and positive local independence. The creation stands up in its place independent, secure, and eternal. For this reason the character of the entirety is no longer to be deduced from any purely scientific or theoretical relation. Within the interior the box-like envelope of our Protestant churches falls away which are built simply that they may be filled with men and women, and do not possess church pews as stalls; in their exterior, the building soars in its roofing and pinnacles freely upwards, so that the relation of purpose, however much it be also present, tends again to disappear, leaving the impression of the whole that of a self-subsistent existence. Such a building is entirely filled up by nothing expressly; everything is absorbed in the grandeur of the whole: it possesses and declares a definite object, but in its grandiose proportions and sublime repose it is essentially and with an infinite significance exalted[104] above all mere intentional serviceableness. This exaltation over finitude and simple security is that which constitutes the unique characteristic aspect of it. From another point of view it is precisely in this type that architecture finds the greatest opportunity for particularisation, diversion of effect and variety, without permitting, however, the whole to fall into mere details and accidental particulars. The imposing character of the art we are considering restores, on the contrary, this aspect of division and dismemberment in the original impression of simplicity. It is the substantive being of the whole which is set in division and dismemberment in an infinite multiplicity throughout the entire complexus of individual and varied distinctions; but this unbounded complexity is subdivided in a simple way, is articulated according to rule, broken into parts symmetrically by the same substance, which is the motive and constitutive principle throughout in a harmonious co-ordination which entirely satisfies, and which combines without let or hindrance the mass of detail in all their length and breadth in securest unity and most perspicuous independence.

[Pg 91]


If we pass now to a consideration of the particular forms in which romantic architecture receives its specific character we shall find, as we have already above noticed, that our entire discussion will be confined to what is genuine Gothic architecture, and mainly that of the church buildings of Christendom, in their contrast to the Greek temple.

(a) As fundamental form underlying all the rest, we have here the wholly shut off dwelling-house.

(α) In other words, just as the Christian spirit withdraws itself within an ideal realm, the building is the place essentially delimited on all sides for the congregation of the Christian community and the gathering together of spiritual life. It is the concentration of essential soul-life which thus encloses itself in spatial relations. The devotion of the Christian heart, however, is at the same time and in the same degree an exaltation over finitude, so that this exaltation, moreover, determines the character of God's house. Architecture secures thereby as its significance, independently of the object which renders it necessary as a building, this exaltation to the Infinite, a significance which it is forced to express through the spatial relations of architectural forms. The impression, therefore, which art is now called upon to emphasize is, in one aspect of it, and in contrast to the open gaiety of the Greek temple, that of the tranquillity of the soul which, released from external nature and worldly conditions, retires wholly into self-seclusion; in the other aspect of it it is that impress of a solemn sublimity, which strains and soars over and beyond all rational limits. If, therefore, the buildings of classical architecture as a rule offer the expansion of breadth, we find in contrast to this that the romantic character of Christian churches asserts itself in the growth upwards from the soil and a soaring to the skies.

(β) In this oblivion of external Nature and all the diverting occupations and interests of finite existence, which is to be effected by means of such seclusion, the open forecourts and colonnades and the like, which are in direct communication[Pg 92] with that world, furthermore and of necessity fall away, or only receive an entirely modified representation within the interior of the building. And in like manner the light of the sun is either excluded, or glimmers in broken rays through windows of painted glass, which, to prevent total immersion in darkness, are perforce admitted. What humanity needs here is not the gift of external Nature, but a world created through it and for it alone, for its devotion and the activity of its soul-life.

(γ) We may fix as the pervading type by which the house of God is generally and with particular reference to its sections characterized that of the free rise and running up into pinnacles, whether they be built up by means of the arch or straight lines. In classical architecture, where we find columns and piers with superimposed beams is the fundamental form, rectangularity and the office of support is the feature of importance. For the construction superimposed at right angles marks in a definite way that it is supported. And even though the beams do in their turn carry the roofing, the surfaces of this latter portion incline to one another in an obtuse angle. In such a construction we find no trace of a genuine tendency to points and a soaring up: we find simply repose and support. In the same way, too, a circular arch, which extends in a continuous and equally gradated incline from one column to another, and is referable to one and the same centre, rests on its substructure of support. In romantic architecture, however, we no longer find the relation of support simply and rectangularity the fundamental form, but rather we have before us the fact that all that is enclosed either on its interior or exterior side independently springs upward, and, without the secure and express distinction between the relationship of weight and support, concentrates in a point. This pre-eminently free striving upwards and tendency to inclines that run to culminating points is what constitutes here the essential determinant, by virtue of which either acute-angled triangles with a more slender or broader base or pointed arches appear, both of which aspects stand out most obviously in the characterization of Gothic architecture.

(b) Moreover, the obligations of spiritual devotion and exaltation, regarded as a cultus, bring before us a variety of[Pg 93] definite conditions and features which cannot be fully met on the exterior of the building in the open halls or forecourts of a temple, but can only be satisfied within the house of God itself. If, therefore, in the case of the temple of classical architecture it is the external form which is of most importance, and we find it remaining by means of the colonnades more independent of the interior construction, romantic architecture presents a contrast to this not merely in the fact that the interior of the building is more essentially important, for the reason that the whole purports to be simply an enclosure, but also in this, that the interior permeates the very form of the exterior throughout, and determines its specific shape and mode of articulation.

In this connection we will, in order to examine the matter more closely, first make an entrance into the interior, and working outwards therefrom endeavour to elucidate the exterior.

(α) The definition I have already adduced as best describing the interior of the church is that of a certain place set apart and enclosed in all its aspects, whether it be in opposition to the inclemency of the weather or the distractions of the outer world, for the community and its spiritual worship. The space of the interior is consequently an enclosure in the completest sense, whereas Greek temples, apart from the presence of open passages and halls in the environment, not unfrequently possessed open cells.

Inasmuch as, moreover, Christian worship is an exaltation of the soul above the limitations of natural existence and a reconciliation of the individual with God, we find in this fact a mediation of points of view which are separably distinct in one and the same essentially concrete unity. At the same time romantic architecture receives the function in the form and co-ordination of its building to make the above content of spiritual life, to enclose which is the prime object of its construction, so far as this is architecturally feasible, shine through and determine the actual shape both of the exterior and the interior. The following points will assist our understanding of the nature of this problem.

(αα) The space of the interior will have to be no abstractly undifferentiated and empty one, which possesses no essentially defined features or links that relate them respectively.[Pg 94] It must have a concrete form, one, that is, which presents differences in respect to all the mutual relations of length, breadth, height, and the mode of such dimensions. The form of the circle, the square, the oblong, with the equality of enclosing walls and roofing which is necessary to these figures, will not be suitable here. The movement, severation, and mediation of soul-life in its exaltation from that which is of earth to that which is eternal, to the far-off and the more lofty, would fail to find apt expression in this bare equality of a square figure.

(ββ) It is only a corollary to this that in the Gothic style the substantial purport of the house, both in respect of its enclosing form of sidewalls and roof, and in that of its columns and beams relatively to the configuration of the whole and its parts, becomes a matter of subordinate importance. And with this disappears, on the one hand, as we have already noticed, the strict distinction between burden and support, as on the other we find no longer rectangularity is emphasized as essential to the building's purpose. Recourse is made once more to an analogous form of Nature, namely, one that prefigures a solemn place of assemblage and enclosure which freely soars upwards. If we step into the interior of a cathedral of the Middle Ages we have brought before us not so much the stability and mechanical purpose of supporting piers and a vault that rests upon it. We are rather reminded of the arches of a forest, whose rows of trees incline with their branches to one another and form an enclosure by this means. A cross-beam requires a secure centre of gravity and the horizontal position. In Gothic architecture, however, the walls mount up freely and independently, and in the same way the piers, which then expand above in several directions apart from one another, and coalesce as though by accident. In other words their function, to support the vaulting, is, although the same in truth reposes on the piers, not expressly emphasized and independently set forth[105]. The effect is as though they did not carry such, just as in the tree the branches do not appear as though supported by the stem, but rather in their airy incurvation as a continuation of the stem, and with the branches of other trees, form a roof of leaves. A roofing[Pg 95] of this kind, which is thus fixed upon as the cover of the life of Spirit, this awful environment, which invites us to contemplation, it is which the cathedral presents us, in so far as the walls and among them the forest of piers freely coalesce in their summits. But for all that we do not actually assert that Gothic architecture has accepted trees and woods for the actual exemplar of its forms.

While the sharpening to a point offers us generally the basic type in Gothic we find in the interior of churches this tendency take the more specialized shape of the pointed arch. By this means the columns in particular receive an entirely fresh significance and appearance.

The broad Gothic churches require a roofing to close them in, a roofing which on account of the breadth is a severe burden and renders support unavoidable. Here, therefore, the columns appear to be in their right place. For the reason, however, that the straining upwards is precisely that which converts support into the appearance of free soaring-up columns are unable to be employed here with the significance they possess in classical architecture. They become, on the contrary, piers which, in lieu of the cross-beam, carry arches in a manner whereby they appear as simply a continuation of the pier and coalesce together without definite object in a point. We may, no doubt, conceive the unavoidable termination of two piers that stand apart from one another as analogous to a gut-roof that rests on corner posts; but taking into consideration the surfaces at the sides, although they, too, are planted on piers in entirely obtuse angles, and incline to one another in an acute angle, we find in the latter case none the less the conception on the one hand of burden, and on the other of support. The pointed arch, on the contrary, which apparently in the first instance mounts up in a straight line, and only by imperceptible and slower degrees leans forward in order to incline to the opposite side, presents for the first time the complete idea as though it was just nothing but the continuation of the pier itself, which forms an arch with another. Piers and vaulting appear, in their contrast to columns and the beam, as one and the same image, although the arches rest upon the capitals from which they spring. The capitals, too, in specific cases, such as occur in Netherland churches,[Pg 96] keep away altogether, and by this means the inseparable unity above-mentioned is made expressly visible to the eye.

Moreover, on account of the fact that this striving upwards is declared as the fundamental character, the height of the piers exceeds that of the breadth of their base in a proportion that we cannot calculate at sight. The piers are thin, slender, and soar up so high the sight is unable to take in the entire form at a glance, and is compelled to rove about in its upward flight until it attains repose at last in the gently inclined vaulting of the uniting arch, much as the soul moving with restlessness in its devotion from the ground of finitude uplifts itself and finds rest in God alone.

The final point of distinction between piers and columns consists in this, that the piers which are distinctively Gothic, and, where they are elaborated in their specific character, do not, as columns do, remain in the circular form, essentially secure in that, and one and the same cylinder, but to begin with at their base in a reed-like way constitute a convolute, a bundle of fibres, which break into varied distinction as the pier mounts and radiate forth on all sides under various modes of continuation. And, while we find already in classical architecture that the column represents an advance from that which is merely subject to laws of gravity, from the solid and simple to that which is more slender and more adorned, so, too, we find much the same change visible in the pier, which, in this more slender upgrowth, ever withdraws itself more from the mere service of support, and freely soars upward albeit shut in at its summit.

The same form of piers and pointed arches is repeated in windows and doors. More particularly the windows, not merely the lower ones of the side aisles, but also in a still higher degree, the upper ones of the transepts and choir, are of colossal size in order that the glance, which rests upon their lower portion, may not at once take in the upper part as well and may be uplifted as in the case of the vaultings. This adds to the restless motion of the upward flight which it is intended to communicate to the spectator. Add to this the window panes, as we have already remarked, are with their coloured glass only partially transparent. Sometimes they present sacred histories and sometimes they are merely panes of varied colour with the object[Pg 97] of increasing the twilight effect and permitting the light of the wax candles to shine forth. For in these buildings it is another daylight than that of Nature which illumines.

(γγ) Finally, as regards the entire articulation of the interior of Gothic churches we have already seen that it is imperative that the particular parts of such should be differentiated in their breadth, height, and length. The primary distinction to consider in this respect is that of choir, transept, and nave from the encircling aisles. These latter are constructed on the sides external to the fabric by means of walls which enclose it, and from which piers and arches are carried, and in their separation from the interior by means of piers and pointed arches, which present openings toward the nave, having no partition walls between. They receive therefore the converse aspect to that of the colonnades in Greek temples, which are open on the outside and are enclosed towards the interior, whereas the aisles in Gothic churches permit free passage between the piers to the nave. In certain examples we find two such aisles in juxtaposition; in fact, Antwerp cathedral is an example which possesses three of them at either side of the nave.

The nave itself soars up by means of enclosing walls on either side, at different degrees of elevation, according to various modes of disposition, above the aisles, broken by colossal windows in such a way that the walls themselves at the same time have the appearance of being slender piers, which everywhere separate in pointed arches and build up vaultings. There are, however, churches in which the side aisles have the same height as the nave, as, for example, in the later choirs of the Sebaldus Church in Nuremberg, which offers the impression of an imposing, free, and capacious type of slenderness and delicacy. In this way the whole is divided by means of rows of piers, which are brought together at their summits like a forest in flights of branching arches. Attempts have been made to discover in the number of these piers, and generally in the relations of number much mystical significance. There can be no question but that at the period of the finest efflorescence of Gothic architecture, that, for example, of Cologne Cathedral, a great significance was attached to the symbols of number, the as yet more gloomy presentiment of what is rational falling in[Pg 98] readily with an insistence on external traits of this kind. But despite this fact the artistic productions of architecture, which are carried through by means of that which is always to a greater or less degree merely the capricious play of a symbolism of subordinate rank, is neither of the profoundest significance, nor of the most exalted form of beauty, for the reason that the genuine spirit of these is expressed in entirely different forms and modes than those applicable to the significance of numeral distinctions. We must therefore be especially cautious not to carry such investigations too far. To attempt to go to the root of everything and in every direction to desire to discover a deeper meaning will tend quite as much to contract our horizon and destroy our thoroughness of search as is common with all short-sighted learning which passes over the depth which is clearly expressed and presented without grasping it. In respect to the more detailed distinction between choir and nave, I will in conclusion emphasize the following points. The high-altar, this real centre of the ritual, is placed in the choir, which is thus dedicated as the place for the priesthood as distinct from the community, whose proper place is that of the nave, where we find the pulpit for the preacher. A flight of steps, which varies in its height, conducts us to the choir, so that this latter section and all that takes place in it is visible everywhere. In the same way this choir section is relatively to decoration more ornate, and, moreover, in its distinction from the more prolonged nave, even where the vaultings in both cases are of equal height, is more serious, solemn, and sublime. Above all we find here that the entire building is finally enclosed with piers of greater thickness and more closely, by means of which the breadth tends to disappear, and the entire effect is one of greater stillness and height, whereas the transepts and the nave through their towers still provide with their means of entrance and exit a connection with the outside world. According to the points of the compass the choir is placed to the east, the nave lies in a westerly direction, and the transepts stand towards the north and south. We find, however, churches with a double choir, in which the two choirs lie respectively in the direction of morning and evening and the main entrances are placed in the transepts. The stone[Pg 99] font for baptism, that is, for the sanctification of human entry into the Christian community, is placed in a porch by the main entrance into the church. And, finally, we may note that, while the more express worship is provided for by the entire building, and notably the choir and nave, there are also small chapels which form in each case a fresh and independent church.

This must suffice as a description of the articulate structure of the whole. In a cathedral of this type there is space enough for an entire people. For here it is the intention that the community of a city and district do not congregate round the building, but within the same. And for this reason all the varied interests of life which in any way come into contact with religion have, too, a place assigned them. No fixed divisions of seats placed in rows divide and diminish the broad space, but everyone comes and departs in peace, engages for himself or takes a seat for immediate use, kneels down, offers his prayer and removes himself once more. If it is not the hour of high mass the most various things take place at the same time, and there is no confusion. In one portion a sermon is delivered, in another a sick man is brought in; between these points we may find a slow procession; at one spot, we have a baptism, at another a deceased person is carried through the church. Or we may find in one place a priest delivering mass or celebrating the marriage services and in every direction the people in broken groups kneel before altars and sacred images. All such things are embraced by one and the same building. But this very variety and individualization disappears, nevertheless, with its alternations when contrasted with the expanse and size of the building. Nothing completely fills up the whole, every incident passes by; individuals with all that they do are lost and dispersed as points in this grandiose whole. What happens at a given time is merely visible in its passing flight, and over and above all the huge and almost measureless spaces soar up in their secure and immutable form and construction.

Such, then, are the fundamental characteristics of the interior of Gothic churches. We must not look here for any definite purpose as such, but rather an object for the private devotion of the soul in its self-absorption in every detail of[Pg 100] the spiritual life[106], and its elevation over all that is isolated and finite. For this reason these buildings are cut off from Nature by spaces enclosed on all sides, built up in the atmosphere of gloom and at the same time to the smallest detail in a spirit that strives upwards sublime and immeasurable.

(β) If we direct our attention now to the external aspect we shall find, as we have already above observed, that in contrast to the Greek temple the exterior configuration in Gothic architecture, the decoration and co-ordination of the walls and all else is determined from within outwards, the exterior having to appear simply as an enclosure of the interior.

In this connection we have good reason to emphasize the following points:

(αα) In the first place in the form of the cross which we find dominates the whole exterior we cannot fail to recognize in outline a similar construction as that which obtains within, a form which cuts, the nave and choir in two, and supplies, moreover, the distinctions of height which obtain between the aisles, the nave and choir.

On closer inspection we find that the principal façade, as the external form of the aisles and nave, corresponds in the portals to the particular construction within. A more lofty principal door, by which we pass direct into the nave, stands between the smaller entrances into the aisles, and suggests by means of the contraction in perspective that the exterior must draw together, grow more narrow, and disappear in order than an entrance may be thereby provided. The interior is the background already visible, into the depths of which the exterior is carried, just as the soul is constrained to grow more profound as ideality when it enters its own intrinsic wealth. Over the doors at the sides extend in the most direct connection with the interior colossal windows, just as the portals rise up to similar pointed arches, in a way similar to that in which they are employed as the particular form for the vaultings of the interior. Between these doors over the principal portal a large circular window branches out, the rose-window, a form[Pg 101] which is, we may add, the exclusive and peculiar possession of this type of building, and only fitted to it. Where such rose-windows are absent we find substituted for them a still more colossal window with pointed arches. The façades of the transepts are divided in a similar way while the walls of the nave, the choir, and the aisles in their windows and their form, no less than in the position of the solid walls between, repeat in all respects the form of the interior and set the same forth on the outside.

(ββ) In the second place, however, the exterior begins to make itself at the same time intelligible to itself[107] in this close association with the form and subdivision of the interior for the very reason that it has its own peculiar tasks to fulfil. In this connection we may mention the flying buttresses. They represent the position of the many piers within the building and are necessary as points of support for the elevation and security of the whole. At the same time they further make apparent on the outside, so far as interval, number, and other features are concerned, the rows of piers on the inside, albeit they do not exactly reproduce the shape of the interior piers, but the higher they mount up become reduced in the strength of their springing buttresses.

(γγ) Inasmuch as, however, in the third place, it is only the interior which has to be one essentially complete enclosure, this feature is lost in the form of the exterior and makes way in every respect for the all-prevailing characteristics of continuous elevation. And for this reason the exterior receives at the same time a form independent of the interior, which asserts itself mainly in a tendency to strive upwards on all sides into points and pinnacles, breaking out in them one on the top of another. To this fundamental feature belong the lofty uplifted triangles which, independently of the pointed arches, soar upwards over the portals, pre-eminently the principal façade, though also over the colossal windows of the nave and choir, and in a similar way the slenderly pointed shape of the roof, whose gable-end is especially prominent in the façades of the transepts. Add to these the flying buttresses, which everywhere terminate[Pg 102] in little pointed pinnacles, and in this way, just as the rows of piers within the building create a forest of stems, branches, and vaultings, on their part on the exterior stretch up heavenwards a forest of points.

With most independence and most emphatically, however, it is the towers which rise upwards in their sublime summits. In other words we find that the entire mass of the building concentrates among other things itself in them, in order that thus in its main towers it may be without hindrance uplifted to an incalculable height without thereby losing its character of repose and stability. Such towers are either placed in the principal façade over the two side entrances, while a third and broader main tower springs up at the point where the vaulting of the transepts, choir, and nave meet, or one single tower constitutes the principal façade and is raised above the entire breadth of the nave. Such are at any rate the positions which are most usual. In direct connection with the worship such towers have belfries, that is, to the extent that the ringing of bells properly applies to Christian services. This merely indefinite tone of the bell is a solemn stimulus of the soul-life, though in the first instance one that as yet prepares the worshipper only on the outside of the building. The articulate tone, on the other hand, wherein a definite content of feelings and ideas is expressed, is the song which is only to be heard within the church. The inarticulate clang of the bell finds its right place on the outside and only there and is sounded forth from the towers that its peal may pass forth as from some pure height far over the land.

(c) As to the mode of decoration I have already pointed to the main features of determinate character.

(α) The first point we have to emphasize is the importance of ornament generally for Gothic architecture. Classical architecture preserves as a rule a wise mean in the adornment of its constructions. Inasmuch as, however, it is the main interest of Gothic architecture to make the masses which it places in position appear larger and considerably more lofty than they in fact are it is not satisfied with plain surfaces, but subdivides the same throughout; and, moreover, breaks them up with forms which themselves suggest on their part a striving upwards. Piers, pointed arches, and[Pg 103] triangles, which rise above them with their pinnacles, occur, too, as decorative work. In this way we find that the simple unity of the great masses is impaired, and the elaboration is carried to the point of every conceivable detail, leaving the entire effect, however, involved in the most flagrant contradiction. On the one hand we cannot fail to observe the most obvious outlines in a clearly defined co-ordination, on the other we have fulness and variety of delicate embellishment impossible to follow with the eye, so that the most motley particularity is directly set up in contrast to what is most universal and simple, just as the soul, in the opposition implied in Christian worship, is deeply engaged in finite things, and indeed carries its life into the mere detail and the trifle. This very opposition acts as a stimulus to contemplation, this striving up invites to a like action. For what is of paramount importance in this style of decoration is this that it do not, by the mass and alternation of its ornament, destroy or cover up the fundamental outlines, but rather suffer them completely to make their way through such variety as the essential feature of importance. Only when it can do this, and I speak in particular of Gothic buildings, is the solemnity of their imposing seriousness kept intact. Just as religious devotion has to permeate all particular experiences of soul-life, the life-conditions of every type of humanity, has further to engrave indelibly on the heart its universal and incommutable ideas, so in the same way the simple and fundamental architectural features should have strength sufficient to recall the most varied articulation, diversity and embellishment of the structure once more within the fundamental impression of those outlines and wholly thus absorb them.

(β) A further aspect in decorative work is bound up in the same way with the romantic type of art in general. The romantic has on the one hand for its principle Ideality, the return of the Ideal to itself. On the other the Ideal has to re-appear in that which is external, and then withdraw itself into itself from the same. In architecture it is the sensuous, material mass in relations of Space, in which the most Ideal essence itself is, so far as that is possible, to be presented in visible shape. With a material such as this to deal with there is no other alternative possible than that of not suffering[Pg 104] this material to assert itself with power in its materiality, but to break up and dismember its masses in every direction, and to wrest from the same the appearance of its immediate coherence and self-subsistency. In this connection the ornamentation, more particularly that of the exterior, which has not to display the fact of enclosure as such, assumes the character of a net-work[108] carried in every direction, or rather interwoven over the surfaces; and we have no example of an architecture which, taking into account the enormous and heavily weighted masses of its stone and their secure coherence, nevertheless has preserved to such a complete extent the character of lightness and delicacy.

(γ) We have only further and thirdly to remark with reference to such embellishments that in addition to pointed arches, piers, and circles, the forms once more call to mind those of the real organic world. The fretwork and working out of the mass already carries a suggestion of this. Regarded in more detail, however, we actually find leaves, rosettes of flowers, and, in entwining work of an arabesque character, human figures and those of animals partly realistically and partly fantastically linked together; the romantic imagination, in short, even in architecture, displays its wealth of imaginative creation, and its power to unite in unexpected ways heterogeneous elements, although from another point of view, at any rate during the period of the purest type of Gothic architecture, even in the matter of ornament, as, for example, in the pointed arches of the windows, we may observe a decisive return to simple forms.


The last point on which I have a few observations to make is that of the principal types followed by romantic architecture in its course of development at different periods. I must, however, add the premise that in this work no attempt can be made to supply a history of this branch of the art.

[Pg 105]

(a) We must wholly distinguish from Gothic architecture, such as I have above described it, the so-called pre-Gothic, whose development originated in Roman architecture. The most ancient form of Christian churches is that of the basilica. These originated out of the public buildings of the Empire, huge oblong halls, with the frame-work of their roofing of wood, such as Constantine placed at the disposal of Christians. In buildings such as these there was a tribune, on which, during congregational religious services conducted by priests, there was singing and an address delivered, or merely reading aloud. The conception of the choir may have originated with this. In the same way Christian architecture accepted other of its forms such as the use of columns with circular arches, the rotunda and the modes of classical embellishment throughout, more particularly in the western Roman Empire, while in the eastern section it appears to have remained constant to this type until the time of Justinian. Even buildings erected by the Ostrogoths and Lombards in Italy retained essentially the fundamental Roman type. In the more recent architecture, however, of the Byzantine Empire several modifications made their appearance. A rotunda supported on four great piers forms the centre, to which different constructions were attached to meet the particular objects of Greek as distinct from the Roman ritual. We must not, however, confuse this genuine architecture of the Byzantine Empire with that which, in its general relation to architectural types, goes by the name of Byzantine, and which was employed in Italy, France, England, Germany, and other places up to the close of the twelfth century.

(b) In the thirteenth century was evolved the Gothic architecture in the distinctive form whose main characteristics I have above described in detail. It is nowadays denied that it is the work of Gothic architects, and the name given it is that of Deutsch or German architecture. We may, however, retain the more customary and ancient nomenclature. In other words we find in Spain very ancient indications of this type of construction, which suggest an association with historical circumstances under which Gothic kings, forced back into the mountains of Asturia and Galicia, retained their independence in such localities. Under such[Pg 106] conditions, no doubt, a close affiliation of Gothic and Arab architecture appears probable, yet both may be essentially distinguished. For the characteristic trait of Arab architecture in the Middle Ages is not the pointed arch, but the so-called horseshoe form. Moreover, these buildings, which are constructed for an entirely different ritual, exhibit an Oriental wealth and splendour, embellishments resembling plant-life and other forms of decoration, which, in an external form, mix together what is of Roman ancestry and that which belongs to the Middle Ages.

(c) On parallel lines with this evolution of religious architecture we find, too, the course of civil construction, which from its particular point of view imitates and modifies the character of ecclesiastical buildings. In an architecture directed to the uses of citizen life, however, art has less opportunity for display inasmuch as here objects of more restricted character, combined with a great variety of requirements, are more strict in the range of satisfaction presented, and do not suffer beauty to pass beyond mere decoration. Except for the general harmonious disposition of its forms and masses, art is in the main merely able to assert itself in the embellishment of façades, staircases, windows, doors, gables, towers, and the like, and has to do this throughout subject to the condition that the practical purpose of the building is what finally determines everything. In the Middle Ages it is pre-eminently the tower-like form of secure dwellings, which is the fundamental type of structure not merely for particular declivities and summits but also within the towns, where every palace, every private dwelling, as in Italy for example, received the form of a small fortification or keep. Walls, doors, towers, bridges and the like are executed as necessity dictates, and are decorated and embellished by art. Stability and security coupled with a grandiose type of splendour and a vital individuality of single forms and their connecting links constitute the determining factors, to enter into the detail of which would carry us beyond our present purpose. By way of supplement we may in conclusion briefly allude to the art of gardening, which does not only create under a wholly novel form an environment for spirit, we may call it a second exterior Nature, but draws the landscape of Nature[Pg 107] itself within the operation of its constructive purpose and treats the same architectonically as an environment of buildings. I will only take as an example of what I mean the famous and exceedingly imposing terrace of Sans-souci.

In our examination of the genuine art of gardening it is most important to distinguish the painter's point of view of it from that of the architect. All that pertains to mere park construction, for instance, is not truly architectonic, no building, that is, with freely disposed natural objects, but an artist's portrayal[109], which leaves the objects in their natural form and aims at imitating wide Nature in its freedom. Everything is here suggested in turn, which finds its glad place in a landscape—whether rocks and the huge rough masses which are their substance, or dales, woods, pastures, meandering brooks, broad streams with their animated banks, still lakes, wreathed round with trees, rushing waterfalls, and everything else of the kind, and is brought together with one total effect. In this way the gardening art of the Chinese embraces entire landscapes together with their islands, rivers, expanding views, and rockeries.

In a park of this kind, particularly in modern examples of such, everything is, on the one hand, intended to hold intact the freedom of Nature, while, on the other, it is artificially elaborated and constructed and conditioned by the locality where it is situated. This involves a contradiction which is never satisfactorily disposed of. In this respect, for the most part, it is impossible to instance an example of worse taste than such an attempt to make visible in all directions a studied purpose in that which is without purpose, and to force that which refuses to be compelled. Add to this the fact that here the genuine character of what is strictly a garden disappears, in so far, that is, as a garden is primarily adapted for strolling about in at pleasure and conversation within a certain place, which is no longer simply Nature, but a Nature remodelled by man to meet his desire for an environment created by himself. A huge park, on the contrary, particularly if it be garnished with Chinese temples, Turkish mosques, Swiss châlets, bridges, hermitages, and any other conceivable foreign importation, makes an independent claim on our interest as spectator.[Pg 108] It offers an independent pretension of being and signifying something. A charm of this sort disappears as soon as it arises; we do not care to see it twice, for an addition like this spreads before our sight no suggestion of infinity, nothing that possesses a really existent vitality[110], and is further only wearisome and tedious for conversation as we pass through it.

A garden, strictly speaking, should be only a cheerful environment and simply an environment, which will not pass for something independently valid and withdraw men from their own life and concerns. It is here that architecture, with its scientific lines, order, regularity, and symmetry, is in its proper place and co-ordinates natural objects themselves architectonically. The art of the Mongols on the other side of the great wall, in Tibet, the paradise of the Persians, already adapt themselves more closely to this type. They are no parks in the English sense, but halls with flowers, springs, courts, and palaces, which have in the form of a retreat in Nature been arranged on a splendid, grandiose, and extravagant scale for the needs of mankind and their convenience. But we find the architectural principle most thoroughly carried out in the French art of gardening, which, as a rule, borders upon great palaces, plants trees in the strictest conformity of line in long avenues, prunes them, builds up straight walls from trimmed fences, and in this way converts Nature herself into a broad dwelling beneath the open sky.

[34] Simply as a physical object.

[35] That of symbolic architecture.

[36] Als Momente eines Subjektes. That is as the constituent parts of the mind of one individual.

[37] Herod. I, c. 181.

[38] I, c. 98.

[39] I, p. 469.

[40] As in obelisks, Memnons, etc.

[41] II, c. 162.

[42] c. 106.

[43] Symb. (2nd ed.), p. 469. The solar city of Heliopolis.

[44] XXXVI, 14, and XXXVII, 8.

[45] Creutzer I, p. 778.

[46] "History of Architecture," vol. I, p. 69.

[47] Wandungen. I presume this refers to every kind of subdivision no less than boundary walls.

[48] Pracktgewänden. Presumably this refers to the isolated structures in which the columns are built—having flat surfaces like walls.

[49] Balken. The word would suggest perhaps that Hegel means here beams of any kind.

[50] II, c. 155.

[51] Her. II, c. 108.

[52] Herodotus dwells on this in the above passage.

[53] II, c. 148.

[54] Commentators of Herodotus point out that we have no direct evidence here of their number, which, comparing this with Strabo's account, is doubtful, and still more so the number of the chambers (οἱκήματα). Strabo says there were twenty-seven courts. The connection between the halls was not an architectural one but by means of the chambers and colonnades (παστάδες). See Blakesley's notes, vol. I, pp. 279-80. Neither from Herodotus nor Hegel is it very easy to form a clear notion of the building.

[55] "History of Ancient Building," vol. I, p. 75.

[56] XXXVI, 19.

[57] Ein Individuelles. Lit., An individual entity.

[58] The relative pronoun refers to the separation of both aspects.

[59] II, c. 126-7.

[60] Her. II, c. 125.

[61] Geschichte der Baukunst der Alten, I, S. 55.

[62] Symbolical significance.

[63] Wolff's and Buttmann's Mus., B. I, p. 536.

[64] Hegel uses the coined word osirirt I presume in this sense.

[65] Abstraction. Abstract in the sense of possessing no ideal complexity.

[66] Verständig. Comes under the categories of the Understanding.

[67] Lit., "Find the element that is congenial."

[68] That is, the principle of geometrical design and that of organic structure.

[69] That is the beauty and the ulterior aim of utility.

[70] Verständig. See note above.

[71] The sphere of mechanical gravity.

[72] I presume Aufwande means expense here; it would be more reasonable perhaps to say "waste of room," columns being only too often so much more expensive for their size.

[73] That is, the free treatment of line under scientific forms of abstraction rather than limited to specific modes of organic form in Nature.

[74] Der Verständigen Gesetzmässigkeit. The principle of scientific architecture.

[75] Immediate imitation, that is.

[76] Of classical art.

[77] Symbol des Innern.

[78] That is, apart from the classical type.

[79] That is, the scientific reason of abstract principle or rule.

[80] Weil beim Oblongum in der Gleichheit und Ungleichheit ist. That is, more pleasure is derived from contrast than mere similarity. He then qualifies or explains the general principle.

[81] Eurhythmie, that is, eurhythmy or a rhythmic movement between the several parts.

[82] I presume this is the meaning of die Theorie here. That is the purposeful motive of the architectural skeleton of the fabric—what explains it rationally.

[83] Schiebens. It is possible that Hegel uses the word in its primary sense of "shifting."

[84] The idea is slightly confused in the course of the sentence. It is not the necessity (des Bedürfnisses) to build a stable house which has to be held in position, etc., but the structure which that necessity forces men to construct in a certain way.

[85] Ihre eigenen Momente. "Its unique traits" is possibly adequate here.

[86] Hegel probably has in his mind when using the expression verständig bestimmte the close analogy between the self-exclusive concreteness of reason and the completeness of the circular figure.

[87] It is not quite clear what Hegel means by the Köpfen der Deckenbalken. The technical word that corresponds to Deckenbalken is "joists"; here, according to the words that follow, it would appear to mean either the last horizontal line of the architrave or the entire growth of the triglyph. As he uses the word Zwischenraümen after we appear to be driven on the latter alternative. The frieze, of course, was the entire space between cornice and architrave, including both triglyphs and metopes.

[88] Called femora. They were divided by two gutters or drills. The triglyph slightly projected and united perpendicularly cornice and architrave.

[89] Die Baukunst nach den Grunds. der Alten, Berlin, 1808, S. III.

[90] He means that the distinct functions are not assigned to those features of the building to which they are naturally or most essentially related.

[91] Hirt, Geschichte der Baukunst, III, S. 14-18, and II, S. 151.

[92] He refers to the columns placed round.

[93] Gesch. d. Bauk. I, S. 251.

[94] By sebstständig Hegel means apparently that there must be nothing in their external form that would divert attention from their essential character.

[95] Auf dem Unterbau. I presume this means generally that portion beneath the ground.

[96] I presume what is meant is that in one case the drills or grooves are hollowed in round shape and towards the base in square shape.

[97] What is precisely meant by the expression durch prismatische Einschnitte I frankly do not know. The expression Balken is evidently used to mark the association between the slabs of stone and beams or rafters.

[98] That is, the spaces between the lower part of the cornice and the uppermost slab of the entablature.

[99] The coussinet is that part of the Ionic capital between the abacus and quarter round, which serves to form the volute. There are four volutes or spiral scrolls in the Ionic capital.

[100] The mutule is the projecting block worked under the corona of the Doric cornice.

[101] Hirt, Gesch. der Baukunst, I, S. 254.

[102] This must, I think, refer to the main moulding of the architrave immediately resting on the column.

[103] Seneca, Ep. 90.

[104] Lit., "Is raised to infinitude."

[105] As it is, for example, by Greek capitals.

[106] Lit., "In its penetration into the most spiritual (innerste, ideal) particularity."

[107] Sich verselbstständigen. Hegel means that the main purpose of the exterior is expressed on the face of it.

[108] I presume the word Durchbrechen is here used in its specific architectural sense.

[109] Ein Malen.

[110] Keine in sich seyende Seele. I presume Hegel means that being an artificial fragment of Nature's landscape it lacks the infinite horizon and the living relation to the whole.

[Pg 109]




Over against the inorganic nature of Spirit, in the form we find given it by art in architecture, Spirit opposes itself directly in the sense that the work of art receives and displays spirituality as its actual content. The necessity of this advance we have already adverted to. It underlies the notion of Mind, which differentiates itself under the twofold aspect of subjective self-substantive[111] existence and pure objectivity. In this latter form of externality the ideal substance, it is true, makes its appearance by virtue of the architectonic treatment; such, however, does not amount to a complete transfusion of the objective material, or a conversion of it into an entirely adequate expression of Spirit (Mind), such as suffers it, and only it, to appear. Consequently art withdraws itself from the inorganic realm, which architecture, under its yoke of the laws of gravity, has striven to bring nearer as a means of Spirit's expression, to that of the Ideal, which forthwith then independently asserts itself in its more lofty truth without this intermingling with what is inorganic. It is during this, return passage of Spirit to its own native realm[112] from out of the world of masses and material substance that we come across sculpture.

The first stage, however, in this new sphere is, as yet, no[Pg 110] withdrawal of mind into the completely ideal world of subjective consciousness[113], so that the representation of what is of Spirit would require what is itself a purely ideal mode of expression. Rather Spirit grasps itself, in the first instance, only in so far as it is still expressed in bodily shape, and therein possesses its homogeneous and determinate existence. The art which accepts for its content this attitude to the possessions of Spirit will consequently have, as its due function, to clothe spiritual individuality as a manifestation under material conditions, and we may add, in what is actually material to the senses. For discourse and speech are also indications[114] which Spirit assumes under the form of externality, but they belong to a mode of objectivity, which, instead of possessing the attributes we attach to matter in its immediate and concrete sense, is merely as tone, motion, the undulation of an entire body and the rarified element, the atmosphere, a communication of such Spirit. What I call immediate corporeality, on the contrary, is the spatial mode of material substance such as stone, wood, metal, or clay, wholly spatial in all three dimensions. The form, however, which is adequate to Spirit is, as we have already seen, the unique bodily form which belongs to it; and it is through this that sculpture makes what is of Spirit actual in a whole which is subject to the spatial condition.

From this point of view sculpture stands on the same plane as architecture[115] to the extent, namely, that it gives form to the sensuous material as such, or what is material according its spatial condition as matter. It is, however, to a like extent distinguishable from architecture by virtue of the fact that it does not work up the inorganic substance, as the opposite of Spirit, into an environment created by Spirit and endowed with its purpose in forms to which a purpose is attached which is exterior to it; rather it sets before us spirituality itself in the bodily shape which,[Pg 111] from the standpoint of the notion, is adequate to Spirit and its individuality. In other words its efficient function and independent self-subsistency brings indivisibly before our sight both aspects, body and spirit, as one whole. The configuration of sculpture, therefore, breaks away from the specific function of architecture, which is to serve Spirit merely as an external Nature and environment, and assumes a really independent position. Despite, however, this separation the image of sculpture remains in essential relation to its environment. A statue or group, and yet more a relief, cannot be made without considering the place in which such a work of art is to be situated. One ought not first to complete a work of sculpture and then consider where it is likely to be put, but it should in the very conception of it be associated with a definite exterior world, and its spatial form and local position. In this respect sculpture retains a specific relation to the architectural aspect of space. For the primary object of statues is that of being temple images and being set up in the shrine of the sanctuary, just as in Christian churches painting supplies images for the altar, and Gothic architecture also attests a similar connection between works of sculpture and their local position. Temples and churches, however, are not the only place for statues, groups of statuary and reliefs. In a similar way halls, staircases, gardens, public squares, doors, single columns and arches of triumph receive an animation from the forms of sculpture; and every statue, even though placed in dissociation from such a wider environment, requires a pedestal of its own to mark its local position and base. And here we must conclude what we have to say as to the association of sculpture with or distinction from architecture.

If we further compare sculpture with the other arts we shall find that it is more especially poetry and painting which will engage our attention. Small statues no less than groups present to us the spiritual form in complete bodily shape, man, in short, as he exists. Sculpture therefore appears to possess the truest means of representing what is spiritual, whereas both painting and poetry have the contrary appearance of being more remote from Nature for the reason that painting makes use of the mere surface instead of the sensuous totality of the spatial condition, which a[Pg 112] human form and all other natural things actually assume; speech, too, to a still less degree, expresses the reality of body, being merely able to transmit ideas of the same by means of tone.

However, the truth of the matter is precisely the reverse of this. For although the image of sculpture appears no doubt to possess from the start the natural form as it stands, it is just this externality of body and nature reproduced in gross material which is not the nature of Spirit as such. If we regard the essential character of it its peculiar existence is that expressed by means of speech, acts, and affairs which develop its ideal or soul-life, and disclose its true existence.

In this respect sculpture has to yield the place of honour and pre-eminently when contrasted with poetry. No doubt clarity of outline[116] is superior in the plastic arts, in which the bodily presence is placed before our sight, but poetry too can describe the exterior figure of a man, such as his hair, forehead, cheeks, size, dress, pose and so forth, though of course not with the precision and sufficiency of sculpture. What it loses, however, in this respect is made up by the imagination, which, moreover, does not require for the mere conception of an object such a fixed and definite outline, and before everything else brings before us man in his action, with all his motives, developments of fortune and circumstance, with all his emotions, discourses, everything that discovers the soul-life or throws light on external incidents. This sculpture is either wholly unable to do, or only in a very incomplete way for the reason that it neither can present to us the individual soul[117] in its particular inward life and passion, nor as poetry a sequence of expressed results, but only offer us the general characteristics of individuality, so far as the body expresses such, and whatever happens together in one particular moment of time, and this too in a state of repose without the progressive action of real life. In these respects, too, it is inferior to painting. For the expression of spiritual life receives in painting an emphatically more defined accuracy and vitality by means of the colour given to the human face and its light and[Pg 113] shadow, not merely in the sense in which it satisfies generally the material substance of nature, but pre-eminently in the way it expresses physiognomy and the phenomena of emotion. It is possible, therefore, at first to entertain the view that sculpture requires merely for its greater perfection to associate the further advantages of painting with that itself possesses in the spatial totality, and to regard it as a mere act of caprice that it has made up its mind to dispense with the palette of the painter, or, as indicating a poverty and incapacity of its execution, that it entirely restricts its effort to one aspect of reality, namely, that of the material form, and withdraws its attention from that, much as the silhouette and the engraving may be set down as mere makeshifts[118]. We are, however, not warranted in thus applying such a term as "caprice" to genuine art. The form such as it is in the object of sculpture, remains in fact merely an abstract aspect of the concrete human bodily presence. Its presentments receive no variety from particularized colours and movements. This is, however, no defect due to accident, but a limitation of material and manner of presentment itself pre-supposed in the notion of art. For Art is a product of mind, and we may add of the more exalted and thoughtful mind. A work of this order claims as its object a content of this defined character, and consequently implies a mode of artistic realization which excludes other aspects. We have here a process similar to that observed in the different sciences where we find, for example, geometry exclusively adopts space as its object, jurisprudence law, philosophy the explication of the eternal Idea and its determinate existence and self-identity in the facts of experience, wherein each of the above mentioned sciences develops these objects by differentiation out of their differences, without one of them actually presenting to consciousness in its completeness that which we are accustomed in ordinary modes of thought to call concrete real existence.

Art then, as a creative informing activity of spiritual origination, proceeds step by step, and separates that which in the notion, in the nature of the thing, albeit not in its determinate existence, is separated. It retains such stages[Pg 114] consequently in their self-exclusive finity, in order to elaborate them according to their distinct peculiarities. And what contributes to this notional distinction and exclusive separation in the spatial material substance, which constitutes the element of the plastic art is corporeality in its aspect of spatial totality and its abstract configuration, in other words bodily form simply, and the more detailed particularization of the same relatively to the variety of its colorization. We find at this first stage the art of sculpture so placed relatively to the human form, which it treats as a stereo-metric body, merely, that is, according to form which it possesses in the three spatial dimensions. The work of art, whose process is in and through the sensuous material, must no doubt have an existence for another[119], with which forthwith the particularization commences. The primary art, however, which is concerned with the human bodily form as an expression of spiritual life, only proceeds so far in this "being for another" to the point of its first, or rather the still universal mode of Nature's own existence, that is to the point of mere visibility and existence in light generally, without uniting with the same in its presentment the relation of the latter to darkness, in which that which is visible is particularized in its own medium[120] and becomes colour. And the art occupying such a position is that of sculpture. For plastic art, which is unable as poetry to bring together the totality of the phenomenon in one equal element or world of idea, inevitably breaks up this totality[121].

For this reason we get on the one hand objectivity, which in so far as it is not the unique configuration of spirit, stands over against it as inorganic Nature. It is this relation of bare objectivity which converts architecture into a mere suggestive symbol, which does not possess its spiritual significance in itself. The point of extreme contrast to objectivity as such is subjectivity, that is the soul[122], emotional life in the entire range of all its particular movements, moods,[Pg 115] passions, exterior and interior agitations and actions. Between these two we are confronted with the spiritual individuality which no doubt has a definite structure, but which is not as yet deepened to the extent of the essential ideality of the individual soul; in which, instead of the full personal singularity, the substantive universality of Spirit and its objects and characteristic traits is the prevailing factor. In its generality it is not as yet absolutely withdrawn into its own exclusive domain to the point of purely spiritual unity; rather it comes before us as this midway point[123] still hailing from the objective side, that is the side of inorganic Nature, and consequently even carries as part of itself corporeality, as the particular form of existence appropriate to spirit, in the body that not merely is its own, but also discloses it. In this mode of externality, which no longer remains something simply opposed to what is ideal, spiritual individuality has now to be displayed, not, however, as living form, that is to say as corporeality continuously referred back to the point of unity implied in the singularity of spiritual life, but rather as form set forth and manifested in its external guise, into the mould of which Spirit has no doubt been poured, without, however, being from this outward bond of association, made visible in the sense that it is so when it withdraws into its own essential and ideal domain[124].

From the above observations the two points to which we have already drawn attention become more clear, namely, first, that sculpture makes use of the human form directly, which is the actual existence of spiritual life, instead of accepting a mode of expression which is symbolical with a view to promoting the spiritual import of modes of appearance that are merely suggestive. At the same time, secondly, it is content, as the manifestation of that mode of subjectivity which does not express emotion and the soul essentially unparticularized[125], with form and nothing more, where the focus of subjectivity is dissipated[126]. This is also the reason[Pg 116] why sculpture does not on the one hand present Spirit in action, in a series of movements, which both possess and testify to one aim nor in undertakings or exploits, wherein a certain character is made visible, but rather as persisting throughout in one objective way, and for this reason pre-eminently in the repose of form, the movement and grouping of which is merely a first and obvious commencement of action, not, however, in any sense a complete presentment of the subjective life as agitated by all the conflicts that assail it whether within or without, or as its development is variously affected in contact with the external world. Consequently what we also miss in the figures of sculpture is precisely this revealed focus of the subjective life, the concentrated expression of soul as soul, namely, the glance of the eye, a fact upon which we shall have something further to say later. We miss it because such a figure presents to our sight Spirit embedded in corporeality, and Spirit, too, which has to show itself visible in the entire form. From another point of view an individuality, which is not as yet essentially separated into its component parts, that is, the object of sculpture, does not as yet require the painter's charm of colour as means to display it, a charm which is as capable of making visible, through the fine gradations and variety of its nuances, the entire wealth of particular traits of character, the absolute manifestation of spiritual presence, its ideal significance[127], as by means of the vital flash of the eye it will concentrate in a point all the vigour of the soul. Sculpture must not, in other words, accept a material which is not rendered necessary by its fundamental point of view. It only makes use of the spatial qualities of the human figure, not the colouring which depicts it. The figure of sculpture is in general of one colour, hewn from white not vari-coloured marble. And in the same way metals are used as the material of sculpture, this primitive substance, self-identical, essentially undifferentiated, a light in fluxion, if we may so express it, without the contrast and harmony of different colours[128]. The Greeks are indebted to their unrivalled artistic insight[129][Pg 117] for having grasped and firmly retained this point of view. No doubt we find, too, in Greek sculpture, to which we must for the main part confine ourselves, examples of coloured statuary; we must, however, take care in this respect to distinguish both the beginning and end of this art from that which is created at its culminating point.

In the same way we must discount that which is admitted by art in deference to traditional religion. We have already found it to be true in the classical type of art that it does not forthwith and immediately set forth the Ideal, in which its function is to discover its fundamental lines of definition, but in the first instance removes much that is inconsonant with it and foreign; it is the same case precisely with sculpture. It is forced to pass through many preliminary stages before it arrives at its perfection; and this initial process differs very considerably from its supreme attainment. The most ancient works of sculpture are of painted wood, as, for example, Egyptian idols; we find similar productions among the Greeks. We must, however, exclude such examples from genuine sculpture when the main point is to establish its fundamental notion. We are therefore in no way concerned to deny that there are many examples at hand of painted statues. It is, however, also a fact that the purer art-taste became, the more strongly "sculpture withdrew itself from a brilliancy of colour that was not really congenial, and with wise deliberation utilized, on the contrary, light and shadow in order to secure for the beholder's eye a greater softness, repose, clarity, and agreeableness[130]." As against the uniform colour of the bare marble we may no doubt not merely instance the numerous statues of bronze, but also in still stronger opposition the greatest and most excellent works, which, as in the case of the Zeus of Pheidias, were artificially coloured. But we are not here discussing absence of colour in such an extreme abstract sense. Moreover, ivory and gold are not primarily the use of colour as the painter employs it; and generally we may add that the various works of a definite art do not ever in fact retain fixedly their fundamental notion in so abstract and unyielding a way, inasmuch as they come into contact with the conditions of[Pg 118] life subject to aims of all kinds; they are placed in different environments, and are thereby associated with circumstances of an external kind, which inevitably modify their real and essential type. In this way the images of sculpture are not unfrequently executed in rich material such as gold and ivory. They are placed on magnificent chairs or stand on pedestals which display all the extravagance and luxuriousness of art, or receive costly decorations, in order that the nation, when face to face with such splendid works, may likewise enjoy the sense of its power and wealth. And sculpture in particular, for the reason that it is essentially, taken by itself, a more abstract art, does not on all occasions hold fast to such exclusiveness, but, on the one hand, introduces incidentally much that is of a traditional, scholastic, or local character as a contribution from its history, while, on the other, it ministers to vital popular necessities. Active humanity demands for its diversion variety, and seeks in diverse directions for a stimulus to its vision and imagination. We may take as an analogous case the reading aloud of Greek tragedies, which also brings before us the work of art under its more abstract form. In the wider field of external existence we have still to add, to make a public performance, living actors, costume, stage scenery, dancing, and music. And in like manner, too, the sculptured figure is unable to dispense with much that is supplementary on its own stage of reality. We are, however, only concerned here with the genuine work of sculpture as such; external aspects such as those above adverted to must not be permitted to prevent us bringing before the mind the notion of our subject-matter in its most ideal and exclusive sense of definition.

Proceeding now to the more definite heads of division in this section we may observe that sculpture constitutes the very centre of the classical type of art to such a degree that we are unable to accept the symbolical, classical and romantic types as distinctions which affect throughout and form the basis of our division. Sculpture is the genuine art of the classical Ideal simply. It is quite true that sculpture has also its stages in which it is in the grasp of the symbolical type, as in Egypt for example. But these are rather preliminary stages of its historical evolution, no genuine distinctions which essentially affect the art of sculpture when[Pg 119] notionally considered, in so far, that is, as these exceptional examples, in the manner of their execution and the use that is made of them, rather belong to architecture than are strictly within the aim and purpose of sculpture. In a similar way, when we find the romantic type thereby expressed, sculpture passes beyond its rightful sphere, and only receives with the qualified imitation of Greek sculpture its exclusively plastic type. We must therefore look about us for a principle of division of another character.

In agreement with what we have just stated we shall find that it is from the particular way in which the classical Ideal means of sculpture acquires a form of reality that most fully expresses it that the focus of our present inquiry is derived. Before, however, we are in a position to make an advance in this evolution of the ideal figure of sculpture we must by way of introduction demonstrate what kind of content and form are pertinent to the point of view of sculpture regarded as a specific art, and the course it follows by virtue of both until the point is reached where the classical Ideal is fully unfolded in the human form permeated by spiritual life, and in its shape as subject to spatial condition. From another point of view the classical Ideal stands, and falls with an individuality which is unquestionably substantive, but also to an equal degree essentially particularized, so that sculpture does not accept for its content the Ideal of the human form in its generality, but the Ideal as specifically defined; and, by virtue of this fact, it is variously displayed under forms distinct from each other. Such distinctions partly originate in the conception and representation simply, in part are due to the material in which such is realized, and which further, according to the way it affects execution, introduces points of severation on its own account, to both of which finally, as the last ground of difference, the various stages are related in the historical development of sculpture.

Having made these observations we will indicate the course of our inquiry as follows.

In the first place we have merely to deal with the general determinants of the essential content and form, such as are deducible from the notion of sculpture.

Secondly, as a further step, we have to differentiate more[Pg 120] closely the nature of the classical Ideal, in so far as it attains a determinate existence in its most artistic form.

Thirdly, and finally, we shall find that sculpture avails itself of various types of presentation and material, and expands to a world of productions, in which, either under one aspect or another, the symbolical or romantic types also definitely assert themselves, albeit it is the classical which constitutes the true point of centre between them in plastic art[131].

[Pg 121]



Sculpture, to put the matter in general terms, conceives the astounding project of making Spirit imagine itself in an exclusively material medium, and so shape this external medium that it is presented to itself in such and recognizes the presentment to be the objective form adequate to its ideal substance.

In this respect our inquiry will take the following directions.

First, we have the question what kind of spiritual life is capable of being reproduced in this material of a form entirely sensuous and spatial.

Secondly, we have to ask in what manner the forms of the spatial condition have to be modified in order to permit us a recognition of the spiritual in the bodily shape of beauty.

What we have generally to consider here is the unity between the ordo rerum extensarum and that of the ordo rerum idearum, the primal fair union of soul and body, in so far as spiritual ideality is expressed by sculpture exclusively in its bodily existence.

This union, thirdly, corresponds to what we have already found to be the Ideal of the classical type of art; and for this reason the plastic forms of sculpture are nothing less than the very art itself of the classical Ideal.


The elementary medium, in which sculpture realizes its creations is, as we have seen, the elementary, still universal material subject to spatial condition, in which no further particularization can be utilized for an artistic purpose than the[Pg 122] universal spatial dimensions, and the more detailed[132] spatial forms which are compatible with these dimensions under their most beautiful configuration. Now what most exceptionally corresponds as content to this more abstract aspect of the sensuous material is the objectivity of Spirit which reposes on its own resources, in so far, that is, as Spirit has neither differentiated itself in contradistinction to its universal substance, nor to its determinate existence in its bodily presence, and consequently is not as yet withdrawn as independent self-subsistency into its own subjective world. There are two points we would draw attention to here.

(a) Spirit as Spirit[133] is no doubt always subjectivity, that is ideal knowledge of the Self, the Ego. This Ego can, however, separate itself from everything that constitutes, whether in knowledge, volition, conception, feeling, action, or achievement, the universal and eternal content of Spirit, and can concentrate its hold on that aspect of individual experience which is unique and contingent. It is then subjectivity as such which we have before us, which has let go the truly objective content of Spirit, and is self-related formally, and without content. In the case of self-satisfaction, for example, I can no doubt view myself from a certain standpoint in an entirely objective way and remain satisfied with myself on account of moral action. I do, however, as thus self-satisfied, already withdraw myself from the content of such action. I separate myself as a distinct person, as this particular Ego, from the universality of Spirit, in order to compare myself with it. The sense of unison of myself with myself through this comparison produces this self-satisfaction, in which this determinate Ego, as this core of unity, rejoices in itself. No doubt this personal Ego is involved in all that a man knows, wills, or carries out; but it makes an immense difference whether, in-dealing with knowledge and action, the matter of concern is the man's own unique Ego, or that in which the essential content of consciousness consists; whether, in other words, a man sinks[Pg 123] himself and his self-identity in this content, or lives in the unbroken seclusion of his subjective personality.

(α) In this exaltation over what is substantive[134] the subjective life passes into the abstract and disrupt world of personal inclination, the caprice and contingency of emotions and impulses, owing to which, in the changes to which it is subject in particular acts and undertakings, it grows dependent upon particular circumstances as they happen to arise, and is unable generally to dispense with this association with something else. In such a condition of dependence the individual life is nothing but finite subjectivity as contrasted with a real spirituality. And if this personal state essentially persists through the volition and knowledge which characterizes it in this contradiction of its conscious life, it can only further become involved—to put on one side the mere emptiness of its imaginings and self-conceits—in the deformity of character and its evil passions, in crime and moral offence, in malice, cruelty, obstinacy, envy, pride, insolence, and every other kind of the reverse side of human nature and its insubstantial finiteness.

(β) This province of the subjective life must be excluded in its entirety and without hesitation from the content of sculpture. The art is exclusively co-extensive with the objectivity of Spirit. And by the term objectivity we mean in this connection what is substantive, genuine, not transitory, the essential nature of Spirit, apart from its involvement in that which is accidental and evanescent, for which the individual person is responsible simply in his unmediated state of self-relation.

(γ) Spirit, however, even in its truly objective sense, can only realize itself as Spirit when associated with explicit self-identity. Spirit is only Spirit as self-consciousness[135]. The position, however, of this aspect of individual consciousness in the spiritual content of sculpture is of such a character that it is not independently expressed, but displays itself as throughout interfused with this substantive content, and not formally reflected back upon itself apart from it. We may consequently affirm that though such a mode of objectivity[Pg 124] possesses a type of self-subsistency, yet it is a self-knowledge and volition which is not released from the content it fulfils, but forms an inseparable unity with it.

The presentment of Spirit in this complete and independent seclusion of what is essentially substantive and true, this unperturbed and unparticularized being of Spirit, is that which we name divinity in its contrast to finitude, which is the process of disruption into contingent existence, a world that is broken into complex forms and varied movement. From this point of view the function of sculpture is to present the Divine simply in its infinite repose and sublimity, timeless, destitute of motion, entirely without subjective personality in the strict sense and the conflict of action or situation. And in proceeding to the more detailed definition of our humanity in shape and character, it must, nevertheless, exclusively rivet its attention on what is unalterable and permanent, in other words what is truly substantive in its characterization, and merely select such aspects for its content, passing over what it finds there of an accidental or evanescent nature; and it must do so for the reason that the objectivity which it presents does not rightly include a differentiation of this fluctuating and fleeting kind, and one which comes into being by virtue of a subjective consciousness whose conception of itself is that of pure insulation. In a biography, for instance, which gives an account of the motley incidents, events, and exploits of some individual, we find as a rule the course of varied developments and fortuities finally closed by a character sketch which summarizes the entire breadth of detail in a few general qualities such as goodness, honest dealing, courage, exceptional intelligence, and so forth. Characteristics such as these we may term the permanent features of a personality; the remaining peculiarities it possesses are merely accidental features in the impersonation. It is just this stable aspect of life which it is the part of sculpture to present as the unique being and determinate substance of individuality. Yet we must not suppose that it creates allegories out of such general qualities. It rather builds up true individuals, which it conceives and informs as essentially complete and enclosed within their objective spiritual presence, in their self-subsistent repose, delivered thereby from all antagonism[Pg 125] as against external objects. In the presentment of an individuality of this character by sculpture what is truly substantive is throughout the essential foundation, and neither purely subjective self-knowledge and emotion, nor a superficial and mutable singularity[136] must be permitted in any way to be predominant, but what is eternal in the god-like and our humanity should, divested of all the caprice and contingency of the particular self[137], be set before our eyes in its unimpaired clarity.

(b) The further point we would draw attention to consists in this, that the content of sculpture, for the reason that its material requires an external presentment in the complete form of the three spatial dimensions, is also unable to be a spiritual content as such, that is, the ideality self-enclosed within and absorbed into itself, but rather in the sense that it is only explicit in its opposed factor, in other words, the bodily form. The negation of what is external is already implied in the ideal subjective consciousness, and can therefore have no place here, where what is divine and human is accepted as content with exclusive reference to its objective characteristics. And it is only this self-absorbed objective aspect, which does not comprise ideal subjectivity in the strict sense[138], that gives free play to an externality conditioned in all its three dimensions, and is capable of being associated with such a spatial totality. For these reasons it is incumbent on sculpture that it only accept out of the objective content of Spirit that which admits of the fullest expression in external and bodily shape; if it do otherwise it simply selects a content which its specific material is unable to assimilate or to unite with an adequate mode of exposition.

[Pg 126]


We must now inquire into the nature of the bodily forms which are adapted to give an impression of a content of this kind.

Just as in classical architecture the dwelling-house is the anatomical skeleton framework which art has to inform with its accretions, in like manner sculpture, on its part, discovers the human form as the fundamental type for its figures. Whereas, however, the house is already a piece of human workmanship, though not as yet elaborated artistically, the structure of the human form, on the contrary, appears as a product of Nature unaffected by man. The fundamental type of sculpture is consequently given to it, that is, does not hail from human inventiveness. The expression, however, that the human form is a part of Nature is a very indefinite one, which we must submit to closer analysis.

In Nature it is the Idea, which is given there, as we have already found when discussing natural beauty, its primary and immediate mode of existence, receiving in animal life and its complete organic structure the natural existence adequate to its notion. The organization of the animal frame is therefore a birth of the notion in its essential totality, which exists in this corporeal mode of being as soul, yet, as the principle of merely animal life, modifies the animal frame in the most varied classifications, albeit too every specific type continues to be subject to the general notion[139]. The fact that notion and bodily form, or more accurately, soul and body, correspond to one another—to fully understand this is the problem of natural philosophy. We should have to demonstrate that the different systems of the animal frame in their ideal[140] structure and conformation no less than their association, and the more definite organs in which the bodily existence is differentiated are in general accord with the phasal steps of the notion's movement, so that it becomes clear, to what extent we have here presented to us as real only the particular aspects of the soul-life which[Pg 127] are necessary. To develop this exposition, however, does not lie within the scope of the present inquiry.

The human form is not, however, as the animal form, merely the corporeal framework of the soul, but of Spirit. In other words, spirit and soul are essentially to be distinguished. For the soul is merely this ideal and simple unity of self-subsistence attaching to the body in its corporeal aspect[141], whereas Spirit is the independent selfness of conscious and self-conscious life together with all the emotions, ideas, and aims of such a conscious existence. In contemplating the immense difference which separates merely animal life from spiritual consciousness, it may appear strange that the bodily frame attaching to the latter, the human body, is nevertheless so clearly homogeneous with that of animal life. It will tend, however, to decrease such an astonishment if we recall to mind the definition, which Spirit itself has authorized us to make in accordance with its own notion, that it is a mode of life and essentially therefore itself also a living soul and natural existence. As such living soul the life of conscious spirit, by virtue of the same notion that is inherent in the animal soul, is entitled to accept a body, which fundamentally in its general lines runs parallel to the organic structure of animal life. However superior to mere animal life Spirit may be it is evolved through[142] a corporeal frame whose visible appearance receives an identical articulation and principle of life with that which the notion of animal life in general underlies. Inasmuch as, however, and furthermore Spirit is not merely the Idea as determinate existence, that is, the Idea as Nature and animal life, but the Idea which secures independence in its own free medium of ideality as Idea, the spiritual principle elaborates for itself its own specific mode of objectivity over and beyond that of animal life, simply, in other words, science, the reality of which is exclusively that of thought itself. Apart from thought, however, and its philosophical and systematized activity, Spirit is involved within an abounding life of feeling, inclination, idea, imagination, and so forth, which is fixed in a more direct or less[Pg 128] immediate association with its vital being[143] and bodily frame, and consequently possesses a reality in the human body. In this reality, which is part of its own substance, Spirit asserts itself also as a principle of life, shines into it, transpierces it, and is made manifest to others by means of it. Consequently, in so far as the human body remains no purely natural existence, but has asserted itself also in its configuration and structure as the natural and sensuous existence of Spirit, it is, nevertheless, regarded as the expression of an ideality more exalted than that compatible with the purely animal body to be distinguished from it, despite the fact that the human body in its broad lines is in harmony with it. For this reason, however, that Spirit is itself soul and life, that is, an animal body, it is and can only be modifications, which the indwelling Spirit of one living body attaches to this corporeal form. As a manifestation of Spirit consequently the human shape is distinct from the animal by virtue of these modifications, albeit the distinctions of the human organism from the animal are as much the result of the unconscious creation of spiritual activities, as the soul of the animal kingdom is the informing though unconscious activity of the body that belongs to it.

We have thus reached the precise point of our present departure. In other words, the human body is present to the artist as Spirit's expression. What is more, he discovers it as such not merely in a general way, but also in particular characteristics it is pre-supposed to be the type which, in its form, its specific traits, its position and general habit, reflects the ideality of Spirit.

We shall find it a difficult matter to fix in clear terms of thought the precise nature of the association between spirit and body in their relation respectively to feeling, passion, and other spiritual conditions. It has, no doubt, been attempted to develop the same scientifically both from the pathognomical[144] point of view and the physiognomical. Such attempts have hitherto not met with much success. For ourselves the science of physiognomy can only be of importance[Pg 129] in so far as that of pathognomy is exclusively concerned with the mode under which definite feelings and passions are physically located in particular organs. It has been stated, for example, that the seat of anger is in the gall, of courage in the blood. Such statements, we may remark incidentally, are erroneous in their manner of expression. For even assuming the activity of particular organs corresponds to specific passions, we cannot say that anger, for instance, has its local position in the gall bladder, but, in so far as anger is corporeally related, the gall is pre-eminently that in which its active appearance asserts itself. In our present inquiry this pathognomical aspect does not, as already stated, concern us, because sculpture has merely to deal with that which passes over from the ideal side of Spirit into the external aspect of form permitting Spirit thus to be visible in the physical environment. The sympathetic interaction between the internal organism and the feeling soul is no object of sculpture; indeed, we may add, it is unable to accept much which appears on the external surface itself, such as the tremble of the hand and the entire body in an outburst of anger, the movement of the lips, and others of like nature.

With regard to physiognomical science I will limit myself to this observation. If the work of sculpture, which has as its fundamental basis the human form, has to exhibit the way in which the bodily presence as such manifests not only the divine and human aspect of Spirit in its broadest and most substantive features, but also the particular character of a definite individuality in this divine presence, we are no doubt compelled to discuss what parts, traits, and conformations of the body are fully accordant with any specific mode of ideality. We are indeed forced upon such an inquiry by the sculpture of antiquity, which we must as a matter of fact admit includes the expression of individual god-like characters with that of divinity generally. Such an admission does not, however, amount to an assertion that the association of spiritual expression with bodily form is merely a matter of accident and caprice rather than the creation of a figure of self-subsistent actuality. In this connection every organ must, in a general way, be looked at from two points of view, as a mode of expression that possesses its physical[Pg 130] side no less than its spiritual. We need hardly caution our readers that the method of Gall in conducting such an inquiry is inadmissible. This writer reduces Spirit to what is little better than a Calvary.

(a) The advance of sculpture, in respect to the content which its function is to declare, is limited to the investigation how far the substantive and at the same time individual condition of spiritual life is made vital in bodily form, receiving therein determinate existence and form. In other words, through the content adequate to genuine sculpture the contingent individualization of the external appearance is from one point of view excluded, and this applies both to the spiritual and physical aspects of the presentment. Only that which persists, and is universal and according to rule in the human form is the object of a work of sculpture. And this is so albeit we have the additional necessity to individualize the universal in such a way that not only the abstract law but an individual form, which is brought into the closest fusion with it, is placed before our eyes.

(b) From another point of view it is necessary that sculpture, as we have seen, be kept unaffected by purely contingent personal life[145], and all expression of such in the independent ideal mode under which it asserts itself. For this reason an artist, in dealing with physiognomical characteristics, is not entitled to move in the direction of individual manner[146]. For a facial manner is simply just this appearance on the surface of an individual idiosyncrasy and some particular aspect of emotion, idea, and volition. A man by his chance expressions of countenance expresses the feelings he has as some particular person, whether it be in his exclusive relation to his own life, or in his self-relation to exterior objects, or other persons. One sees, for example, on the street, more particularly in little towns, in many, or rather the majority of men, that they are exclusively preoccupied, in their demeanour and expression of face, with themselves, their dress and attire, in general terms, that is, their purely[Pg 131] personal particularity, or, at least, matters of momentary importance, and any unforeseen or accidental features thus presented. Countenances which express pride, envy, self-satisfaction, depreciation, and so forth, are of this nature. Moreover, the feeling and contrast of substantive being with my personal idiosyncrasy may be responsible for such alterations of expression. Humility, defiance, threats, fear, are expressed in this way. In a felt contrast of this kind we find already a separation between the individual in the subjective sense and the universal asserted. Reflection on what is truly substantive continually leans in the direction of merely personal considerations, so that it is the individual rather than the substantive character which is predominant in the content. The form, however, which remains severely true to the principle of sculpture ought neither to express this severation nor the predominance of the personal aspect above adverted to.

In addition to definite expressions of countenance[147] physiognomy presents us with much that merely passes momentarily across the features and indicates the human mood. A sudden smile, an instantaneous outburst of anger, a quickly repressed expression of scorn, are a few of many examples. In particular, the mouth and eyes possess most mobility and resource in seizing and making apparent every shifting mood of soul-life. Changes of this character, which are compatible with the art of painting, the sculptor must exclude. Sculpture must rather concentrate its attention on the permanent traits of spiritual expression, and retain and disclose such in the posture and configuration of the body no less than in the face.

(c) The task of sculpture, then, essentially consists in this, that it implants that which is of substantive spiritual import in that form of individuality which is not yet essentially particularized in the narrow subjective sense within the figure of a man, and contributes to the same such a harmony, that it is only that which is universal and permanent in the bodily shapes correspondent with the life of Spirit which is made to appear therein, while that which[Pg 132] is accidental or mutable is brushed aside, albeit a certain mode of individuality is not absent from its forms.

An accord of this complete nature between what is ideal and what is external, the goal of sculpture, in short, offers us a point of transition to the third point which we have still to discuss.


The conclusion that most immediately follows upon the above observations is this, that sculpture in a way, and to an extent unrivalled by any other art, remains constant to the Ideal[148]. In other words, from one point of view it is free of the symbolical type both by virtue of the translucency of a content, which clearly grasps itself as Spirit, and on account of the fact that it is able to disclose such a content with absolute mastery. And so, too, from another it refuses as yet to enter into the subjective aspect of the personal life, to which the external form is indifferent. Consequently it forms the focus of classical art. No doubt both the symbolical and romantic types of architecture and painting were shown to be adapted to classical ideality; but the Ideal, in its genuine sphere, is not the supreme principle of these types of art, inasmuch as they do not, as is the case with sculpture, take for their object self-subsistent individuality, character, that is, throughout objective, in other words, the beauty that is both free and inevitable[149]. The configuration of sculpture must, however, entirely proceed from the pure spiritual energy of an imagination and thought that denudes its content of all the haphazard features of personal life and bodily presence; it must have no leanings for idiosyncrasies, or any place for the mere emotion, desire, and variety of accidental impulse and pleasantry[150]. What the artist has at his disposal for his most elevated creations is simply, as we have seen, the bodily presentment of Spirit in what is exclusively the general configuration of the organic structure of the human form. His invention is therefore restricted to promoting on the broadest lines the[Pg 133] harmony between what is ideal and what is external, and partly to making, in however an inobtrusive way, the individuality of the presentment accommodate itself to and interfuse with the truly substantive character of his design[151]. Sculpture must give form, just as the gods create in their own sphere according to eternal ideas, within what is in other respects the world of reality, but exclude as rejected residue all licence and mere selfness from its creations. Theologians make a distinction between the acts of God and all that man in his folly and capriciousness accomplishes. The plastic Ideal is, however, exalted above such questions. It stands at the very centre of this blessedness and free necessity for which neither the abstraction of the universal nor the caprice of the particular are valid or significant.

This insight into the consummate plastic union of the divine and human was pre-eminently native to Greece. We fail to grasp Greece at her heart and centre in her poets and orators, historians and philosophers, unless, as the key to our problem, we are already possessed of an insight into the Ideal of sculpture, and can contemplate from the standpoint of plastic art both the figures of her epic and dramatic heroes and her actual statesmen and philosophers. For characters in her practical life, no less than poets and thinkers, possessed also in the palmy days of Greece, this plastic, universal, and yet individual character, stamped with one mint, whether we look at its external or more personal features. They stand up big and free, a self-subsistent growth, on the basis of their essentially substantive individuality; a growth of their own making, built up into that which they ultimately became and intended to be. In particular the period of Pericles was rich in such characters. Pericles himself was one of them. We may add Pheidias, Plato, and pre-eminently Sophocles. So, too, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Socrates, everyone with his own type, not one of them impairing the quality of the rest; all are out-and-out artistic natures, ideal artists in the work of self-creation,[Pg 134] personalities of one mould, works of art, which stand before us like figures of immortal gods, in whom we can detect no taint of Time and mortality. We may find a similar plastic subsistency in the artistic perfections of the bodily frames of the victors at the Olympic games; nay, even in the apparition of Phryne[152] herself, who, as the fairest woman, came from the sea naked before all the world.

[Pg 135]


Now that we pass on to consider the really ideal style of sculpture we must once again recall the fact that the perfected type necessarily presupposes the imperfect as its predecessor; and it does so not merely in relation to its technique, which, in the first instance, does not concern us here, but in respect to the general notion, in other words the mode of its conception and the particular way in which it sets forth the same ideally. We have in general terms called the symbolical type that of inquiry; consequently pure sculpture, too, has for its presupposition a certain stage of the symbolical type, and by this we do not merely mean a stage of the symbolic form as generally conceived, in other words of architecture, but a form of sculpture which is itself characterized by the symbolical principle. We shall find an opportunity of supporting this assertion with the example of Egyptian sculpture in the third chapter.

We may in this place and from the point of view of the Ideal generally, and for the present wholly in an abstract and formal manner, assume that which we term symbolical in a specific art is its incompleteness; as, for example, we may so apply this term to an attempt of children to draw the human figure, or mould it from wax and clay. What they execute is to this extent merely a symbol, as it only suggests the living reality it purports to exhibit, remaining, however, wholly unfaithful to the actual object and its significance. Art is consequently in the first instance hieroglyphical, no mere accidental and capricious mark, but a haphazard delineation of an object for the imagination. For this purpose a badly drawn figure suffices if it recalls that object it is intended to suggest. In a similar way piety is content with[Pg 136] badly executed images, and still worships Christ, the Virgin, and any other saint in the most bungling counterfeit, although such images may merely derive such individualization purely from particular attributes conveyed by such means as a lantern or a mill-stone. For piety refuses to be reminded of aught save the object; the soul adds all else thereto, which will be filled up with an image of the object, however untrue the counterfeit may be. It is not the living expression of the present which is required; it is not that which is presented which is intended to enkindle us by itself. Rather a work of art of this kind already brings satisfaction if it excites the general concept of the objects by virtue of its images, however insufficient they be. A concept of this kind, however, already abstracts from the given content. I can readily imagine some known thing, such as a house, a tree, a man; but even in such a case, where the reference is to something quite determinate, the concept merely includes wholly general traits, and is in fact only a true concept[153] in so far as it has effaced from the concrete presentment the wholly immediate singularity of the objects and simplified the same. If the imaged concept, which the work of art has to arouse in us, is that of the divine nature, and if this has to receive recognition from an entire people, this object is especially attainable when no alteration is allowed in the mode of presentation. For this reason art is on the one hand conventional, and on the other scholastic[154]; and this is so not merely in the case of the more ancient Egyptians, but also in that of more ancient Greek and Christian art. The artist in such case was bound to restrict himself to definite forms and to repeat their type.

The crucial point of transition, where fine art wakes from its sleep, must consequently be sought there, where at last the artist is creative by virtue of his own free conception, where the flash of genius strikes into the material presented, and communicates freshness and vitality to the presentment. Then for the first time the atmosphere of mind[155] enfolds the work of art, which is no longer restricted to merely calling[Pg 137] up in a general way some idea before the mind, and recalling to it some deeper significance which the spectator already is essentially possessed of, but which proceeds to make visible this significance as throughout made vitally present in some individualized creation, and which consequently neither makes no further advance beyond the purely superficial generality of its forms, nor binds itself on the other hand, in respect to the detail of its delineation, to the characteristics of all that common reality offers it.

In the rise of ideal sculpture we presuppose perforce a complete passage to such a sphere of creation. In establishing the facts of this appearance we may emphasize the following points of view.

First, we have to address ourselves to the general character of the ideal form in its contrast to the stages previously discussed.

Secondly, we shall have to adduce specific aspects of it, the importance of which is most obvious, such as the way in which facial characteristics, drapery, and pose are modelled or treated.

Thirdly, we have to enforce the position that the ideal figure is not merely a general type of beauty in the formal sense of type, but includes, by virtue of its principle of individuality, which belongs to the really living Ideal, essentially, too, the aspect of differentiation and specific definition within its own sphere, and by this means the province of sculpture is expanded in a cycle of particularized images of gods and heroes.


We have already examined at length what the general principle of the classical ideal is. Our present inquiry is therefore limited to the particular mode under which this principle is realized through the medium of sculpture in the human form. In this connection the lines of difference between the human physiognomy, expressive as it is of spiritual life and the general build of the animal organism, which is unable to pass beyond the mere expression of natural life in[Pg 138] its unbroken association with natural wants and an organism that is exclusively adapted to their satisfaction, will supply us with a standard of comparison which carries us considerably further. Yet even such a standard is still somewhat indefinite for the reason that the human form alone neither is as bodily form, or as an expression of Spirit, wholly and as we find it first of ideal type. On the contrary we may observe with more closeness from the fine masterpieces of Greek sculpture what the ideal of sculpture in the spiritually fine expression of its creations has to bring before us. It was pre-eminently Winckelmann who, with this intimate knowledge of and devotion for art of this kind, and by means of his receptive enthusiasm, no less than his intelligence and critical faculty, made an end of indefinite statements over the Ideal of Greek beauty by leaving the characterization of detail in the form at once distinct and precise, an endeavour which by itself is full of instruction. No doubt the results he obtained supply abundant opportunity for further criticism, exceptions, and the like; but we should be careful, before attempting to criticize details and errors in his work, not to obscure the main result which he established. However far aesthetic science may extend its borders that at least must be pre-supposed as essential. Assuming this, it cannot, however, be denied that since Winckelmann's death our knowledge of the antique has not only been essentially enlarged in the number of examples submitted to criticism, but also has been placed on a securer basis in its relation to the style of these works and the true appreciation of their beauty.

Winckelmann, no doubt, passed under review a great number of Egyptian and Greek statues; we have, however, added in more recent times the closer acquaintance of the Aeginetan sculptures, no less than those masterworks which in part are ascribed to Pheidias and in part we must recognize as creations of his age and under his supervision. In a word we have secured a more intimate knowledge of a number of sculptures, whether single statues or reliefs, which, in their relation to the severity of the ideal style, are referable to the age in which Greek art was at its fullest bloom. For these astonishing monuments of Greek sculpture, as is well known, we are indebted to the efforts of[Pg 139] Lord Elgin, who, as English ambassador to Turkey, had a number of statues and reliefs of the greatest beauty taken from the Parthenon at Athens and other towns to England. People have blamed such acquisitions and called them temple robbery. Lord Elgin has, however, as a matter of fact, really rescued these works of art for Europe and preserved them from complete destruction. Such an enterprise deserves its true recognition. Moreover, it is due to this circumstance that the interest of all connoisseurs and friends of art have been directed to an epoch and a mode of presentation, which, in the exceptionally consistent severity of its style, constitutes the true greatness and height of the Ideal. What the general verdict has highly estimated in the works of this epoch is not the charm and grace of form and pose, not the elegance of expression which already, as in the times subsequent to Pheidias, makes an external appeal and distinctly aims at pleasing the spectator, nor yet the delicacy and boldness of the elaboration; rather the general chorus of praise is concentrated upon the expression of self-subsistency and essential repose in these figures, and more especially has this note of admiration been most emphatic by virtue of the free vitality, the absolute transfusion of and command over the purely natural and material aspect, a command by which the artist moulds the marble, makes it alive and endows it with a soul. And we may add that when all has been said that can be said in such praise the figure of the reclining river-god remains as most emphatically its object, which is one of the finest examples of antique art we have recovered.

(a) The vitality of these works consists in this, that they are the free product of the genius of the artist. The artist at this stage is neither satisfied with giving, by means of general and haphazard contours, suggestions and expressions, a general conception of that which he desires to reproduce, nor does he, on the other hand, in respect to what is individual and singular, accept the forms as he has received them by chance from the external world. For this reason also he does not present them again with loyalty to this accidental aspect, but he is concerned to place within his own free creation what is empirically particularized in isolated aspects that thus appear in a further individual accord[Pg 140] with the universal types of the human form, an accord which is made to appear as throughout transpierced with the spiritual configuration of that which he is called to make apparent, when he suffers us to see his own vitality, conception and animation in the work regarded on the side of the artist's activity. The universal aspect of the content of his work is not due to his creation. It is presented him by means of mythology and saga precisely in the way that he finds the general effect and details of the human form; but the free and living individualization, which permeates all portions on his work, is the result of his own personal point of view, his efforts and services.

(b) The effect and charm of this vitality and freedom is only produced by means of the sufficiency, the honest candour of the elaboration of all the particular parts to which the most definite knowledge and review of the construction of these parts belongs, no less in their position of repose than also in that of their motion. The way in which the different members are disposed and moulded with regard to rondure and smoothness, in every condition of rest and movement, must be expressed in the most satisfactory way. This fundamental elaboration and placing in relief of all the separate parts we find in all products of antique art, and the animation thus produced is only the effect of infinite pains and truth. When the eye contemplates works of this kind it is, in the first instance, unable clearly to recognize a mass of distinction; and it is only by virtue of a particular manner of lighting that we can appreciate the same by means of a stronger contrast between light and shadow. But though these fine nuances are imperceptible at first glance, the general impression they produce is not for that reason lost. In part they appear as the spectator varies his point of view, and in part we derive from them what is essentially the impression of the organic continuity of all the members and their forms. This spirit of vitality, this soul of material configuration, is due wholly to the fact that, though every part is entirely complete in its separable independence, yet it is to a like extent throughout, by virtue of the wealth of its modes of transition, associated not merely with the part that is immediately its neighbour, but with the entire work. For this reason the form is vital in every part[Pg 141] of it; the least detail of it is stamped with purpose; every part of it is differentiated from the rest, possesses that which distinguishes it and makes it distinct, and yet is affected by the same fluidity of treatment, is only what it is vitally as a part of the whole, so that we are able to recognize the whole in the very fragments of it, and a part that is broken off enables us not merely to see but to enjoy a totality that is not thus mutilated. The material surface, although for the most part statues are now seriously impaired by the weather and other causes in this respect, presents a soft and malleable appearance; and in one particular example of the head of a horse I have in mind it literally glows with the ardour of life on the face of the marble itself. This scarce perceptible undercurrent of fluidity in all organic parts, united to the most conscientious elaboration which avoids purely regular surfaces and anything approaching the bare convexity of circular shape, supplies that softness and ideality of all parts, that harmonious unity, which extends throughout the whole as the spiritual breath of one animating presence.

(c) However true, notwithstanding, expression of detailed or general configuration may be, this truth is no mere imitation of Nature simply. Sculpture is always occupied with the abstraction of form, and is consequently obliged, on the one hand, to omit from the bodily presentment what is most essentially the natural aspect, in other words, what is exclusively indicative of natural function. From a further point of view it is unable to carry to extremes its particularization of detail, but rather as, for example, in its treatment of hair, must restrict its attention and reproduction to the more general of its forms. In this way, apart from any other, the human figure, when properly treated by sculpture, is at once declared as the form and expression of Spirit, rather than of a purely natural form. Closely connected with this consideration is the fact that, though a spiritual content is expressed by means of sculpture in the bodily form, yet in the genuine Ideal it is not asserted so prominently in the exterior form to the extent of making that which is simply external in its charm and grace either the exclusive or predominant attraction to the spectator. On the contrary, though the genuine and more severe[Pg 142] Ideal of Spirituality is here presented in bodily shape, and is exclusively thus presented by means of such shape and its expression, yet this configuration must equally appear to be without exception unified, supported and transfused by this ideal content. The swell of life, the malleability and bodily presence, or sensuous fulness and beauty of the bodily organism, must as little supply independently the object of the presentation, as what is individual in the spiritual presence can be carried to the length of expressing the more intimate and more closely related inner life of the spectator, when we consider his own particularity.


If we direct our attention now to the more specific consideration of the fundamental phases, on which the ideal form of sculpture reposes, we shall do well to follow Winckelmann in essentials, who has laid stress on the several types with the finest intuitive sense, and with the most fortunate results, as well as on the way in which the same have been treated and shaped by Greek artists, with the result that they finally present to us the Ideal of sculpture. The vitality, this floating emanation no doubt evades the definitions of the understanding, which in the present case is unable to hold fast and transpierce the particular as in architecture, which, however, asserts itself in the entire work, as we have already seen, as the coalescence of free spirituality and bodily forms.

The first general feature of distinction which arrests us concerns the determination of works of sculpture in a general way, by virtue of which the human form has to express that which is spiritual. The spiritual expression, albeit it has to be poured forth over the entire bodily presence reaches its highest degree of concentration in the facial form, whereas the remaining members are merely able to reflect what is spiritual by means of their position, in so far, that is, as the same proceeds from Spirit in its essential freedom.

In our examination of these ideal forms we will make a[Pg 143] beginning in the first place with the head; we will, then, in the second place enlarge upon the position of the body, after which we shall conclude with the principle of the drapery.

(a) In the ideal configuration of the human head we are first and foremost confronted with the so-called Greek profile.

(α) This profile consists in the peculiar union of the forehead and nose; in the almost straight or merely slightly crooked line in which the forehead unites without interruption with the nose, as also, to speak more accurately, in the vertical direction of this line to another which, extending it from the root of the nose to the orifice of the ear, forms a right angle with the line of the forehead and nose above mentioned. In a line of this sort nose and forehead stand throughout to one another in the ideal and fine art of sculpture, and the question presents itself whether this is a merely national and artistic contingency or a physiological necessity.

Camper, the famous Dutch physiologist, has, with more exactness and in an exceptional way, characterized this line as the line of facial beauty; he in fact discovers therein the main distinction between the form of the human visage and the profile of animal life; and on account of this follows up the modifications of this feature throughout the various human races. In this respect his researches are no doubt in conflict with those of Blumenbach[156]. Speaking generally, however, the line adverted to is in fact a most marked means of distinction between the outward form of man and animal. Among animals, it is true, muzzle and nasal bone also form a more or less straight line, but the specific projection of the animal's snout, which is forced to the front, as being in the nearest practical relation to objects, is essentially determined through its connection with the skull, united to which the ear is moreover placed above or below, so that in the present instance the line that is carried forward from the skull to the root of the nose or the upper jaw, where the teeth are in position, forms an acute angle instead of a right angle as is found in the case of man. Everybody can independently feel in a general way the[Pg 144] strength of this distinction, which no doubt opens the path to more definite thinking on the subject.

(αα) In the formation of the head of animals the most insistent feature is the mouth as the organ by means of which it feeds in co-operation with the upper and lower jaws, the teeth, and the muscles of mastication. All the other organs are subordinate and in a position of subservience to this principal feature. Notably the snout as a means of scenting food, the eyes being to a lesser degree instrumental in spying it out. The express insistence on these animal features as exclusively devoted to the natural wants and their satisfaction gives to the head of the animal the appearance as though intended merely to satisfy natural functions without any trace of spiritual ideality. For this reason the entire animal organism is rendered intelligible from the mouth as a point of departure. A specific mode of nourishment, that is to say, requires a specific structure of the muzzle, a particular formation of the teeth, together with which the structure of the jaw bones, the muscles of mastication, cheek-bones, and, moreover, the vertebrae, the thighbones, claws, and so forth all stand in the closest relation. The body of the animal merely subserves natural ends and on account of this dependence on the purely material aspect of nourishment gives the impression of absence of spirit. If, then, the human countenance is, even in its bodily conformation, to possess a spiritual stamp, those organs which in the animal form are so predominant must in the case of man, retire from such a pre-eminence and give way to those which do not so much suggest a practical relation as one that is referable to the ideality of mind.

(ββ) The human countenance has consequently a second central point, in which that attitude to facts, which indicates the relation of the soul or spirit, is declared. We find this in the upper portion of the face, in the thoughtful brow and the eye, through which we face the soul, which looms out beneath it, together with its environment. Thought, reflection—that is, the introspection of the spiritual identity—is necessarily connected with the forehead, whose internal life in concentrated clarity looks forth from the eye. Through the prominence of the forehead and the correspondingly retreating appearance of the mouth and the cheek-bones the[Pg 145] human countenance derives its spiritual character. This projection of the brow is therefore necessarily that which determines the entire formation of the skull, which no longer falls back, forming the side of an acute angle as its extreme point the mouth is pressed to the front[157], but rather permits of a line being drawn from the forehead through the nose to the point of the chin, which, with a second drawn over the rear of the skull to the apex of the forehead, form a right angle, or one at least which approximates to it.

(γγ) Thirdly, we may say that the nose forms the passage and connection between the lower and upper portion of the face, that is to say, between the purely contemplative and spiritual forehead and the practical organ of nutrition; and if we take into consideration its natural function as the organ of smell it is rightly placed in this intermediate position between an attitude to the external world which is either wholly practical or ideal. No doubt the sense of smell in such a position is still associated with an animal want; it is intimately connected with the taste; and for this reason, in the case of the mere animal, the snout is at the service of the mouth and the organ of nourishment. But the sense of smell is by itself as a fact no actual consumption of objects, as eating and tasting are; it merely accepts the result of the process in which the objects pass into the atmosphere and its invisible and mysterious medium of dissolution. Assuming, then, that the passage from forehead and nose is of such a formation that the forehead viewed independently arches forward, and yet in relation to the nose retreats, whereas this latter organ on its part, in proximity to the forehead, is withdrawn back and only projects beyond this point, we see that both these portions of the face—that is, the contemplative part, the forehead, and that which suggests a practical use, with which we may associate the mouth, form an emphatic contrast, in virtue of which the nose, as belonging in a sense to both extremes, appertains equally to the practical aims[158] of the mouth. Furthermore, the forehead, in its isolated position, receives the appearance of severity and exclusive spiritual concentration[Pg 146] in its contrast to the eloquent sympathy of the mouth, which is primarily the organ of nutritive support, and at the same time accepts the nasal organ into its service as its instrument in creating the natural want by virtue of its smell, and thereby declares its direct relation to the material side. And in close connection with this reciprocity is the contingent character of the form to the indeterminable modifications of which both nose and forehead may be carried. The particular type of the forehead's arch, the nature of its projection or retreat, loses its secure lines of definition, and the nose can be fiat or fine, drooping, arched, more acutely flattened and a snub.

By virtue of amelioration[159] and accommodation, however, that beautiful harmony, which the Greek profile asserts in the gentle and uninterrupted communication between the spiritual forehead and the nose, that is, between the upper and lower portions of the face, the nose appears on this very account of closer affinity to the forehead, and consequently receives itself a spiritual expression and character as though drawn up into the spiritual system. The sense of smell becomes at the same time a sense independent of purely practical ends, a nose refined for spiritual purpose; just as in fact also the nose by its sneer and similar movements, however unimportant by themselves they may be, is nevertheless shown to be in the highest degree pliable as a mode of expressing the judgments and emotions of soul-life. So, for example, we say of a proud man that he holds his nose high, or ascribe sauciness to a young girl who tosses up her bit of a nose.

And the same thing may be said of the mouth. No doubt it is on the one hand referable as an instrument to the satisfaction of hunger and thirst; it expresses, however, in addition to this conditions of the soul, opinions, and passions. Even among animals it is used in this relation as the organ of animal cries, and by man as that of speech, laughter, sighs, and so forth, by which means the lineaments of the mouth are themselves associated with the facts of eloquent soul-sympathy, or of joy, sorrow, and similar conditions.

It is no doubt asserted that, though for the Greeks, such a configuration of the human countenance is presented as[Pg 147] the true presentation of beauty, the Chinese, Jews, and Egyptians, regarded on the contrary an entirely different type, or rather forms absolutely in conflict with such, as equally beautiful, or yet more beautiful, and the conclusion is made that, cancelling one example by another, we have not proved that the Greek profile is the type of genuine beauty. Such a statement, however, is wholly superficial. The Greek profile must in fact not be regarded as any mere external and accidental form, but approximates to the ideal of beauty by its independent claims, namely, first, because it is the type of countenance in which the expression of soul-life forces into the background all that is purely material, and, secondly, because it to the fullest extent detaches itself from all that is contingent in the form, without, however, displaying thereby mere subservience to rule, and leaving no place for every kind of individuality.

(β) With respect to specific types and their closer consideration I will merely touch upon certain fundamental aspects selected from the abundant material which otherwise invites attention. In this respect we may in the first instance refer to the forehead, the eye, and the ear, as those parts of the face which are most nearly related to the contemplative, or at least spiritual aspect, and, secondly, to the nose, mouth, and chin, as those relatively speaking more connected with the organs of practical import.

Thirdly, we shall have somewhat to say of the hair as the external setting, by virtue of which the head is rounded off in an oval shape of beauty.

(αα) The forehead is in the ideal form of classical sculpture, neither fully arched forward, nor as a rule lofty; for, although the spiritual aspect has to be prominently emphasized in its configuration of the visual features, yet it is not as yet spirituality simply as such, which sculpture has to present before us, but rather individuality as still exclusively expressed in bodily form.

In heads of Hercules, for example, the forehead is preferably low, for the reason that Hercules possesses rather the muscular vigour of the body directed towards external objects than the introspective energy of mind. And for the rest we find the forehead subject to many modifications, lower in the case of charming and youthful feminine forms,[Pg 148] and more lofty in the case of figures that represent substantial character and serious reflection.

In speaking of the eye it is important at once to make it clear that in the figure of ideal sculpture, in addition to the absence of any true colour such as is found in painting, the glance of the eye is also absent. It is possible no doubt to show on historical evidence that the ancients, in the case of particular images of Minerva and other gods placed in temples, have painted the eye, since we find actual traces of colour in certain statues; in the case of images dedicated to a sacred purpose, however, artists have frequently held fast so far as possible to traditional usage in the face of good taste. In the case of other examples it is clear that they must have possessed eyes in the shape of precious stones inserted. This practice, however, is the result of a desire already adverted to of adorning the images of gods in as rich and lavish a manner as possible. And we may affirm generally that such either mark the beginnings of the art, or are due, as exceptions, to the traditions of religion. Moreover, apart from this, mere colour is still far from giving to the eye the essentially concentrated look, which alone communicates to it an expression that is wholly complete. We may therefore here assume it as a fact that in the case of statues and busts of a truly classical type, unaffected by such exceptional conditions which have come down to us from antiquity, the light focus of the eye, no less than the spiritual expression of its glance, is absent. For although not unfrequently the focus is inserted in the apple of the eye, or at least is indicated by a conical depression, and a modification which expresses the light point of this focus and by this means a kind of visual glance, such remains nevertheless the purely external configuration of the eye-ball, and is no presentation of its vitality; in other words it is not the glance of it simply, the inward glance, that is, of the soul.

We can readily imagine that it must cost the artist a great deal to sacrifice the eye in its simple aspect of animation. We have only to look a man in the eyes to discover a point of arrest, a centre that explains and is basic to his entire presentment, which we may grasp in its simplest terms from the unifying declaration of its bare look. The eye-glance is in fact that aspect which is most steeped in soul; it is the[Pg 149] concentration of the inward life and its subjective emotion. Just as a man by means of a handshake, so, too, with yet more rapidity he is brought into unity with his fellow by virtue of the eye-glance he faces. And it is this pre-eminently spiritual mode of revelation which sculpture is forced to dispense with. In painting, on the contrary, this outward expression of soul-life makes its appearance by means of the subtle gradations of colouring either in its entire spiritual effect, or in a manifest association with external facts and the particular interests, feelings, and passions, which are called up by their presence. But the province of the sculptor in his art is neither the essential inwardness of soul-life, the concentration of the entire man in the simple centre of self-identity, which gleams out in the human glance as its ultimate point of illumination, nor the developed subjectivity as we find it diffused amid the surrounding world. The end of sculpture is the totality of the external form, into which the soul must disintegrate itself, and present itself by means of the manifold of the medium thus utilized, so that the recourse to one simple soul-focus, in other word the immediacy of the spirit-glance, is not here permitted. The work of sculpture possesses no such ideal intimacy in its simplest terms which is allowed to assert itself, as the human look does assert itself in contrast to other parts of the human body, thereby unfolding a contrast between the eye and the body; rather in sculpture what the individual is in his ideal and spiritual significance remains wholly fused in the total aspect of form, which the spirit that contemplates it, the spectator, can alone grasp in its unity. And in the second place, and with equal truth the eye peers into the world that surrounds it; it necessarily looks at something positive, and thereby is witness to man in his relation to a manifold world of objects, just as in the sphere of feeling he is united to his environment and general experience. It is, however, precisely this union with external objects from which the true figure of sculpture is withdrawn, being rather absorbed in what is substantive in its own spiritual content, essentially self-subsistent, that is without further diffusion or development. Thirdly, the glance of the eye receives its fully evolved significance by virtue of the expression of the rest of the bodily presentment, such as in[Pg 150] its general mien and speech, albeit as the purely formal point of subjective life, in which the entire manifold of the form and its environment is concentrated to a focus, it holds itself aloof and contrasted with this development. A breadth of vision of this specific kind is, however, foreign to the plastic art. For this reason the more specialized mode of expression in the human vision, which did not at the same time immediately discover its further reciprocal response of effect in the entire compass of its configuration, could only be an accidental particularity, which the sculptured figure must dispense with. For reasons such as these, sculpture does not merely deprive itself of nothing when it leaves its figures bare of the eye's full glance; but we may affirm that it is only true to its fundamental principle when it totally disregards this mode of the soul's expression. Consequently it is merely one more example of the fine insight of antiquity, that it recognized firmly this limitation and restriction of sculpture, and remained loyal to the abstract view it implied. It is an evidence of the lofty intelligence of the ancients, based on the fulness of their reasoning faculties, and the comprehensive grasp of their outlook. No doubt we do meet with cases in antique sculpture, in which the eyes gaze upon some definite point, as for example in the case of the faun we have alluded to several times who glances at the young Bacchus. This smile of recognition is expressed in a moving way; but even here the eye is itself visionless, and the real statues of the gods in their simple situations are not presented to us in relations of this specific character so far as the direction of eye and glance is concerned.

With regard to the form of the eye in ideal sculpture it is large of size, widely extended, oval and in respect to position placed at right angles toward the line of the forehead and nose, and in considerable depression. As far back as Winckelmann[160] the large size of the eye was accounted significant of beauty, just as a great light is more beautiful than a small one. "The size, however," his description continues, "is relative to the bone of the eye or its cavity, and is expressed in the mode of incision[161] and in the[Pg 151] opening of the eyelids, of which in beautiful eyes the upper describes a more circular arch toward the angle within than the lower one." In the case of profile heads of superior workmanship the apple of the eye itself possesses a profile and receives precisely by virtue of this opening thus cut away a nobility and a free glance, whose very light, according to Winckelmann's observation, is rendered visible on coins through an exalted point or focus on the apple of the eye. At the same time mere size does not make all eyes beautiful; they are this in the first place by virtue of the cast of the eyelids, and in the second through being themselves deepset. In other words the eye ought not to press forward, and by so doing be thrust on the external world, for it is just this close relation to the external world which is removed from the ideal, exchanging for this the self-retirement of personality upon its own resources, that is, upon what is ideally substantive in the individuality. The projection of the eye, however, also suggests the thought that the apple of the eye is at one time pushed to the fore and at another withdrawn, and, particularly in the case of the staring gaze, only testifies to the fact that the individual is beside himself, either staring in total absence of thought, or in an equally soulless way absorbed in the gaze upon some material object. In the Ideal of antique sculpture the eye is placed in even more pronounced retreat than we actually find it in Nature. Winckelmann suggests as a reason for this that in the case of statues of larger size which are placed more remote from the vision of the spectator, without this more receding position, on account of the fact that apart from this the apple of the eye was for the most part flat, the eye itself would have been without meaning and practically lifeless, if by just this more emphatic projection of the bone of the eye-socket, the thereby accentuated play of light and shadow had not made the eye more apparently active. Yet this deepening of the eye has a yet further significance. In other words, if the forehead is thereby suffered to receive a prominence superior to that of Nature the contemplative portion of the face is the predominant factor, and we receive a keener sense of spiritual expression, while also the emphasized shadow in the eye-sockets on its own account enables us to feel a depth and unimpaired inwardness,[Pg 152] a look that is shut off from external objects, and retires on the essential presence of individuality, whose depths are suffused over the entire presentment. In the case of coins, too, of the best period the eyes are deep-set, and the enclosing bones of the eye are projected. The eye-brows on the contrary are not expressed by a more extended arch of tiny hairs, but merely suggested by means of the acute sharpness of the eye-bone ridge, which, without interrupting the forehead in its form of continuity as eye-brows actually do through their colour and relative elevation, surround the eyes as with an elliptical garland. The more elevated and consequently more independent arch of the eye-brows has never been regarded as beautiful.

Winckelmann[162] further observes with regard to the ears that the ancients devoted the greatest care to their elaboration, so that in the case of cut stones indifferent attention to the execution of the ear is an infallible sign of the spuriousness of the work in question. In particular he insists that statues which are portraits often reproduced the characteristic and individual type of the ear. It is consequently possible in many cases to ascertain the very personality represented from the ear, if the same happens to be known, and to take one example, from a single ear with an exceptionally large opening into it, to deduce the presence of a Marcus Aurelius. Indeed, the ancients have not failed to indicate in this respect what is actually misshapen. As examples of a peculiar type of ear to be found in ideal heads, Winckelmann draws attention to certain ears given to Hercules, which are beaten out flat, and others which bulge out in their cartilaginous folds. They indicate wrestlers and pancratiasts, just as Hercules himself carried off the prize at Elis as a pancratiast in the games of Pelops.

(ββ) We have still to add some remarks with reference to that part of the countenance which is more nearly related to the practical or sensuous side of natural function, in other words the specific form of the nose, the mouth, and the chin. The distinction in the form of the nose gives to the face a variety of configuration and many various kinds of expression. A keenly cut nose with thin folds[163] at the[Pg 153] apertures we are accustomed to associate with an acute understanding, whereas a broad and drooping one, or a snub nose that is somewhat brutish, suggests as a rule sensuality, folly, and bestiality. It is, however, the function of sculpture to hold itself aloof, not merely from such extremes, but also the intermediate stages of design and expression, and refuse consequently to accept, as we have already seen is the case with the Greek profile, not simply the separation from the forehead, but also the extreme curve, whether upwards or downwards, the acute point and the more extended rounding off, the elevation in the middle and the depression towards the forehead and the mouth, generally speaking the extreme acuteness and thickness of the nose, setting in the place of these varied modifications a comparatively indifferent type, if at the same time one which in a quiet way is throughout vitalized by individuality.

Second only to the eye the month belongs to the most beautiful portion of the face, provided that it is formed not so much in express relation to its natural function as an organ for eating and drinking as in accommodation to its spiritual significance. In this respect it only gives place to the eye in the variety and wealth of its means of expression, and this though it is enabled to express with vital force the finest nuances of scorn, disdain, envy, the entire gamut of sorrows and joy through the slightest of movements and the fullest play of such, and to a similar degree to express the charm of love, earnestness, sensuous feeling, obstinacy, attraction, and other such emotions by its state of repose. Sculpture, however, makes less use of it to express the nuances of particular expression, and, above all, is bound to keep what is entirely sensuous, and suggests natural wants away from the form and delineation of the lips. For the most part, therefore, it models the mouth neither over-full-shaped nor too spare, for extremely thin lips also suggest a parsimony of emotional life; makes the underlip more full than the upper, which was also the case with Schiller, upon the modelling of whose mouth was inscribed every kind of significance and fulness of temperament. This more ideal type of the lips in its contrast to the animal snout presents the appearance of a certain absence of desire, whereas in the case of the beast,[Pg 154] if the upper portion projects, we are at once reminded of the headlong devouring of food and the grasp for it. Among human beings the mouth is, when we have regard for its spiritual relation, primarily the seat of human speech, the organ for the free communication of self-conscious life, just as the eye is that of the emotional spirit. Moreover, according to the ideals of sculpture, the lips are not tightly closed; rather in the works of art in its blooming season the mouth is set slightly open without suffering the teeth, however, to be visible, which have nothing to do with the expression of a spiritual significance. This attitude is so far supported by the fact that when the organs of sense are strongly active, as, for example, when we gaze intently at an object, the mouth is closed; when, on the contrary, we are absorbed in visionless thought it opens slightly and the angles of the mouth are to an appreciable extent inclined downwards.

Last in our review of the objects above named, the chin, in its ideal form, completes the spiritual expression of the mouth, that is, assuming it is not wholly absent, as in the case of animals, or only retained in a retreating and meagre condition as in works of Egyptian sculpture, but as rather lengthened out even beyond the degree which is usual, receiving thus in the rounded fulness of its arched curve, more particularly where we have shorter underlips, yet further increase of size. To sum up in fact a full chin conveys the impression of a certain satiety and repose. Odd fussy wenches wag with their withered-up chins and meagre muscles. Goethe, for example, likens their chops to a pair of tongs that will be snatching at something. All restlessness of this kind disappears with a full chin. The dimple, however, which nowadays is held to have some claim to beauty is, as an accidental grace itself, no essential accompaniment of beauty. In its place, however, a rounded chin of considerable proportions is an infallible sign of antique heads. In the case of the Medicean Venus it is not so noticeable, but it is proved on good evidence that the statue has suffered a loss in this respect.

(γγ) We have only now in conclusion to refer to the hair. Generally speaking the hair has rather the character of a vegetable than an animal formation; it testifies less to[Pg 155] the strength of the organism than it is indicative of weakness. Barbarians allow the hair to hang in straight lines, or cut it off close to the head rather than in undulating line or locks. The ancients, on the contrary, devoted excessive attention to the elaboration of the hair in their ideal works of sculpture, a direction in which more modern artists devote less trouble and skill. No doubt the ancients also, when the stone on which they worked was extremely hard, did not suffer the hair of the head to flow in freely hanging locks, but arranged as though it was cropped short[164] and, in that form, finely combed out. In the case of marble sculpture of the better time the hair is in locks and of great vigour both in the case of male and female heads, where we find it presented in upward rolls and bound together on the crown of the head; one finds it at least, as Winckelmann points out, drawn out in winding rolls and with express depressions the better to indicate its various folds in light and shadow, which is impossible if the drills are shallow. Add to this in the case of particular gods the line of direction and the arrangement of the hair is different In a similar way in Christian painting Christ is made recognizable by a definite type of the crown of the head and the locks of hair, following which type in our own time there are not a few who deliberately imitate such an appearance.

(γ) The parts above described in their form sum up collectively the head as a whole. The beautiful form is here determined by a line which most nearly approaches the oval of an egg, and thereby resolves every indication of sharpness, pointedness, and angularity in harmonious form and a gently progressive association, without, however, being exclusively regular and abstractly symmetrical, or issuing in multifold variety of lines and their direction and inclination as is the case with other portions of the body. In order to form this self-collected oval shape, the beautiful and free inclination from the chin to the ear contributes, particularly if we look at the face from the front, no less than the line already indicated, which describes the termination of the forehead, the bones of the eye-socket. And the arch over the profile from forehead over the point of the nose to the[Pg 156] chin is equally noticeable, and the beautiful arching of the back of the head to the nape of the neck. So much I have permitted myself, without entering on further detail, to observe on the ideal shape of the head.

(b) In respect to the other organic members such as neck, breast, back, belly, arms, hands, thighs, and feet, we find here another type of co-ordination. They can no doubt possess a beautiful form, but the beauty is sensuous, vital, without expressing by virtue of their form as such a spiritual significance as the countenance expresses it. The ancients have shown for the form of these parts of the body the highest sense of beauty; but in genuine sculpture they must not merely pass as the beauty of a living organism, but as members of the human form it is their further function to present the appearance of a spiritual effect, so far as this is compatible with what is purely bodily presence. Otherwise the expression of the soul would be concentrated wholly in the face, whereas in plastic sculpture what is spiritual must appear as permeating nothing less than the entire configuration, and must not be permitted to isolate itself independently and in contrast to what is corporeal.

If we now inquire what are the means which enable the breast, the torso, the back, and the extremities to contribute to the expression of spirit and thereby to receive over and beyond a beautiful vitality, the breath of a spiritual life, we shall find the following:

In the first place there is the relation in which the limbs, in so far as that relation proceeds from the ideality of Spirit, and is freely determined by that ideality, are brought into juxtaposition.

Secondly, there is the motion and repose in their complete freedom and beauty of form.

Thirdly, this type of position and motion in their definite affiliation[165] and expression supplies the situation more closely, in which the Ideal, which can never consist purely in the Ideal of abstraction, is comprehended.

I will add yet further some general remarks on the above points.

(α) With regard to position of first importance is that[Pg 157] aspect we have had already occasion to notice in a superficial way, namely, the upright position of man. The body of animals moves in a parallel line with the ground; mouth and eye follow the same direction, and the animal is unable independently to raise himself from this relation to gravity. The opposite is the case with mankind; the eye looking straight forward is placed in its natural direction, that is, in a right angle with the line of gravity and the body. Man is no doubt able to go on all fours just as animals do, and children do so in fact; but as soon as consciousness begins to awaken, man wrests himself from the animal chains of the earth, and stands up straight in free independence. This stansion is an act of will, for if we cease to try to stand our body collapses and falls to the ground. In this way the upright position possesses a spiritual significance, in so far as the self-elevation from the ground remains linked with the volition and thus with that which is spiritual and ideal; just as we are accustomed to say of an essentially free and independent man, who keeps his opinions, view's, principles, and aims unaffected by others, that he stands on his own feet.

The upright position is, however, not yet merely as such beautiful; it is only so by virtue of the freedom of its form. In other words if a man stands up only straight in an abstract way, letting his hands fall glued to his side with no interval of separation, his legs in the same way being close to each other, we receive an untoward expression of stiffness, even although in the first instance this is due to no compulsion. From this stiff effect we deduce on the one hand the abstract and likewise architectonic principle of uniformity, under which the limbs adhere together in the like position, and on the other hand we do not discover in it any determination derived from what is spiritual and the ideal principle. In such a case arms, legs, breast, body, all the members stand and hang just as though they had from the first grown there on man, without being brought by means of his spirit, his volition and emotions into a change of position. The same thing may be said of the sitting posture. Conversely also the squatting or perching on the ground is destitute of freedom for the reason that it suggests an attitude of subordination, dependence, and serfdom. The free position, on the contrary, avoids in a measure this[Pg 158] abstract uniformity and angularity, and places the position under lines which approximate to the organic form; and to a further extent it suffers spiritual relations to shine through, so that by virtue of such a position the conditions and passions of the soul are cognizable. Only in this manner can the position pass as a genuine exhibition of Spirit.

In the application of positions as significant pose[166], it is necessary, however, that sculpture proceed with great circumspection, and it has thereby many a difficulty to overcome. On the one hand, no doubt, the reciprocal relation of the members is to be derived from the ideal principle of Spirit; on the other hand, however, this determination from the ideal side ought not to place the particular parts under a mode which contradicts the corporeal structure and the laws of the same, and thereby produce the impression of a constraint imposed on the members, or come into collision with the material of substance, in which sculpture is set the task to execute the artist's conceptions. And, in the third place, the pose must appear wholly spontaneous, as though the body received it of its own initiative, otherwise body and spirit have the appearance of being distinct and separable from each other, and are involved in the relative position of mere direction from one side and purely abstract obedience from the other, whereas both in sculpture ought rightly to constitute one and the same immediately congruent totality. This absence of constraint is here of the first importance. Spirit, as the ideal principle, must throughout transfuse the members, and these latter must in like degree essentially accept spirit and its determination as to the content of its own soul. As to the pose itself and its character, which we may empower to express the just attitude in ideal sculpture, we can readily infer from our previous exposition that it ought not be one wholly referable to change or instantaneous action. The representation of sculpture must produce no effect such as is seen in the case where men, while in the art of motion and action, were turned to stone or frozen by means of Hüon's horn. On the contrary, it is necessary that the posture, although it may without question point to some characteristic action, express for all that merely a beginning[Pg 159] and preparation, an intention, or it must indicate the close of an action and a return from the same to the state of repose. The repose and self-subsistency of a spiritual life, which potentially encloses in itself an entire world, is the most suitable aspect for the ideal form of sculpture.

(β) And, in the second place, what we have observed of posture is equally applicable to motion. There is in sculpture as such less room for motion in the full sense of the term than other arts[167], just in so far as the same does not as yet advance to the mode of presentation which is more nearly related to an art whose sphere of effect is more extensive. The tranquil image of the god in his blessed self-seclusion is the presentment which it is its task mainly to set before us in all its essential freedom from conflict. A variety of movement is necessarily excluded from such. What we ought to have is rather a stansion or reclining posture of essential self-absorption[168]. This attitude of self wholly referable to self it is which does not proceed to a definite action, and by doing so does not contract its entire energy to the space of a single moment, making such of first importance, but rather persists in the continued equilibrium of tranquillity. We ought to be able to imagine that the figure of the gods will remain for ever in the same posture. The escape from self-subsistency, the plunging of individual life within the vortex of a particular action that implies conflict, the strain of the moment, which is unable to continue as such—such relations are foreign to the ideality of sculpture. We cross them rather where, in the case of groups and reliefs, the particular moments of an action are presented with a distinct inclination to the principle of painting. A result brought about by powerful effects, and their passing exhibition, no doubt exercises upon us an immediate impression; but after once having received it we do not readily return to it. For that which is so prominent in the presentation is the affair of a moment's passage, which we both observe and recognize in that moment, whereas the ideal fulness and freedom, what is infinite in its significance, in other words that which holds our attention permanently, is relegated to the background.

[Pg 160]

(γ) In asserting this, however, we do not maintain that sculpture, where, in the case where it adheres to its principle in all its severity and attains its highest point, must necessarily exclude entirely the attitude of movement. If it did so it would merely present to us the divine in its indeterminacy and indifference. On the contrary, in so far as it is its function to comprehend the substantive as individuality, and to present it to our vision in bodily form, both the ideal and external condition, in accordance with which it brings its content and form to an impression, is necessarily individual. And it is this individuality of a definite situation which is pre-eminently expressed by means of the pose and movement of the body. Inasmuch as, however, the substantive in sculpture is of most importance, and individuality is not as yet itself extricated from the same to the point of particular self-subsistency, the specific determinacy of the situation must not be of a kind that it impairs or annuls the simple sterling character[169] of that substantiveness, by either making it one-sided or drawing it into the conflict of collisions, or in a general way by placing it without reserve under the overmastering importance and variety of what is particular. It must rather remain, independently regarded, a determinacy less essential in its result, or rather we may say a vivacious play of vital force, harmless in effect over the superficial features of individuality, whose substantive character in no respect suffers loss thereby in depth, subsistency, and repose. This is, however, a point which I have at an earlier stage of this investigation already[170] discussed at length in relation to the Ideal of sculpture when the situation itself was under review, in which the Ideal ought to appear in definite relation to the presentation: further discussion may here be consequently dispensed with.

(c) The last point of importance we have now to consider is the question of drapery in sculpture. At first sight it may appear as though the nude form and its corporeal beauty permeated by spiritual significance, in the manner of its pose and movement, were the most appropriate form for the Ideal of sculpture, and drapery were simply a hindrance.[Pg 161] In accordance with such a view we hear the complaint raised, more particularly in our own time, that modern sculpture is so frequently forced to drape its figures, whereas no drapery should touch the beauty of human organic forms. And we have finally the wail added that our artists should have so little opportunity of studying the nude which was ever before the eyes of the ancients. In general we may simply reply to this that though without question, from the point of view of sensuous beauty, the preference must be given to the nude form, yet merely sensuous beauty is not the ultimate aim of sculpture, so that the Greeks do not give the lead to a false path when they presented the larger number of their male figures no doubt in the nude, but by far the greater number of female figures draped.

(α) And generally we may add that, apart from artistic purpose, drapery is justified in real measure in the necessity of providing a protection from climatic changes, Nature having failed to provide man with any covering of hide, feathers, hair, such as animals possess. And from another point of view it is the sense of modesty which compels man to cover himself with raiment. Now this shame, regarded in a general way, is a beginning of indignation over that which is coarse or crude. Man in fact, who is conscious of his more elevated calling to be Spirit, must necessarily regard what is purely animal as an incompatibility with that, and pre-eminently seek to cover, as that which is not consonant with the Ideal of his soul[171], those parts of his body, such as the belly, breast, back, and legs, which are subservient to animal functions, or only are directed to external uses, and possess directly no spiritual determinacy, and no spiritual expression. We therefore find among every people, who have entered upon the life of reflection, this sense of shame and the necessity of clothing in some degree, whether great or small. As far back as the narrative of Genesis we have this transition expressed in the shrewdest way. Before Adam and Eve have eaten of the tree of knowledge they walk in Paradise in the nakedness of innocence; but no sooner is their consciousness as spiritual beings[172] aroused than they are ashamed of their nakedness. The same sense is prevalent[Pg 162] among all other Asiatic nations. So, for example, Herodotus asserts in narrating[173] how Gyges came to the throne, that it was regarded even in a man as a matter of shame among the Lydians, and almost all barbarians, to be seen naked; and as a proof of this we have the tale of the wife of Candaules, king of the Lydians. The tale runs that Candaules exposed his wife in nudity to the gaze of Gyges, his satellite and favourite, in order to convince him that her beauty as a woman was beyond compare. She, however, discovered the outrage, which it was intended to conceal from her, by chance seeing Gyges, who had been hidden in her sleeping chamber, slip out of the door. Indignant at the outrage, she received Gyges in audience the following day, and declared to him that, inasmuch as the king had taken this step and permitted Gyges to see what he ought not to have seen, he might select one of two courses, either kill the king as his punishment, and possess himself both of her and the kingdom, or himself die. Gyges selected the first alternative, and after assassinating the king mounted the throne and married the widow. On the other hand the Egyptians represented frequently, or, indeed, for the most part, their statues in the nude to the extent that the male figures merely carried an apron; and in the case of Isis the drapery was indicated by nothing more than a barely perceptible fringe round the legs. This, however, was neither due to a defective sense of shame, nor in virtue of their instinct for the beauty of organic forms. For if we consider their symbolic point of view we can only maintain that what concerned them was not the configuration of a presentment consonant with a spiritual significance, but rather the meaning, the essence and conception of that which the form was intended to present to intelligence; and they permitted the human form to be thus, without reflection upon the further and more remote adequacy of the same to Spirit, in its natural state, which they moreover copied with great closeness to life.

(β) Finally, among the Greeks, we meet with both aspects, both nude and draped figures. And in actual life also they were equally clothed, albeit from other considerations they held it a point of honour to have first contested in the[Pg 163] games nude. To an exceptional degree the Lacedaemonians were the first to wrestle naked. But this was with them not due so much to a sense of beauty as to their general indifference to what savoured of refinement and spiritual purport in the sense of modesty. In the national character of the Greek people, among whom the feeling for personal individuality in all its immediacy, and as it is the spiritual animation of their existence, is so strongly developed, taking this as the instinct for free and beautiful forms, it was also inevitable that what was human in its immediacy, the bodily presence, that is, as it belongs to man and is suffused with his spirit, should be elaborated in independent form, and that the human form should be revered above all others for the reason that it is the freest and the most beautiful. In this sense, no doubt, they threw aside that instinct of shame, which will not suffer us to look at what is purely corporeal in' man, not out of indifference to what was spiritual, but with an indifference to what is purely sensuous in desire, for the sake of beauty; and this intention is manifest in full play throughout a great number of their nude figures.

This entire absence of drapery, however, it was impossible wholly to justify on principle. For, as I have already indicated when distinguishing the head from other parts of the body, it is undeniable that the spiritual expression of the form is restricted to the face and the pose and movement of the whole, to the general mien, which is pre-eminently eloquent by virtue of the arms, hands, and position of the legs. For these organs, whose activity is in an outward direction, have still, and precisely by the nature of their pose and movement, for the most part the expression of a spiritual deliverance. The other members of the body, on the contrary, are and remain solely productive of a sensuous beauty; and the distinguishing features which are visible on them can only be bodily vigour, development of muscle, or degrees of delicacy and softness, such as characterize respectively the two sexes, age, youth, and childhood. As a means, therefore, of expressing what is spiritual in the form, the nudity of these parts is also from the standpoint of beauty indifferent; and it is only due to our moral sense, when, that is to say, the main thing looked[Pg 164] for is the paramount presentation of the spiritual in man, that such parts should be veiled. What in general ideal art does in the case of every separate part of the body is to remove the necessary limitations of animal life in its detailed particularities, such as little veins, wrinkles, hairs of the skin, and so forth, and simply to enforce and emphasize the spiritual impression of the form in its vital outlines, and this is precisely what drapery effects. It covers up the superfluity of the organs, which are no doubt necessary for the body's self-support, but are in other respects superfluous as an expression of the spirit's import. We are, therefore, not entitled to assert without condition that the nudity of figures of sculpture in every respect betrays a higher sense of beauty, and a greater ethical freedom and emaculacy. It was in this respect, as in others, that a just and spiritual instinct dominated the Greek.

Children, Cupid for example, where we find the bodily presentment one of unreserved innocence, and the spiritual beauty consisting just in this; or, to take other examples, youths, youthful gods, heroic gods, and heroes, such as Perseus, Hercules, Theseus, Jason, in which cases heroic courage, and the use and elaboration of the bodily frame in works of bodily strength and permanence is of most importance; or wrestlers in the national games, where it is not so much the content of the action, the spirit and individuality of character, as the physical aspect of the exploit, the vigour, suppleness, and free play of the muscles and limbs, which is the source of exclusive interest; or finally fauns and satyrs, Bacchantes in the frenzy of the dance, no less than Aphrodite, in so far as the sensuous charm of her beauty is emphasized—such are the kind of examples which were rendered in the nude by antique sculpture. Where, on the contrary, a more lofty significance and reflection, a more ideal earnestness is made prominent, where in general the natural features are not superlatively emphasized, there we get drapery. So Winckelmann adduces a case where among ten statues of the female form only one is wholly undraped. Among the goddesses Pallas, Juno, Vesta, Diana, Ceres and the Muses are pre-eminently those which are veiled in drapery, while among the gods such a treatment particularly[Pg 165] applies to Jupiter, and the bearded Indian Bacchus, with some others.

(γ) And finally with regard to the principle of drapery, it is unquestionable that we have here a subject that critics are very fond of discussing, and which has consequently to some extent been already well thrashed out. I will, therefore, limit myself to the few following remarks.

Generally we have no reason to lament the fact that our modern feeling of what is respectable is somewhat averse to setting up totally nude figures. For if the drapery merely permits the pose in question to be entirely transpicuous instead of covering it up, we lose nothing at all; rather the drapery is just that which rightly fixes the emphasis, and is in this respect even an advantage, in so far as it draws us aside from the direct view of that which as merely sensuous is without true significance, and simply shows us what is there in relation to the situation expressed by means of pose and movement.

(αα) Once accept this principle, and it may at first sight appear that such covering is of most signal advantage for the artistic treatment, which conceals the contour of the limbs, and consequently also the pose as little as possible, precisely in fact as this is the case with our sufficiently enclosing modern garments. Our closely fitting sleeves and trousers follow the outlines of the form, and stand in the way of the motion and mien least of all by their making the entire form of the limbs visible. The long white garments and bulging-out hoses of the Orientals, on the contrary, are intolerable to our sense of vivacity and multifarious activities, and are only fitting for folk who, like the Turks, sit the whole day long in one place with legs crossed, or only perambulate slowly and with great gravity. And yet we are conscious at the same time—indeed the very first glance at either modern statues or pictures will establish the truth for us—that our modern clothing is entirely unartistic. In other words what we behold in it really is, as I have already in another passage, insisted, not the fine, free, and vital outlines of the body in their tender and flowing elaboration, but stretched out sacks with stiff folds. For albeit we do obtain the most generalized form, yet the[Pg 166] beauty of the organic undulations is lost; and what we really look at is a contrivance of exterior aim, a matter of tailor's work, which in one place is stitched together, in another folded back over, and yet in another made tightly fitting—in other words, as a whole, forms that are not free, folds and surfaces which are fastened together by stitch, buttons and button holes. To all intents and purposes such a clothing as this is simply a cover and veil, which, while devoid of any real form of its own, yet in its other aspect, though in a general sort of way following the organic contour of limbs, hides from the view just that sensuous beauty and vital rondour and undulation which belongs to them, merely to replace it with the material aspect of the mechanically elaborated stuff of which it is composed. And thus we get what is so entirely inartistic in our modern form of garments.

(ββ) The principle for an artistic type of clothing, then, consists in this that it is at the same time treated as a work of architectonic design. Such a work is simply an environment, in which a man can likewise move in freedom, and which must essentially possess and declare on its part a determinate shape of its own as its mode of covering quite apart from the form which it encloses. Add to this such a work, in its aspect of a thing which is worn and carried, must freely follow its own mechanical texture. A principle of this type follows in the track of the kind of draping which we find adopted in the ideal sculpture of the ancients. Particularly here do we find that the mantle is as it were a house in which free motion is possible. It is no doubt carried, but is only made fast at one point, namely, on the shoulder. For the rest it evolves its particular form according to the modifications brought about by its own weight; it hangs, falls along the ground, and casts folds spontaneously, and only receives through the pose the varied changes of this free kind of configuration. In like manner there is little to impair essentially, if in varied degree, the freedom of disposition in other parts of antique drapery. This it is which constitutes its artistic quality. It is only in drapery such as this that we do not face something which is a burden, and something artificial, whose shape merely displays an external constraint and necessity, which[Pg 167] is rather something itself independent in its form, and which, however, accepts from a spiritual source, that is the pose of the figure, its point of departure. For this reason the garments of the ancients are only fastened to the body so far as is actually unavoidable, that is, to prevent their collapse, and are modified by the pose of it. In all other respects they hang freely about it, and themselves in their power of movement through the motion of the body give yet further support to the same principle. And this is wholly as it should be; for the body is one thing and its drapery another, and the latter ought thereby to receive its full due and be displayed in its freedom. Modern clothing on the contrary is either wholly carried by the body and purely in subjection to it, so that even the pose itself is too emphatically repeated, and it merely follows the forms of the limbs, or, in cases where it is able to secure an independent form in the formation of folds, it is after all merely the tailor's work who makes this form according to the exigences of fashion. The material is, on the one hand, dragged up and down by the various parts of the body and their movements, and, on the other, by its stitches and seams. On grounds of this description the antique form of drapery is by a long way to be preferred to our modern style as the ideal standard for works of sculpture. No end has been written with every resource of antiquarian research over the form and details of the ancient ways of draping, for although men as a rule do not permit themselves to chatter much over fashion in their clothes, the kind of cloth, border, cut, and every other such detail, yet they find ample justification from the antiquarian standpoint for treating these trifling matters also as important, and of talking about them with even greater prolixity than is permitted to woman herself in her unchallenged field of supremacy.

(γγ) It is, however, a totally different problem we have to consider when the question is asked whether modern clothing, that is, the kind so greatly to be contrasted with the antique, is in all cases to be rejected. This question is of particular importance when we examine the case of portrait statues; and inasmuch as its main interest closely touches a principle of importance to art as we have it now, we will consider it at rather greater length. When nowadays[Pg 168] we have to create a portrait of some contemporary it becomes necessarily a part of it that the drapery and the environment are both accepted from the actual facts of their individual existence, for, inasmuch as it is just this actual person which is here made the object of art, this external framework, to which the clothing essentially belongs, is in its reality and truth precisely that which is most important. And this is more especially to be observed when what is aimed at is the presentment before our vision in our individuality of well-defined characters whose greatness and activity in any particular sphere have been remarkable. Whether it be in a picture, or in the marble, an individual is, in fact, exhibited to our immediate vision in a bodily mode, in other words under external conditions, and to seek to carry the portrait beyond such a restriction would virtually imply the self-contradiction that the individual was associated with that which was essentially untrue, and this for the reason that the service, what is peculiar and distinguished in actual men, consists precisely in their active relations to the real, that is in their life and action in definite professional spheres. And if this individual activity is to be made clear to us the environment must exhibit nothing that is foreign to or tends to impair the effect. A famous general, for example, has lived in respect to his professional surroundings with cannon, rifles, and powder before his eyes. If we intend to depict him in his professional activity we recur most naturally to the way he gives orders to his adjutants, commands the line of battle, and advances against the enemy. And with yet more detail such a general is not merely one of a class, but is distinguished by the particular style of his uniform. He is either a leader of infantry or a stalwart hussar, and so forth. In every example of this kind we have some exceptional form of habiliment which is appropriate to the circumstances. Moreover a famous general is simply a famous general, not necessarily a law-giver, poet, or even very possibly a religious man; he commands in all respects as a soldier; he is just that; he is, in a word, no complete totality, and this alone gives us the ideal and divine type. For the divinity of the ideal figures of sculpture is to be sought in nothing so much as this that their character and[Pg 169] individuality are appertinent to no particular relations and professed callings, but are rather removed from such division, or, in the case that the idea of such relations is mooted, it is so placed before us that we are forced to believe about such individuals that their powers of performance are unlimited. For reasons such as the above a demand to represent the heroes of our time or the more recent Past, when their heroism is of a restricted nature, in ideal drapery is very superficial. Such a demand testifies no doubt to a zeal for artistic beauty, but a zeal which is unintelligent, and in its devotion to the antique overlooks the fact that the greatness of the ancients likewise reposes essentially in the lofty comprehension of all that they accomplished. In other words, they have, no doubt, represented what is essentially ideal, but they have not sought to enforce a form that is opposed to reality. If the entire content of the individuals in question is not of an ideal character, then their draping ought not to be such; and if a powerful, determined, and resolute general does not already possess a countenance indicative of the lineaments of Mars, then to drape him with Greek drapery would be as much a folly as though we popped a bearded man in a maiden's petticoats. Despite this truth, however, modern clothing does involve us in considerable difficulty because it is subject to fashion, and consequently subject to change. For the rational principle of fashion consists in this that it exercises over Time the claim to be always subject to modification. A robe, according to some particular cut, soon passes out of fashion, and it is only in fashion so long as it pleases. But when the fashion is over, we cease to be used to it, and what pleased us a few years back now appears suddenly ridiculous. For this reason only those forms of garments are appropriate for statues which carry the specific character of a period in a more permanent type; but, in general, it may be advisable to find a middle way, as our artists attempt to do. Yet, despite of the rule, it is generally a mistake to clothe portrait statues in modern clothing when they are either small, or the object sought after is simply a familiar presentation. In such cases mere busts are best, which are the more easily lifted to an ideal elevation, simply neck and breast being retained, inasmuch as the head and the[Pg 170] physiognomy thus remain of most importance, and everything else is relegated to incidental insignificance. Where we have large-sized statues on the contrary, more particularly where the pose is one of tranquillity, we see at once, because they are in repose, how they are draped; and large-sized male figures, even in the painted portrait, when clothed after modern wont can only with difficulty be raised over what is insignificant. As instances we may mention the full-figure seated portraits by old Tischbein of Herder and Wieland, of which we have excellent engravings on copper. One feels at once, when looking at them, that it is a somewhat stale, flat, and unprofitable business to gaze at their breeches, stockings, and shoes, and absolutely so to see their cosy, self-contented posture on a sofa, where they have their hands lying happily together over their paunches.

It is another matter with portrait statues of individuals where, either in respect to the period of their activity they are far removed from our own, or are themselves essentially of an ideal greatness. In such cases what is old is already divested of the temporal aspect and has passed into the more indefinite background of the general idea, so that in this release from its particular form of actuality it is also in the mode of its drapery capable of an ideal presentation. And this is still more true in the case of individuals, who by virtue of their self-subsistency and the ideal fulness of what are otherwise the mere limitations of their particular profession, and detached from what is merely the activity of a definite period of time, create independently for themselves a free totality, a world of relations and activities, and consequently should appear, even in the aspect of their habiliments, as exalted above the familiar guise of every-day life in their ordinary temporal costume. As far back as the Greeks we find statues of Achilles and Alexander, on which the more individual traits of portraiture are of so fine a quality that we should rather imagine them to be sons of gods than human beings. In the case of the genial and greathearted youth Alexander this is quite as it should be. And in much the same way, moreover, Napoleon himself has been lifted to such a fame, and is a genius of so comprehensive a grasp, that there is no reason why he should[Pg 171] not be depicted in ideal drapery, which indeed would not be unfitting for Frederick the Great, when the object is to celebrate him in all his greatness of soul. No doubt the size of the statues is here, too, of importance. In the case of small figures, which carry an air of familiarity, the three-cornered little hat of Napoleon is out of place no less than the famous uniform and the arms crossed over breast, and, if we desire to have before us the great Frederick as "old Fritz," we may have him pictured for us with hat and stick as we find him on tobacco boxes.


Hitherto we have considered the Ideal of sculpture in its general character and in the further aspect of the more detailed forms which distinguish it. We have thirdly only left us to emphasize the fact that the Ideals of sculpture, in so far as, in respect to their content, they have to manifest what is substantive in individualities, and in respect to their external form the human bodily shape, are also under the necessity of an advance in which the particularity of their presentation is differentiated, and an aggregate of specific individuals is thereby created, just as we already, in the classical type of art, recognize the embracing circle of the Greek gods. We may, no doubt, very possibly imagine to ourselves there can only be one exemplum of the finest beauty and perfection, which may be, moreover, concentrated in its absolute completeness in one statue. Such a conception of one Ideal in its purity is deficient in insight and indeed ridiculous. For the beauty of the Ideal consists just in this, that it is no purely general form or standard, but essentially individuality, and consequently possesses both particularity and character. It is simply owing to this that vitality is imported into works of sculpture, and it is this[174] which expands the one abstract beauty, in a totality of essentially definite creations. Taken as a whole, however, this aggregate is, if we regard its content, one with marked limits; and the reason is that a number of categories, which we are, for example, accustomed to employ in our[Pg 172] Christian outlook, fall absolutely away in the case of the genuine Ideal of sculpture. The ethical points of view and virtues, for example, such as were brought together by the Middle Ages and our modern world in a synthetical nexus of duties which yields to some modification, moreover, in every epoch, has no meaning at all when applied to the ideal gods of sculpture; it is simply absent from such a circle altogether. Consequently we can as little expect to find here the presentation of sacrifice, of egotism overcome, of the conflict, against what is sensuous, of the victory of chastity and so forth, as that of incommutable fidelity, of the honour and honesty of either man or woman, or of the expression of religious meekness, subjection, and blessedness in God. All these virtues, qualities, and conditions repose in part on the breach between what is spiritual and what is corporeal; and in part they retire altogether beyond what is of the body within, the intimate shrine of the soul, or betray the individual personal life in its separation from its entirely concrete and explicit substance, as also in its struggle to find again mediation in the same. Moreover, the circle of these veritable gods of sculpture is no doubt a totality, but, as we already discovered in our consideration of the classical type of art, it is, when we examine the distinguishing differences of its notion, no stringently articulated and unified system. Moreover, the particular examples are every one of them to be distinguished from all the others in their essentially definite and self-exclusive individuality, albeit they are not thus set apart by virtue of the characteristics of a purely abstract mintage, but rather, on the contrary, include much which they share in common relatively to their ideal and divine substance.

We will now pass in review the distinctions above indicated under the following aspects:

First, we have to examine purely external marks, incidental attributes, style of drapery, style of armour, and such like, indications with the detail of which Winckelmann deals at exceptional length.

Secondly, we shall see how the most important differences do not merely consist in external marks and traits of this kind, but rather in the individual configuration and habitus of the entire figure. What is most important in this respect[Pg 173] is the distinction of age, sex, no less than that of the different sphere, from which the works receive their content and form, whether they are the impressions of gods, heroes, satyrs, fawns, or such representations as reach their final dissolution in the attempt to render animal images.

And, thirdly, we propose to direct the attention on a particular example of each class, in the individual form of which sculpture elaborates these general differences. Here, no doubt, we are faced with a multiplicity of material, and can only permit ourselves to deduce parts of it by way of example, a province, too, as it moreover is which implies a large experience.

(a) In considering these first mere attributes and all such external accessories, the kind of ornament, armour, tools, vessels, and in general all that is associated with mere environment, we find that such things are of a very simple character in superior works of sculpture, and retained only in a temperate and restricted degree, so that we see little of them beyond what is suggestive or sufficient to appeal to our minds. It is the independent figure, that is its expression and not outside accessories, which has to give us the spiritual significance and its manifestation. Conversely, however, marks of this kind are nevertheless necessary, in order to enable us to recognize the particular gods. In other words divinity in its universal guise, which is the source of the substantive part of the presentment in the case of each individual, asserts, by virtue of this very equality of ground-basis, close affinity between the expression of each example and also between the individual figures, so that every god is to this extent withdrawn from the aspect of his particularity, and can indeed further pass through other conditions and modes of expression, than would otherwise belong to them. For this reason we do not as a rule have set before us the particular characterization with complete seriousness; and it is frequently these external additions which exclusively make the particular god intelligible. Among these indicating marks I will allude briefly to the following.

(α) I have already discussed the real attributes when the classical type of art and its gods presented an opportunity. In sculpture the same lose yet more their self-subsistent, symbolical character, and merely retain the right to appear[Pg 174] as the external presentation and form which is referable to simply one aspect of the specific gods, a presentment which is true to this extent or approximately so. Such marks are frequently borrowed from animal life, as for example when Zeus is represented with the eagle, Juno with the peacock, Bacchus with the tiger and panther, who are harnessed to his car, because, as Winckelmann observes[175], this animal is an exceptionally thirsty one, and, moreover, fond of wine; and in the like manner we have Venus with her hare. Other attributes are tools or utensils of some kind, which are related to activities and actions, which may be ascribed to any particular god by virtue of his or her specific individuality. So we have Bacchus depicted with the thyrsus wand, in order to entwine thereon the ivy-leaves and garlands; or he receives a wreath of laurel leaves, to indicate him as victorious in his expedition to India, or a torch, with which he lighted Ceres home.

Accessories such as these, among which I have here, of course, only adduced the most famous examples, are an exceptional stimulus to the acuteness and learning of our professors, and carry them into a kind of commerce in trifles, which too frequently leads them out of bounds, and finds significance in things where there is really none. As an example we are assured that two famous sleeping female figures in the Vatican and the Villa Medici are representations of Cleopatra, simply because they have a bracelet in the shape of a viper, and to the vision of such archaeologists a serpent at once suggests the death of Cleopatra, much as it would suggest to a pious father of the church the original serpent who seduced Eve in Paradise. It was, however, a prevailing custom for Greek women to wear bracelets in serpent coils, and such bracelets in fact were called by that name. Consequently the just sense of Winckelmann[176] has long ago rejected this interpretation, and Visconti has finally recognized[177] them as figures of Ariadne, as she at lasts sinks to sleep after her sorrow at the departure of Theseus. Although in uncounted cases acuteness of this quality shows itself at fault in dealing with detail of this kind, and makes[Pg 175] itself appear contemptible in its departure from such insignificant facts, yet unquestionably both research and criticism of apparently unimportant facts are necessary, because it is only thereby that we can arrive at the closer determination of a figure. Yet even here the difficulty crops up, that attributes no less than form, do not in all cases point our conclusions to one god, but may be shared in common by several. We have the vase, for example, not only associated with Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury, Aesculapius, but also with Ceres and Hygiaea. Several goddesses receive the ear of corn; we find the lily in the hand of Juno, Venus, and Hope; and even the lightning is not the exclusive possession of Zeus, for it is shared by Pallas, who on her part again does not alone carry; the Aegis, but on equal terms with Zeus, Juno, and Apollo[178]. The source of the individual deities from a general significance of less determinate character which, they share itself is associated with ancient symbols, which were appertinent to this more general and consequently more widely shared nature.

(β) Accessories of this incidental nature are more in place with works which, already departing from the simple repose of the gods, represent actions, groups, or the series of figures such as we find on reliefs, and for this reason are able to make more extensive use of a variety of external indications and suggestions. On gifts dedicate to a devout purpose, which are frequent in all kinds of works of art and nowhere more frequent than, in the case of statuary, on statues of Olympic victors, but more particularly on coins and cut stones, the rich and prolific invention of the Greek found ample scope for the presence of symbolical references of this type, such as that to his city's locality and others like it.

(γ) Other signs are more removed from purely external significance, and penetrate deeper within the individuality of such deities. These themselves are a part of the particular type in question, and are an integrating factor in it. Among such we may mention the specific type of the drapery, armour, adornment of the hair, and other attire of a similar nature, in respect of which I must here content myself in elucidation with a few examples borrowed from Winckelmann,[Pg 176] who exercised great acuteness in such matters. Among the several gods Zeus was pre-eminently recognizable by the general treatment of his hair, and our authority maintains[179], that any particular head can at once be determined as one intended for this deity or no by the hair over his forehead, or his beard, even though there be nothing else significant to arrest us. In other words he asserts that, "the hair is elevated in an outward curve on the brow, and its different divisions fall in a narrow curve with broken lines[180] down again." This type of hair-treatment was so rigorous, that we even find it persisted in among the sons and grandchildren of Zeus. So, for example, the head of Zeus is barely to be distinguished from that of Aesculapius in this respect, who consequently receives another kind of beard, more particularly over the upper lip, where the same is more depressed in its curve, whereas that of Zeus is rather folded over the angle of the mouth and intermingled with the beard on the chin. Winckelmann further recognizes the fine head of a statue in the Villa Medici, later in Florence, by means of the more curled beard, which, moreover, folds over the upper lip, and is of greater thickness, and must be distinguished from the heads of Zeus with their greater tendency to curled locks. Pallas, in direct contrast to Diana, wears her hair long, bound together in its downward fall from the head, and then beneath the fillet flowing in a series of locks. Diana, on the contrary, wears hers thrown up from all sides, and fastened in a knot on the crown of the head. The head of Ceres is up to the back portion covered with her veil. Add to this, in addition to the corn she carries, she holds a diadem as Juno does, in front of which, to quote our authority once more[181], the scattered hairs are thrown into a charming confusion, as though to suggest possibly her sorrow at the robbing of her daughter Proserpine. Individuality of the same kind is emphasized by other exterior means, as for example, when we recognize Pallas by her helmet and its particular shape, in her type of drapery and various other things.

[Pg 177]

(b) The truly vital individuality, however, in so far as it should find its mintage in sculpture by means of the spontaneous and beautiful bodily form, ought not to be asserted merely by such accessories as the external attributes or modes of things we have cited, but should be displayed no less in the form itself than in its expression. In attempting such an individualization the fine insight and creative power of the Greek artist increased in proportion as the figures of their deities possessed a substantive basis of essentially the same kind, from which, without wholly departing from it, it was their task so to elaborate the characteristic individuality that this ground-root of their conception was still maintained as a wholly vital and present fact. Nothing invites our admiration so much in the best works of antique sculpture than the exquisite attention the artist directed to the task of bringing the smallest traits of the presentment and expression into harmony with the entire figure, an attention which is, in fact, the source of such a harmony.

(α) If we inquire further after general distinctions of main importance which assert themselves as the substantive bases in most direct relation to the more individual severation of the bodily forms and their expression we may note, first, the distinction of more youthful figures in contrast to those of more mature age. In the genuine Ideal, as I have already stated, every trait, every particular part of the figure is expressed; and, moreover, the direct line, which is taken straight forward, avoids the abstractly level surface precisely as the circular form avoids the geometrical circle; and instead of this the vital variety of lines and shapes is elaborated in the finest way throughout by the nuances of their transitional forms which unite them. In juvenile and youthful age the boundaries of forms are less noticeably fluent, and pass into each other so finely, that we may compare them, I borrow the simile from Winckelmann[182], with the surface of a sea unruffled by the wind, of which we may say that, although in continuous motion, it is still. In the case of more advanced age, however, such distinguishing features are more definitely emphasized, and have to be elaborated with more pronounced characterization.[Pg 178] Consummate male figures consequently are more likely to please us at the first glance, because the expression is throughout more distinct, and we wonder more readily at the knowledge and ability of the artist. Youthful examples appear more easy in their accomplishment because of their softness, and the smaller number of their distinguishing features. As a matter of fact, however, the opposite is the case. That is to say, in so far as "the forming of their parts in the interval between their first growth and their completion is permitted to be indefinite[183]," the joints, bones, sinews, muscles, are necessarily more delicate and tender, yet are none the less suggested. Antique art celebrates its triumph in just this fact, that even in its most delicate figures all parts throughout and their appropriate organization are somehow made perceptible in barely visible nuances of elevation and depression, by means of which the science and virtuosity of an artist is only followed by an observer whose research and attention is equally thorough. If, for example, to take the case of a delicate human figure, such as the youthful Apollo, the entire structure of the human body were not reproduced actually, and in all its essentials with consummate, if half veiled insight, the members might indeed appear well and fully rounded off, but they would be at the same time flaccid, without expression and variety, so that the entire effect could hardly satisfy. As a striking example of the distinction between the youthful body and a man's in mature age, we may adduce the sons and father in the Laocoon group.

Speaking generally the Greeks, in the representation of their deities, preferred the still youthful age, and even in heads and statues of Zeus and Neptune do not indicate old age.

(β) In the case of the sex, in which the figure is portrayed, the difference, that is, between male and female figures, we meet with a distinctive mark of still more importance. In general we may affirm of the latter what I have already briefly stated in the contrast drawn between the more youthful and more advanced age. The female figures are more tender and soft, the sinews and muscles, albeit they must be there, are less pronounced, the transitional[Pg 179] lines are more flowing and malleable, yet in the wide interval of expression from the point of quiet earnestness, greater severity of power and dignity to that of the most delicate charm and grace of the love attraction, there is room for the richest gradations and variety. We find a wealth of form equally great in the male figures, in the treatment of which we have, moreover, the expression of elaborate bodily strength and courage. The cheerful tone of delight, however, is shared by all, a blithesomeness and blessed indifference, which soars above all particularity, associated not unfrequently with a trait of tranquil sorrow, a kind of smile through tears, in which we neither have wholly smile nor tears.

There is not a marked line of distinction here between the masculine and feminine character, for the more youthful figures of Bacchus and Apollo frequently are fined out to the point of feminine delicacy and softness, nay, we even find representations of Hercules in which there is so much the appearance of a young woman's form that critics have confused him with Iole, his sweetheart. And it is not merely this point of transition but even the combination of the male and female figure, which the ancients have expressly represented in their hermaphrodites.

(γ) Thirdly, and in conclusion, there is the question as to the main distinctions which the figure of sculpture receives in order that it may be classed within one of the specific divisions of subject-matter which constitute the content of the ideal outlook on the world appropriate to this art.

The organic forms which sculpture can utilize generally in its plastic effort are on the one hand the forms of humanity, on the other those of animal life. In respect to the animal forms we have already seen that in the case of the more severe type of the art at its culminating perfection they will only be found as attributes associated with the divine form, as when we find a hind with the hunting Diana, or Zeus with an eagle. And the same thing may be said of the panther, griffin, and similar figures. Apart from the genuine attributes animal forms are, however, accepted partly in combination with human shapes, and in part entirely by themselves. The extent, however, of such representations is of a limited character. Apart from figures of the roebuck it[Pg 180] is above all the horse whose beauty and fiery animation obtains a recognition in plastic art, whether it be in union with the human form, or in its own free and independent shape. In fact, we find that the horse stands generally in a close relation to the courage, bravery, and dexterity of human heroism and heroic beauty, whereas other animals, such as the lion, which Hercules overcomes, and the wild boar, which Meleager kills, are objects of heroic deeds themselves, and consequently are entitled to a place within the circle of representation, when such are expanded in groups and reliefs where a freer field is admissible for situations of movement and action.

The human figure on its part, in so far as it is conceived in form and expression as pure Ideal, supplies the adequate form for the divine, which, being still in union with the sensuous material, is not capable of being concentrated in the simple unity of one God, and can merely embrace a collective whole of divine figures. And similarly, to put the matter conversely, the human, whether we regard it according to its form or its expression, cannot pass out of the province of human individuality, albeit the same is at one time brought into intimacy and union with the divine, and at another with the animal nature.

For these reasons sculpture is faced with various sources out of which it can select and elaborate its subject-matter, and which I will now review. The essentially central source is, as I have already several times indicated, the sphere of the particular gods. Their distinction from humanity pre-eminently consists in this, that as they, in respect to that which they express, appear essentially gathered up over and beyond the finitude of care and mortal passion within a blessed repose and everlasting youth, so, too, their bodily shapes are not merely purified from the finite particularity of mankind, but they are further detached from everything which would suggest the needs and necessary limitations of sensuous life, without, however, losing their vitality. We have, for example, an object of human interest in the way a mother pacifies her child. The Greek goddesses, however, are always represented as childless. Juno, according to the myth, tosses the young Hercules from her, and the Milky Way is the result. To associate a son with the majestic[Pg 181] spouse of Zeus was beneath the dignity of the antique point of view. Even Aphrodite does not appear in sculpture as mother. Cupid is no doubt very near to her, but scarcely in the sense of her child. In the same way Jupiter is nursed by a goat, and Romulus and Remus are suckled by a wolf. Among Egyptian and Hindoo representations, on the contrary, we find many, in which deities receive mother's milk from goddesses. Among Greek goddesses the maiden form is that which is pre-eminent, this being that which to the least extent asserts the purely natural functions of the wife.

The above constitutes an important contrast between classical art and romantic, in the latter of which maternal love is a leading subject. After the gods we find that sculpture deals with heroes and those figures which have both the human and animal form in their composition, such as centaurs, fauns, and satyrs.

The line of distinction between heroes and gods is a very fine one; and much the same interval separates them from ordinary human life. Winckelmann observes with regard to a Battus on a coin of Cyrene, "With a single glance of tender jollity we could make a Bacchus of it, and one trait of god-like greatness would leave us an Apollo." And yet even in such cases human forms, where the object is to envisage the force of the will and bodily strength, tend in certain directions to make for greatness; the artist gave to the muscular development a vital activity and movement, and in violent actions set in motion all the springs of Nature's workmanship. Inasmuch as, however, we find the same hero subject to an entire series of conditions not merely distinct, but opposed to each other, the masculine forms here also frequently approximate to the feminine. This is, for example, the case where Achilles first appears among the maidens of Lycomedes. Here we do not find him in his full heroic strength such as he displays before Troy, but in drapery resembling that of a woman and a fascination of figure which almost conceals his sex. Hercules, too, is not always depicted in the gravity and power suggestive of the tedious labours which he performed, but in the milder impersonation of his service to Omphale, as also in the repose of his deification, and generally in a variety of situations. In other relations heroes possess the closest affinity for the[Pg 182] figures of the deities themselves, Achilles for that of Mars, for instance; it is consequently only after the most profound study that we can recognize the specific meaning of a piece of statuary merely from the characterization without further suggestion from attributes. Really expert connoisseurs can, however, deduce the character and shape of the entire figure from isolated pieces and supply what is missing; from which fact we again are instructed to admire the fine insight and the consequential character the individualization of Greek art displays to us, whose masters knew how to preserve and execute even the smallest detail in consonance with the entire effect.

Coming now to satyrs and fauns we find in them made visible what is throughout excluded from the lofty Ideal of the gods, the needs of mankind, the jollity of life, sensuous pleasure, satisfaction of excessive desire, and the like. Yet we find in particular young satyrs and fauns so remarkable for the beauty in which they are represented by the ancients that, to adopt a phrase of Winckelmann[184], "Every example of such figures may be exchanged, if we except the head, for a statue of Apollo, I refer to that one which is styled Sauroktonos, and possesses the same stansion of the legs." The heads of fauns and satyrs may be known by their pointed ears, their stiffly erected hair, and their little horns.

A second province of sculpture is occupied by what is human simply. In this we have above all else the beauty of human form as we find it set before us in its elaborate power and dexterity in the sacred games. Wrestlers, discoboli, and the like are its main subject-matter. In such productions sculpture proceeds in a way that is somewhat opposed to the mere portrait, in which department the ancients, even in cases where they actually copied real personages, still understood how to hold fast throughout to the principle of sculpture as we have come to know it.

The last field that sculpture makes its own is that of independent animal figures, more particularly lions, hounds, and some others. Here, too, the ancients did not fail to grasp, make vital in its individuality, and enforce the principle of sculpture, the substantive significance of form, and indeed attained to such a perfection that, to take one[Pg 183] example, the cow of Myron has become more famous than all his other works. Goethe, in "Kunst und Alterthum[185]," has described it with great charm of style, and pre-eminently drawn attention to the fact that, as we have already seen, such as animal function as suckling is only presented by Greek art in the entirely animal world. He entirely sets on one side poetical conceits such as we find in ancient epigrams, and with acuteness confines his attention to the naïveté of the conception out of which this most familiar of artistic themes arises.

(c) In concluding this chapter we have now to refer a little more closely to the particular individuals, in the characterization and vitality of which the distinctions above mentioned are elaborated, that is to say, for the most part to the presentment of gods.

(α) However much, speaking generally—and we may no doubt seek to enforce our conviction in reference also to the spiritual deities of sculpture—this spiritual significance is at bottom the emancipation of individuality—and the remark applies to Ideals also according to the degree of their ideality and nobility—to that extent as individuals their distinction from one another is less marked. And the astonishing thing in the problem of sculpture, as solved by the Greeks, consisted just in this, that despite of the universality and ideality of their gods they have none the less preserved their individuality and lines of distinction; they have done so despite the fact that in certain directions we are conscious of the endeavour to eliminate hard-and-fast boundaries and to depict particular forms in their transitional state. If, moreover, we are inclined to regard individuality in a way that suggests definite traits as being appropriate to definite deities, much as the traits of a portrait are so, a fixed type will thereby necessarily appear to be substituted for a vital creation and art will suffer accordingly. But this is quite as little in accordance with the facts. On the contrary we find that their invention in such individualization and vitalization gained in subtlety just in proportion as a substantive type lay at the roots of the same.

(β) Again, in considering the particular deities, we are inevitably led to the conviction that one individual is of commanding[Pg 184] influence in determining all these ideal figures. This supreme value and dignity Pheidias attached in an unrivalled degree to the form and expression of his Zeus, albeit the father of the gods and mankind, is set before us at the same time with a blithe and benignant look throned in serenity of mature age, that is not in the first flush of youth, without, however, on the other hand emphasizing in the least any harshness of form or suggesting the feebleness of age. The most obvious parallels in form and gesture with Zeus are his brothers Neptune and Pluto, whose interesting statues in Dresden, for example, despite all that they share with him, nevertheless retain a clear line of distinction—Zeus himself, by virtue of the benignity of his lofty presence, Neptune, by virtue of his greater ruggedness, Pluto, who is a kindred type to the Egyptian Serapis, by virtue of his profounder gloom and melancholy.

Essentially more apart from Zeus are Bacchus and Apollo, Mars and Mercury, the first pair in their more youthful beauty and the greater delicacy of their figures, the second more masculine albeit beardless. Mercury, too, is more robust, more slender in shape, with exceptional fineness noticeable in the facial traits. Mars is not so much marked out from the others as Hercules might be in the strength of his muscles and other parts of his figure, but rather as a more youthful and beautiful hero of an ideal form.

Among the goddesses I will only refer to Juno, Pallas, Diana, and Aphrodite.

Just as Zeus among the masculine deities, so, too, Juno among the feminine displays in her figure and its expression the greatest dignity. The large circular-arched eyes are proud and commanding, in like manner, too, the mouth by which she is at once recognized more particularly in profile. Generally she presents the appearance of "a queen, who will rule, is to be revered and must awaken devotion[186]." Pallas, on the contrary, receives the expression of more austere maidenhood and chastity. Tenderness, love, and every kind of womanly weakness are kept away from her; her eyes are less expanded than those of Here, less emphatically arched and somewhat downcast in the tranquillity of reflection, just as her head is, which is not proudly erect as in the[Pg 185] case of the spouse of Zeus, although it is armed with a helmet. A very similar type of maidenhood characterizes the figure of Diana. She is, however, endowed with a more fascinating quality, more lightly poised, more slender, albeit there is no self-conscious delight in her charm. She is not given the pose of tranquil observation, but is generally in motion, pressing forward as toward some object in her vision.

Finally we have Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty as such, who is, along with the Graces and the Hours, alone depicted by the Greek artists as undraped and even here subject to exceptions. In her case nudity is justified on the good ground that she expresses, above all, sensuous beauty and its conquest, grace, attractiveness, tenderness, elevated and tempered by spiritual qualities. Her eye, even in cases where a more grave and lofty expression is emphasized, is smaller than that of Pallas and Juno, not so much in length, but narrower by reason of the lower eyelid being slightly raised, by which means Love's yearning look is admirably expressed. She varies, however, very considerably in the type expressed. In some cases her pose is more serious and powerful; in others delicacy and tenderness are most insisted upon; her age, too, is sometimes that of maidenhood, at other of riper years. Winckelmann compares the Medicean Venus to a rose which blossoms in the fair light of its own colour at daybreak. Uranian Aphrodite is, on the contrary, indicated by a diadem which resembles that worn by Juno, and which Venus victrix also wears.

(γ) The discovery of this plastic individuality, whose entire expression is wholly elaborated through abstract form and nothing further, was in a like degree of consummate perfection peculiar to the Greeks and is due to religion itself. A more spiritual religion can rest satisfied with the contemplation and devotion of the soul, so that works of sculpture pass for it simply as so much luxury and superfluity. A religion so dependent on the sense vision as the Greek was must necessarily continue to create, inasmuch as for it this artistic production and invention is itself a religious activity and satisfaction, and for the people the sight of such works is not merely so much sight-seeing, but is part of their religion and soul-life. And in general the Greeks did[Pg 186] everything with a public and universal aim in view, in which every man discovered his enjoyment, pride, and honour. In this public aspect the art of the Greeks is not merely an ornamental object, but a vital thing that meets a really felt want, in much the same sort of way as that of painting in its most glorious season responded to the life of Venice. Only on grounds such as these can we find a rational explanation, if we consider the great difficulties which the technique of sculpture implies, for the host of sculptured figures, this forest of statues of every kind, which in their thousand and indeed thousands, were to be met with in one single city, in Elis, in Athens, in Corinth, and even in towns of lesser importance, and in the same way in the greater Greece beyond and the islands of the Cyclades.

[Pg 187]



We have hitherto in our inquiry in the first instance looked about us for the general determinants, out of which it is possible to develop the most adequate content for sculpture and the form which best responds to it. We discovered the classical Ideal supplied this content, so that in the second place we were called to establish the precise mode, in which sculpture among the particular arts is most readily adapted to give shape to this Ideal. Inasmuch as we found, moreover, that this Ideal is only to be comprehended in its essential import as individuality, not only did we find that the ideal outlook of the artist expand to a collective cyclus of ideal figures, but the external mode of representation and execution in actual works of art breaks up into particular types of sculpture. In this latter direction we have still several points of view left us to discuss as follows:

First, there is the manner of representation, which, in so far as actual execution is concerned, either creates single statues, or groups, until finally in the relief we are confronted with the step of transition to painting.

Secondly, there is the external medium, in which these distinctions are given actual effect to.

Thirdly, we have to deal with the historical stages of evolution, or the process within which works of art are executed in the various types and material.


Just as, in the case of architecture, we made an essential distinction between independent building and that which was subservient we may also here establish a similar dividing[Pg 188] line in sculpture, that is between such works that have an independent position and those which rather contribute to architectural decoration. In the case of the first the environment is nothing more than an artificially prepared locality, whereas in the latter cases their relation to the building which they adorn is of the first importance, and does not merely determine the form of the work of sculpture, but in a large measure even its content. Speaking in a summary way we may assert in this respect that single statues are set up on their own account, while groups and a fortiori reliefs tend to lose this independence and are utilized by architecture for its own artistic purposes.

(a) As to the single statue their original function is that of sculpture generally, that is to supply temple images as they are set up in the shrine of the temple, and all that surrounds them is in direct association with them.

(α) In such a case sculpture retains its most adequate purity. It displays the figure of the god apart from all situation, in beautiful, unimpaired, and inactive tranquillity, or at least free, unmolested, without definite action and development, such as I have on several occasions depicted, that is, in unconstrained situations.

(β) The earliest departure from this austere loftiness consists in this that the entire pose suggests the beginning of an action, or the conclusion of the same, without the god-like repose being thereby disturbed, or the figure being presented as in struggle or conflict. We place under this type the famous Medicean Venus and the Belvedere Apollo. In the times of Lessing and Winckelmann the admiration of the critical world over these statues, as the highest Ideal of art, was unconditional; nowadays, since we have come to know works more vital and substantial in their configuration, and more profound in their expressive power, we must deduct somewhat from this estimate; critics, in fact, place them in an age somewhat subsequent to the great period, an age in which the smoothness of their elaborate workmanship already suggests that to please is the main object, and the genuine grand and severe style is not persisted in. An English traveller goes so far as to say that the Apollo is "a theatrical coxcomb," and while admitting that the Venus has extraordinary softness, sweetness, symmetry, and coy[Pg 189] grace, yet only finds in this a spiritual quality that is wanting in much, a negative perfection, and—a good deal of insipidity. We may generally review that transition from the former more severe repose and holiness as follows. Sculpture is no doubt the art of lofty seriousness, but this elevated austerity of the gods, inasmuch as the same are no abstractions, but individual figures, brings with it the absolute blithesomeness, and thereby a reflex attitude to reality and finite life, in which the blithesomeness of the gods does not express the feeling of absorption in such finite content, but the feeling of reconciliation, of spiritual freedom and alertness.

(γ) In consequence of this Greek art is throughout permeated with all the blithesomeness of the Greek genius, and has found its satisfaction, delight, and an object for its activity in a countless number of gratifying situations. When it once had discovered a way from the constraint of the abstractions of its presentment to an appreciation of vital individuality, which is the unifying factor of the whole, its joy in all that is indicative of life and cheerfulness became a real thing, and artists became occupied with a great variety of subjects, which, without glancing aside at anything suggestive of pain, horror, distortion or injurious, fixed as its final limit unoffensive humanity and remained thus. The ancients have in this respect executed much of the greatest excellence. I will here only mention, among the many mythological subjects of playful, that is playful in the most innocent way, interest, the sports of Cupid, in which we already see a close approach to the ordinary life of mankind, just as there were others in which the vitality of the presentment is the main interest, and indeed the very attempt to secure and execute such subject-matter itself contributes this blithesomeness and innocence to the effect. In this kind of way we may point out that the dice-players and satellite of Polycleitus were thought quite as highly of as his Argive statue of Here. The discus-throwers and racers of Myron were equally famous. How dear to this folk, too, and admired is that youth in a seated posture who extracts a thorn from his foot? There were many others of the same type of production in great measure merely by name. We are face to face with the fleeting moment of[Pg 190] natural existence, which is here arrested for ever by the sculptor.

(b) Beginning with examples such as the above of a movement towards external objects, sculpture proceeds further in the representation of situations, conflicts, and actions yet more involved with motion, and at last arrives at the group. For with an increase of specific detail in the action we have placed before us the more concrete animation, which expands in contradiction, reactions, and thereby, too, in the presence of several figures essentially related and intertwined with each other.

(α) At first we have, however, merely tranquil juxtapositions, such as, for example, the two colossal horse-tamers, which are set up in Rome on Mount Cavallo, and indicate Castor and Pollux. The one statue is commonly ascribed to Pheidias, the other to Praxiteles. There is, however, no strong evidence for this, although the extraordinary excellence of conception, and the no less exquisite thoroughness of the execution justifies names as famous. Such are entirely independent groups, which as yet express no real action, or the result of it, and are wholly appropriate as representations of sculpture and public exposition before the Parthenon, where it appears they were originally placed.

(β) Sculpture, however, is equally occupied in the group with the presentment of situations, which have as their content conflicts, discordant actions, pain, and other similar conditions. In this direction, too, we can only speak highly of the genuine artistic insight of the Greeks, which did not set forth such groups independently, and by themselves, but brought them, for the reason that sculpture has already made a departure from its peculiar, that is to say its self-subsistent, province, into closer relation to architecture. The temple figure, that is the isolated statue, stood in unimpaired tranquillity and sacredness within the inner shrine. The external pediment, on the contrary, was decorated with groups which represented definite actions of the god, and consequently admitted of more animated movement in its elaboration. The famous group of Niobe and her children is of this type. The general form for the co-ordination of each part is determined by the space which the group in question had to fill. The principal figure stood in the[Pg 191] middle, and was thus able to be the largest in size and most prominent. The rest according as they were placed in the direction of the acute angle of the gable-end had to submit to other postures, the limit being reached by that of a reclining figure.

Of other famous works I will here only mention the Laocoon group. It has now for over forty years been the object of much inquiry and controversy. In particular it has been regarded as a matter of real importance, whether Virgil in his description followed this work of sculpture, or the sculptor adopted his work to the scene depicted by Virgil, whether Laocoon here is actually crying out, and whether it is appropriate in a work of sculpture to attempt to express such a cry, and many more criticisms of this kind. Critics have worried themselves up and down with such matters of psychological interest for the simple reason that they have not as yet secured the sort of enthusiasm and critical acumen which Winckelmann possessed; and, moreover, arm-chair professors are more readily disposed for such investigations for the reason that not unfrequently they have neither the opportunity granted them to see real works of art, nor the capacity to grasp them for what they are when they do so. The most essential thing which can occupy our attention in this group is this namely, that in the supreme pain, the supreme truth, the convulsive tension of the body, the distention of all the muscles, the noble aspect of beauty is still preserved, and the process has not been carried in the remotest degree to the extremes of grimace, distortion, and over-strain. Despite of this, however, the entire work belongs without doubt—we have only to consider its subject-matter, the artificiality of its co-ordinate grouping, the disposition of each posed figure and the type of its elaboration—to a much later period, which already seeks to pass beyond simple beauty and vitality by means of a deliberate obtrusion of science in the configuration and muscular development of the human body, and no less is anxious to please by refined excess in its executive elaboration. The step from the ingenuous ease and greatness of art to a mere mannerism is already taken.

(γ) Works of sculpture may be set forth in very various places, such as in the entrances to columned halls, forecourts,[Pg 192] landings of staircases, niches, and so forth. It is just in this variety of local position and architectural setting, which, on its account too, is variously related to human circumstances and conditions, that the content and object of such works of art are for ever changing, approaching as such art does in the group yet more closely our humanity. It is, however, a serious defect to place groups that embody much movement and variety of figure on the top of a building without further background against the sky. In other words the colour of the sky may sometimes be gray, at others blue and dazzlingly bright, so that it is impossible to see the outlines of the figures. Yet these outlines, that is, the silhouette we find in them, is just what is most important; it is the main thing which we recognize, and which simply makes the rest intelligible. For in the case of a group we find that many portions stand in front relatively to others, an arm before the trunk of the body, or one leg in front of another. Now the fact of distance alone disturbs the clearness and intelligible articulation of such parts, or at least tends to do this more emphatically than in the case of outlined portions which are independent. We have only to imagine a group depicted on a piece of paper in which certain parts of a figure are strongly and sharply indicated, while others on the contrary are marked with lines of less defined and arresting definition. This is precisely the effect of a statue's lines, and yet more those of groups, which have no other background but that of the sky; in the latter case we only see a sharply indicated silhouette, in which, so far as what is within the compass of that outline, only relatively weaker articulation is visible.

This is the reason that, to take an example near home, the Victory on the Brandenburg gate in Berlin not only affects us strongly by virtue of its simplicity and repose, but can be readily followed through its separate figures. The horses, in fact, stand far from each other, without either of them impairing the view of the other; and similarly the figure of Victory rises sufficiently high above them. Conversely the Apollo drawn in a car by griffins, which we have on the Opera House, is less satisfactory from this point of view, however artistic the entire conception and technical work may be in other respects. By the favour of a friend I[Pg 193] saw these figures before they were taken from the workshop. The effect promised was noble. But as we see them now at such a height, we have far too much of one outline partly obscuring another, which in its turn is backed by something else, and consequently is less freely and clearly silhouetted than would be the case were all the figures silhouetted in their simple outlines[187]. The griffins, which necessarily, on account of their shorter legs, do not stand up either so highly or so freely as horses, have wings into the bargain, and Apollo, too, has his tuft of hair and his lyre. All this detail is too much for the position, and only tends to make the outlines obscure.

(c) The final mode of representation, in which sculpture makes an important step in the direction of the principle of painting is the relief; in the first instance the high-relief, and after it the low-relief. The condition here is the surface, the figures standing on one and the same plane, so that the spatial totality of the figure, which is the point of departure of sculpture, more and more tends to disappear. The older form of relief, however, does not as yet approximate so closely to painting, which involves distinctions of perspective between the foreground and background, but rather holds fast to the surface or plane as such without permitting the different objects to project into or to retire within the distinctions of their spatial position by means of an artificial reduction of size. In the present case figures in profile are preferred, and they are placed side by side on an even surface. A simple treatment of this kind does not admit the content of complicated actions, but actions which in real life already adopt more or less of one and the same line of motion, processions of all kinds, whether those of sacrifice or Olympian victors or others. Add to this the relief is capable of the greatest variety of form. It not only fills up and decorates the friezes and walls of temples, but is attached to utensils of all kinds, sacrificial bowls, votive gifts, shells, goblets, urns, lamps, and so forth; it is the adornment of seats and tripods, and is closely allied to the skilled crafts.[Pg 194] Here as nowhere else the ingenuity of invention receives the fullest scope in every kind of form and combination, and is no longer in position to retain the true object of independent sculpture.


We have, by our acceptance of the principle of individuality, which is fundamental to sculpture, been compelled not merely to emphasize in separation the different provinces of the divine, human and natural, from which plastic art accepts its subject-matter, but also to classify the several modes of presentation in the single statue, group, or relief. In the same way we have to discover a like variety of division in the material which the artist can make use of in his works. For different kinds of content and mode of presentation are more particularly congenial to different kinds of sensuous material, and betray a secret attraction to and affinity with such.

By way of generalization I will merely here permit myself the remark that the ancients, in addition to the extraordinary excellence of their invention, equally excite our astonishment by reason of the amazing elaboration and versatility of their technical accomplishment. Both aspects present an equal difficulty in sculpture, because the means at hand here for such presentation are without the ideal many-sidedness, which is at the disposal of the other arts. Architecture is no doubt poorer still in this respect; but it is not her province to embody spirit in its vitality, or what is actually alive in Nature in a material which is by itself wholly inorganic. This elaborate dexterity in the absolutely consummate treatment of pure material is, however, bound up with the notion of the Ideal itself, for its very principle is a complete entrance into the sensuous concreteness and the blending together of the Ideal with its external mode of existence. The same principle is therefore once again asserted, where the Ideal attains its executed form and realization. In this respect we have no reason to wonder, when it is asserted that artists, in periods distinguished by great executive ability, either executed their works of marble in clay without models, or, if[Pg 195] they had recourse to them, set about their work in a much freer and unconstrained manner than is the case in our own times, where, to put the fact bluntly, it only makes copies which are now executed in marble after originals carried out in the clay[188]. The old artists retained in fact the vital enthusiasm, which is always to a more or less extent lost in the case of copies and replicas, although it is undeniable that now and again we meet with defective work in famous masterpieces, as, for example, eyes that are not of the same size, ears one of which is placed lower than the other, feet that are of unequal length and others of the same kind. They did not lay so much stress on the absolute precision of the compass in such things as ordinary production and art criticism, that mediocrity of talent which imagines itself so profound, is wont to do; and it can do little else.

(a) Among the different materials in which sculptors have executed images of gods, wood is one of the most ancient. A trunk, a post at the top of which a head can be indicated, such was the beginning. Among the earliest examples of the temple image many are of wood, but the material was also used even in the days of Pheidias. The colossal Minerva of Pheidias at Plataea was mainly carved from wood which was gilded, the head, hands, and feet being of marble[189]; Myron, too[190], executed a Hecate out of wood here with only one head and body, and no doubt for Aegina, where Hecate was most revered and a festival took place annually in her honour, a festival which the Aeginetans maintained the Thracian Orpheus had inaugurated for them.

Generally speaking, wood, when it is not covered over with gilding or some other precious material, by reason of its texture and the grain of it, appears too fine a material for works of importance and more appropriate to smaller figures, for which purpose it was frequently used in the Middle Ages, and is still thus utilized nowadays.

(b) Other materials of most importance are ivory, associated with gold, founded bronze and marble.

(α) As is well known, Pheidias employed ivory and gold for his masterpieces, such as his Olympian Zeus, and also[Pg 196] for his famous colossal Athene in the Acropolis of Athens, who carried on her hand an image of Victory, itself being larger than life-size. The nude portions of the body were made out of sheets of ivory, the drapery and mantle from gold plates, which could be removed. This type of workmanship in yellowish ivory and gold dates from a period in which statues were coloured, a kind of representation which steadily approximated to the one colour tone of bronze and marble. Ivory is an extremely pure material, smooth and without the granular character of marble, and, moreover, costly. And among the Athenians the costliness of the statues of their gods was itself of importance. The Pallas at Plataea had merely a superficial gilding, that at Athens solid metal plates. The statues had to be both of colossal size and of the richest material. Quatremère de Quincy has written a masterly work upon these works, upon the "toreutic" of the ancients. "Toreutic"—τορεύειν, τόρευμα—is primarily applicable to figures whose lines are brought out by engraving in metal, or cutting of some kind such as cut stones; one uses the expression, however, to indicate entire works or parts of entire works in metal, which are executed by means of moulds and the founder's art, that is, not by means of engraving, then, still more remotely from the original meaning, of superb figures on earthenware utensils, and finally in the widest sense of mouldings[191] on bronze. Quatremère's researches have particularly been directed to the technical aspect of the execution; he calculates what must have been the size of the plates made of elephants' tusks, and, among other things, how much space, in proportion to the gigantic dimensions of the figure, they would leave covered. From another point of view he is equally concerned to reproduce for us from the sketches, or other evidence[192] we possess from antiquity, a drawing of the seated figure of Zeus, and, most of all, the great chair with its rich decorations of bas-reliefs, and by so doing to give us in every respect some conception of the splendour and perfection of the work.

In the Middle Ages ivory is mainly used for smaller works[Pg 197] of very varied character, such as Christ on the Cross and the Virgin Mary, or yet again for drinking vessels with scenes of hunting and the like, in which cases ivory, on account of its smoothness and hardness, is in many respects preferable to wood.

(β) The material which was most favoured and most widely employed by the ancients was bronze, in the casting of which it attained a success of the highest mastery. Preeminently during the period of Myron and Polycletus it was the prevailing material utilized in statues of deities and other kinds of sculpture. The darker, less defined colour, the sheen, the smoothness of bronze generally, has not reached the abstract formality of the white marble, and it is at the same time warmed. The bronze which the ancients used was partly gold and silver, partly copper, varying considerably in the degrees of its component parts. The so-called bronze of Corinth is, for example, a composition unique of its kind which originated after the burning of Corinth from the almost incredible wealth of this city in statues and vessels of bronze. Mummius had many statues carried off on his ships; and the excellent man was so full of anxiety for their safe deliverance in Rome that he informed the captain that in case of loss he must recreate the same exactly or suffer, such was the threat, heavy punishment. In the founding of bronze the ancients attained an incredible mastery, by aid of which it was possible to them to cast it securely despite its extreme thinness. It is possible to regard such a feat as merely a matter of technical dexterity which is unconnected with true art. Every artist, however, works upon a certain material, and it is an essential quality of genius to be complete master of the same. Dexterity and adaptability in matters which concern the technique and instruments of its work constitute one distinct aspect of genius. On account of this virtuosity in the founder's art a work of sculpture in this medium involved a less expensive process, and was in the reach of a larger number than the chiselling out of marble statues. A second advantage, which the ancients were able to attain in casting their work in bronze, was the purity thereby acquired, which they carried so far that their bronze statues did not require further enchasening, and consequently lost nothing of the finer marks[Pg 198] of expression, which is almost inevitable where such a process is necessary. If we consider, then, the extraordinary number of works of art, which originated in this facility and mastery over technical matters, we cannot fail to be astonished and admit that the artistic sense for sculpture is a distinctive impulse and instinct of spirit, which can only, that is, in so overwhelming a degree, appear in one period and one people. In the whole of the Prussian State, for example, at the present time we can easily reckon up the number of bronze statues, the single bronze door of a church we find in Gnesen, and, with the exception of the standing figures of Blücher at Berlin and Breslau, and Luther at Wittenburg, we have merely a few more in Königsberg and Düsseldorf[193].

The very various tone and the infinite adaptability to form and fusibility of this material, which may accommodate itself to every kind of representation, gives to sculpture the pass into every conceivable variety of production, and makes its sensitive material suitable for a host of conceits, prettinesses, utensils, ornaments, and innocent trifles of all kinds. Marble, on the other hand, is limited in its suitability for the depicting of objects and their size; it is, for instance, possible to execute bas-reliefs in it of a certain size on urns and vases. It is, however, unsuitable for smaller objects. In the case of bronze, however, which is not merely cast into specific forms, but can also be beaten into shape and informed by the engraver's tools, there is hardly any type or size of representation which it does not command. We may here, by way of more definite example, instance the case of coinage minting. In this art, too, we find that the ancients executed masterworks of beauty, albeit in the technical aspect of the mere mintage[194] they stand as yet far behind our present elaboration of all that is mechanical in the design. The coins in fact were not really minted, but beaten but of pieces of metal closely resembling a globular form. This department of the art attained its culmination in the time of Alexander. The coins of the Roman Empire have already deteriorated. In our own time Napoleon endeavoured to revive the beauty of antique work in his medals and[Pg 199] coinage, and they are of great excellence. In other states, however, the mere worth of the metal and accurate weight is mainly important in the mintage of coin.

(γ) The last kind of material exceptionally favourable to sculpture is stone, which possesses independently the external aspect of consistency and permanence. The Egyptians long before chiselled out their sculptured colossi with a labour that spared no pains from the hardest granite, syenite and basalt. Marble is, however, most directly, as a material, in harmony with the aims of sculpture through its soft purity, whiteness, no less than by the absence of definite colour and the mildness of its sheen, and in particular possesses, by virtue of its granular texture and the soft interfusion of light which it carries, a great advantage over the chalk-like dead whiteness of gypsum, which is too bright, and easily kills with its glare the finer shadows. We find a distinct preference given to marble, only at a later epoch of the Greek school, that is during the period of Praxiteles and Scopas, who executed their most famous works in marble. Pheidias no doubt worked in marble, but for the most part only in the execution of head, hands, and feet. Myron and Polycletus mainly made use of bronze. Praxiteles and Scopas, on the other hand, appear to have sought to remove from sculpture that feature which is alien to its main principle, namely colour. No doubt it is undeniable that the beauty of the ideal of sculpture is capable of being embodied in bronze as in marble, with no diminution whatever of its purity. When, however, as was the case with Praxiteles and Scopas, art begins to approach the softer forms of grace and charm of figure, the marble asserts itself as the more congenial medium. For marble "encourages, by virtue of the transparency of its surface, a softness of outline, its gentle articulation[195] and mild conjunction; add to this that the tender and artificial elaboration of consummate work always appears more clearly on the soft whiteness of stone than on bronze, however noble it may be, which, in proportion as the transition of green is beautifully gradated, makes the lustres and the reflections all the more disturbing to the[Pg 200] effect of repose[196]." For the same reason the careful attention, which at this period was paid to effects of light and shade, whose nuances and gradations are more clearly marked by marble than by bronze, was a further reason why stone should be preferred to metal.

(c) In conclusion we ought to associate with the above more important kinds of material precious stones and glass.

The ancient gems, cameos and pastes are invaluable. They repeat in fact on the smallest scale, yet with consummate finish, the entire survey of sculpture, from the simple figure of a god, through all the varied forms of grouping to every possible kind of conceit in dainty delight and prettiness. Winckelmann, however, observes with regard to the Stosch collection[197]: "It was while looking at this that I was made aware of a truth, which afterwards became to me of great value in elucidating monuments, very difficult to understand; and the truth is this, that on cut stones, no less than on imposing works of sculpture, we very rarely come across events which took place after the Trojan war, or after the return of Odysseus to Ithaca, if we only except the one case of the Heracleidae and the descendants of Hercules; for in this latter case the limits of history and fable still overlap, and fable is the main subject of these artists. Only one example of the tale of the Heracleidae, however, is known to me personally." As for gems, the genuine and most consummately executed figures are of the greatest beauty, fine as the work of organic Nature, and may be inspected through a magnifying glass without any loss to the purity of their delineation. I refer to this fact in proof that the technique of art in such cases is almost an art of intuition; the fineness is such that the artist is unable as the sculptor is to follow the work with his eyes, but is rather compelled to feel after it. He holds the stone which is made fast on wax against tiny sharp wheels which are made to spin by means of a flying-wheel, and in this way cuts out the forms. By this process what we have is a kind of instinctive sense, which takes in and directs so consummately the conception, the intention of line and drawing, that we can almost fancy ourselves to have before us in these stones, when one sees them properly illuminated, a relief work.

[Pg 201]

The work on cameos is to be contrasted with the above. These represent figures finely cut in out of the stone. The onyx was particularly utilized as material for this kind of work. In dealing with these, the ancients were expert in setting off to advantage and with taste the various strata, in particular the white and yellow-brown. Aemilius Paulus had a number of such stones and other trinkets carried to Rome.

In the representations which were depicted upon all this varied material the Greek artists adapted as the basis of their work no situations which were poetically conceived by themselves, but selected their subject-matter invariably, if we only except examples of Bacchanals and dances, from myths about the gods and sagas. Even in the case of urns and representations of events relative to deceased persons they had definite facts before them, which were associated with the individual, whom it was thought right to honour by reason of his decease. The direct allegory, in fact, does not belong to the genuine Ideal, but only becomes perspicuous in art's later development.


We have hitherto regarded sculpture as the most adequate expression of the classical Ideal. The Ideal, however, has not merely an intrinsic forward development on its own account, by virtue of which it approximates to that which it is in virtue of its notion, and by doing so equally begins a forward movement beyond this absolute harmony with its own essential nature. Quite apart from this, as we have already seen in the second main division of this work during our review of the particular types of art as a process, it contains, putting on one side its mode of presentation under the symbolical type, a certain aspect pre-supposed, which it is bound to pass beyond in order generally to establish itself as Ideal, and moreover a further type of art, that is the romantic, from which it will once more pass away. Both types of art, the symbolical no less than the romantic, likewise seize upon the human figure as an element of their presentment, whose spatial outlines they adhere to, and[Pg 202] consequently set forth as sculpture sets them forth. We have, therefore, when it is a question of drawing attention to the historical-development, not only to speak of Greek and Roman sculpture, but also Oriental and Christian. It was, however, the Egyptian people pre-eminently among all, among whom the symbolical type sums up the fundamental character of their art-production, who first began to associate with their deities the human figure as it emerges from a mode of existence that is purely natural, and for this reason it is mainly among them that we meet too with sculpture, inasmuch as they gave as a rule to their general outlook an artistic existence in that which was simply material. The sculpture of Christianity is of wider range and richer development. We do not merely refer here to its uniquely romantic character in the Middle Ages, but also to that further elaboration, in which we find it made an effort once again to approach more closely the principle of the classical Ideal, and establish that type most specifically consonant with sculpture.

I will in concluding the present section of my work in its entirety, and following the above general observations, add a few words, first, upon Egyptian sculpture as contrasted with the Greek as the introductory stage of the true Ideal.

The characteristic elaboration of Greek sculpture makes our second stage, which closes with Roman sculpture. On the present occasion what will mainly concern us will be to survey the stage which precedes the really ideal mode of presentation, because we have already in our second chapter considered at length ideal sculpture.

Thirdly, we have merely left us to indicate briefly the principle of Christian sculpture. I can only undertake in this place to refer to it in the most general terms.

(a) When we have the intention to investigate on the soil of Greece the classical art of sculpture from the historical standpoint, we find ourselves already confronted with Egyptian art in the form of sculpture before we have arrived at our object; and we must add not merely is this so in regard to great works which bear witness to the highest technique and elaboration in an entirely unique artistic style, but as the point of departure and source for the forms of Greek plastic art. That this last result on the ground of[Pg 203] historical fact amounts also to an external contact, an acceptance and an instruction to which Greek artists submitted, this must be left to the history of art to establish, whether it be in reference to the significance of figures of deities represented from the field of mythology, or to the particular methods of artistic treatment. The association between Greek and Egyptian ideas of the gods is a conviction set forth with proofs by Herodotus. Creuzer is of the view that we find this external association of these arts most clearly demonstrated on coins, and he lays exceptional stress on ancient Attic examples. He has showed me one in his own possession in which without question the face, a profile possessed quite the outline of the physiognomy of Egyptian figures in every respect[198]. We must, however, here leave this purely historical aspect to stand on its own merits, and confine ourselves to the inquiry whether apart from it a more ideal and necessary bond of connection cannot be established. This bond of intrinsic causality we have already adverted to above. It is necessary that the art which is incomplete must precede the complete form of art, the Ideal, by means of the negation of which, that is by the stripping off of that aspect which adheres to it as a defect, the Ideal is first realized. In this respect unquestionably classical art is a becoming or a process, which, however, apart from it must necessarily possess an independent existence, inasmuch as quâ classical it must leave all deficiency, all the mere becoming behind it, and be essentially rounded in "completion." This process as such consists in this, that the form of the presentation first begins to run counter to the Ideal, and yet remains incapable of an ideal grasp, belonging as it does to the symbolical synthesis, which is unable to embody in union the universal aspect of the significance, and the individual embodiment as it appears to sense. That Egyptian sculpture possesses such a fundamental character, is the single point that I will now briefly touch upon.

(α) The primary fact that calls for attention is the deficiency we find here in ideal and creative spontaneity, despite the greatest technical perfection. The source of works of Greek sculpture is the vitality and freedom of the imagination, which builds up individual figures from the religious[Pg 204] ideas which are prevalent, and in the individuality of this its production makes an actual fact of its own ideal outlook and classical perfection. The Egyptian figures of deities, on the contrary, receive an inherited[199] type. As Plato long ago observes[200], the representations were long before fixed by the priestly caste, and it was neither permitted to painter nor any master of sculpture to introduce novelty, nor indeed to invent anything at all, but to accept instead what was already among them and traditional; neither is such permission conceded now. We consequently find that what was made and fashioned, it may be myriads of years before (to allow oneself a hyperbolical expression for the great number that is actual verity), is neither more beautiful nor more ugly than the work of to-day. The circumstance must also be associated with this scholastic accuracy, that in Egypt, as appears clear from Herodotus[201], artists did not enjoy the same respect as other citizens, but were forced with their children to defer to all who were not engaged in artistic work. Add to this art among the people was not followed according to natural inclination; the institution of caste was paramount, and the son walked after his father, not merely in the matter of profession, but also in the way in which he made himself efficient in his duties and his art. One man simply placed his feet in the steps of another, so that, as Winckelmann has already observed[202], "Not a soul appears to have left behind him a footmark, which he can appropriate as his own." Consequently art, when fully confronted with this enforced serfdom of Spirit—in conjunction with which the mobility of free and artistic genius, in other words, not the mere impulse after external honour and reward, but the more elevated impulse to be artist, is banished—maintained itself simply as the mere craftsman working in a purely mechanical and abstract way according to forms and rules ready to hand, rather than with the vision of the artist of his own individuality in his work, viewed in this way as his own unique creation.

(β) Coming now in the second place to the actual[Pg 205] works of art, here, too, we may borrow from Winckelmann, whose descriptions attest once more his exceptional acuteness of observation and distinction, and whose account of the character of Egyptian sculpture is in its main lines as follows[203].

Speaking generally we may say that both grace and vitality, which are the result of the genuine sweep and balance of organic line, are absent from the entire figure and its detailed parts; the outlines are straight or in lines that show less deviation from it, the pose appears constrained and stiff, the feet are thrust close together, and in cases of figures in the upright position where one foot is placed before the other, both point in the same direction instead of having the toes turned outwards. In the same way, in masculine figures, the arms hang down straight and glued to the body. Further, the hands, such is Winckelmann's view, are shaped much as we find them in men who possess hands not badly shaped originally, but deteriorated and neglected; feet, on the other hand, are too flat and spread out, the toes are of equal length and the little toe is neither crooked nor curved inwards: in other respects hands, nails, and toes are not badly shaped, although neither the joints of fingers nor toes are indicated. And similarly we may say of all the rest of the nude figure the muscles and bones are but slightly indicated, and the nerves and veins not at all. In short, so far as detail is concerned, despite the laborious and able execution, just that aspect of the elaboration is absent which alone communicates to the figure its true animation and vitality. The knees, however, bones, and elbows are traceable in relief, as we find them in Nature. Masculine figures are conspicuous for their exceptionally narrow waist above the hips. The backs of figures, on account of their position against columns and their being sculptured from one block with them, are not visible.

Together with this lack of mobility, which is not entirely due to the technical inferiority of the artists, but must be regarded as a result of their primitive conception of the figures of deities and their mysterious repose, is nearly associated the absence of any true situation and any sort or kind of action, which are asserted in sculpture by means of[Pg 206] the position and motion of the hands and the demeanour and expression of delineation. No doubt we do find among Egyptian representations on obelisks and walls many figures in movement, but these are purely reliefs and are for the most part painted.

To add a few more examples of even more intimate detail, the eyes are not deeply set as in the Greek ideal, but are almost on a level with the forehead; they are flattened and extended obliquely. The eye-brows, eyelids, and rims of the lips are mainly suggested by the graver's lines, or the brows are indicated by a stroke in relief, which extends as far as the temples and is at that point cut off angular wise. What we above all find wanting here is the projection of the forehead, and along with this, together with uncommonly high placed ears and arched noses, as is the rule with vulgar natures, we have the retreating form of cheekbones, which in contrast to other parts are strongly indicated and emphasized, whereas the chin is always retiring and small; the rigidly closed mouth, too, draws its corners in an outward rather than an under-ward direction, and the lips appear to be separated from each other by a mere slit. Speaking generally, then, such figures are not only wanting in freedom and vitality, but more than anything else the head fails to show us the expression of spiritual significance; the animal aspect is the prevailing one, and Spirit is not as yet suffered to appear in its self-poise and independence.

The execution of animal figures is, on the contrary, according to the same authority, carried through with much knowledge and an exquisite variety of gently gradated outlines and of parts that flow one into the other without a break. And if in the human figures spiritual life is not as yet liberated from the animal type and the interfusion of the Ideal with what is sensuous and of Nature on a new and free model is absent, yet we find here that the specifically symbolical significance of the human no less than the animal figures is directly expressed by means of sculpture in these embodiments of forms, in which human and animal shapes pass into one mysterious union.

(γ) Consequently the works of art, which carry on their face this character, remain at the stage where the breach between significance and form is not yet bridged over. For[Pg 207] such a stage significance is still of main importance, and what is aimed at is rather the conception of that in its general aspect, than the vitalization of any one individual figure and the artistic enjoyment derived from such presentment. Sculpture proceeds here from the genius of an entire people, about which we may on the one hand affirm, that it has in the first instance arrived at the point where the need of imaginative conception is disclosed; and it is satisfied to find that indicated in the work of art, which is present in the conception, and here of course is a conception which is religious. We are not therefore entitled, taking into consideration the great strides they have made in laborious activity upon and actual perfection in technical execution, to call the Egyptians uneducated in their sculpture merely on the ground that, despite all this, they did not as yet in great measure seek to attach truth, vitality, and beauty to their results, by virtue of which qualities the free work of art receives a soul. Doubtless from another point of view the Egyptians did advance beyond the mere idea and its necessary demand. They sought further to envisage and embody the same in human and animal forms, nay, they knew how to comprehend and set forth the forms, which they reproduced, clearly, without distortion and in their just relations. They failed, however, to impart to them the breath of vitality, which the human form in its natural state already possesses, and to infuse with them that more exalted life, by virtue of which an active and fluent motion of spirit could be expressed in a created image that was adequate to its significance. Their works rather attest a seriousness that is entirely lifeless, an unsolved riddle, so that the configuration does not so much embody their own individual ideality as permit us to surmise a further significance which is still alien to it. I will here only adduce one example, namely, the frequently recurring figure of Isis, holding Horus on her knees. Here we have, so far as externals are concerned, the same subject-matter that we meet with in Christian art as the Madonna and her Child. In the symmetrical, straight-lined, and immovable pose of the Egyptian example we discover, to quote a recent description[204], "neither a mother, nor a[Pg 208] child; there is no trace of affection, smile, or endearment, in a word there is no real expression at all. Tranquil, unperturbed, and immovable is this divine mother, who suckles her divine babe; or rather we have here neither goddess nor mother, nor son, nor god. It is simply the sensuous sign of a thought, which is capable of no result and no passion; it is not the genuine presentation of a real action, still less the just expression of a natural emotion."

And it is precisely this which constitutes the breach between signification and determinate being, which creates the absence of figurative expression in the artistic results of the Egyptian people. Their ideality or spiritual sense is still so imbruted, that it has no imperative desire to possess the precision bound up in a true and vital representation carried through with detailed accuracy, to which the onlooker has nothing to add, but may simply surrender himself to the attitude of reception and translation, because everything is already a gift of the artist. We must have a more lofty feeling of the individual's self-respect aroused than the Egyptians possessed, before we cease to be content with the indefinite and superficial features of art, and make valid in its products a claim to reason, science, motion, expression, soul, and beauty.

(b) We find this artistic self-consciousness, so far as sculpture is concerned, first wholly alive among the Greeks. By its presence all the defects of the Egyptian phase of art vanish. Yet in this further development we do not have to make a wide leap from the imperfections of a type of sculpture still symbolical to the perfected result of the classical Ideal. Rather the Ideal has, in its own distinctive province—I have noticed this more than once—although lifted to a higher range, to remove the defects whereby in the first instance its onward path of perfection is obstructed.

(α) I will here very briefly refer to Aeginetan and ancient Etruscan works of art as examples of such beginnings within the sphere itself of classical art. Both these stages, or rather styles, already pass beyond that point of view, which is satisfied, as was the case with Egypt, in repeating forms, we will not say absolutely opposed to Nature, but at least forms that are lifeless, precisely as they have been received from others, and is further content to place before the[Pg 209] imagination a figure, from which the same can abstract its own religious content and recover the same for memory, without, however, attempting to work it out under a mode, by virtue of which the work is made apparent as the individual conception and vitality of the artist himself.

But along with this and to the same degree this preliminary stage of ideal art fails as yet to force its way entirely to the true classical ground, and this, first, because it is still clearly constrained within the bonds of the type and therewith the lifeless; secondly, because though it makes an advance in the direction of vitality and motion, yet in the first instance all that it attains to is the vitality of what is wholly of Nature, rather than that beauty, whose animation is Spirit's own gift, and which manifests the life Spirit inseparably conjoint within the living presentment of its natural form, accepting the individual modifications of this fully completed union with equal impartiality from present vision of actual fact and the free creation of genius. It is only in recent times that we have obtained a more detailed knowledge of Aeginetan works of art, over which it has been a matter of controversy, whether they belonged to Greek art or no. In considering their artistic quality, as representations, we must at once make an essential distinction between the head and the rest of the body. The whole of the body, if we except the head, attests the most faithful apprehension and imitation of Nature. Even accidental features of the skin are copied and excellently executed with an extraordinary manipulation of the marble's surface; the muscles are set forth in full relief and the skeleton framework of the body well indicated; the figures are thickset in their severity of line[205], but are reflected with such knowledge of the human organism, that they appear alive to a limit of actual deception, ay, to an extent, so Wagner assures us[206], that we are almost scared at the sight and hardly like to touch them.

On the other hand, in the execution of heads all attempt to represent Nature is abandoned. One uniform design of[Pg 210] face is throughout apparent in all the heads despite every divergence of action, character, and situation; the noses are pointed; the forehead is still the retreating type, which fails to rise up straight and with freedom; the ears are set high in the head; the long slit eyes are flat and oblique; the closed mouth ends in corners which are pursed outwards; the cheeks are stretched flat-shaped; the chin, however, is strong and angular[207]. Of a similar uniformity is the form of the hair and the fall of the drapery, in which symmetry, a principle which is also uniquely conspicuous in the pose and groupings, and second to that, a peculiar kind of exquisiteness are the prevailing characteristics. This uniformity has been in part imputed to a lack of the sense of beauty in seizing national traits, and in part traced to the fact that reverence for the ancient traditions of an art still immature has fettered the hands of the artists. An artist, however, whose life is that of his personality, and who lives in his work, does not suffer his hands to be thus shackled; consequently we can only explain this type of work, associated as it is with great ability in other respects, by assuming some bondage of spirit, as yet not wholly conscious of its freedom and independence of its creative powers.

The pose of these figures is of the same kind of uniformity, not so much a quality of stiffness as uncouthness, lack of enthusiasm, and in a measure, where we have the attitudes of warriors, resembling what we sometimes find from artisans at their trade, such as the rough work of joiners with the plane[208].

The net result, which we gather from the above description, we may affirm to be that, however interesting they may be for the history of art, what is wanting in such works of art, in the conflict they disclose between tradition and the imitation of Nature, is spiritual animation. For we must remember that, in accordance with what I have already explained in the second chapter of this part of my work, spiritual significance is exclusively expressed in the countenance and the pose of the figure. The other parts of the body no doubt indicate natural distinctions of soul, sex,[Pg 211] and age, but what is spiritual in the full sense can only be reflected by the general pose. But it is precisely the traits of countenance and the posture which in Aeginetan sculpture is the relatively spiritless.

The Etruscan works of art, that is, such whose genuineness is fully authenticated by inscription, display the same imitation of Nature in a yet higher degree; they are, however, freer in their pose and facial characteristics, and, in fact, some of them approximate closely to the portrait. Winckelmann, for example[209], mentions the statue of a man which appears to be simply a portrait, though it would also appear to date from a later period of art. It is a man of life-size, representing some kind of orator, a magisterial, worthy sort of person. It is executed with an extraordinary spontaneity and naturalness both of pose and expression. Remarkable and significant it would indeed be, if we did not recollect that on Roman soil it is not the Ideal but actual and prosaic natural fact which is from the first at home.

(β) In the second place truly ideal sculpture, in order to reach the highest point of classical art, has above all, to abandon the mere type and the respect for what is traditional, and to give free scope to the principle of spontaneity in artistic production. It is alone possible to a freedom of this kind entirely to incorporate the significance in its generality in the individual presentment of the form; or, from another point of view, to elevate the sensuous forms to the high level of a true expression of their spiritual import. Only after doing this do we find the rigid and inflexible aspect which is native to the origins of the more ancient art, no less than the emphatic prominence of the significance over the individuality, by means of which the content ought to be expressed, liberated as that vital creation, in which the bodily forms also on their part equally lose the abstract uniformity of a traditional, character, and an illusive realism, and by doing so move in the direction of the classical individuality, which quite as much makes, vital the universality of the form in the particularity of its object as, on the other hand, it makes the sensuousness and actuality of the same throughout interfused with the expression of a soul's[Pg 212] inspiration[210]. A vitalization of this type affects not only the form, but also the pose, movement, drapery, grouping, in short every aspect of the sculptured figure to which I have already drawn attention. What here communicates unity are these two principles of universality and individualization. They have, however, not merely to be brought into harmony in respect to the spiritual content, but also in relation to the material form, before they can be participant in the indissoluble association which is the classical type in its full flavour. This identity, however, has itself a series of stages. In other words, under one extreme we find that the Ideal still somewhat inclines to the aspect of loftiness and severity, which it is true does not deprive the individual object of its living impulse and movement, yet does tend to concentrate it more securely under the lordship of the general type. At the other extreme we find that the universal aspect more and more tends to dissolve in the individual; and while it pays the penalty for doing so in loss of depth it can only replace this loss by further elaboration of this sensuous individuality. Consequently it descends from the heights to the lower levels of that which gives pleasure, is exquisite, blithesome, and displays the charm which flatters. Between these two there is a further phase, one, namely, which carries forward the severity of the first to increased individualization, without reaching that point where mere charm of aspect is held to be the supreme object.

(γ) Thirdly, in the art of Rome we have indications of the dissolution of classical sculpture. In this art it is no longer upon the true Ideal that the entire conception and execution depends. The poetry inherent in the vital action of Spirit, the breath and nobility of the soul apparent in the essentially perfected presentment, these peculiarly emphasized excellences of Greek plastic art disappear, and give place, as a rule, to a preference for portraiture studies. And this insistence on realistic truth in art is carried out in all possible modifications. Notwithstanding, this Roman sculpture maintains so lofty a position in this its own province, that it is only in so far as it withdraws from that which brings a work of art to its full perfection, in other words,[Pg 213] the poetry of the Ideal in the true sense of the word, that it essentially falls behind Greek art.

(c) Fixing now our attention on Christian sculpture we shall find that the principle of artistic conception and its mode of embodiment is from the commencement one that does not so directly commend itself to the material and forms of sculpture as we find to be the case in the classical Ideal of the Greek imagination and art. The romantic Ideal in short is essentially concerned, as we discovered in the second portion of this work, with a personal withdrawal of the self into its own realm from the external world, with a self-absorbed individuality, which no doubt possesses its external reflection, but which permits this external appearance to issue independently from it in its aspect of particularity, without enforcing a fusion between it and its ideal and spiritual self. Pain, torture of body and soul, martyrdom and penance, death and resurrection, the personality of the individual soul, inner life, love, and emotional life in general—this characteristic content of the romantic imagination, in a religious sense, is no object, for which the external form taken simply for what it is in its spatial entirety, and the material which belongs to it in its more sensuous existence unrelated to ideality, can supply either a form that is wholly relevant to it, or one similarly congruent with it. It is therefore not in romantic art sculpture contributes the fundamental type and the affiliating quality of membership in a system[211] to all the other arts as in Greece, but yields the palm in this respect to painting and music, as arts more adequate to express the life of the soul, distinct from the external world of particularity which is withdrawn from it. No doubt we find also in Christian art repeated examples of sculpture in wood, marble, bronze, and both silver and gold work, examples of the greatest excellence. Yet for all that sculpture is not here the art which, as in Greek art, is most fitted to reveal the Divine image. Religious romantic sculpture, on the contrary, is to a larger extent than in the case of the Greek, an embellishment of architecture. The saints are placed as a rule in the niches of towers and[Pg 214] buttresses, or at the entrance doors. Likewise the birth, baptism, the histories of the passion and resurrection, and many other incidents in the life of Christ, the day of Judgment and so forth, accommodate themselves naturally by the multiplicity of their subject-matter to reliefs over church doors, on church walls, and stalls in the choir, and readily approximate to the character of arabesques. All such sculpture contains, for the reason that it is the life of the soul which is herein pre-eminently expressed, characteristics suggestive of the painter's art in a higher degree than is permitted in the plastic of ideal sculpture. And from another point of view, for the same reason, such a sculpture seizes more readily upon aspects of ordinary life, and therewith inclines to portraiture, which, as in the case of painting, it is quite prepared to associate with religious representations. The goose-seller, for example, in the Nürnberg marketplace, which is highly prized by Goethe and Meyer, is an ordinary rustic of very realistic appearance in bronze (it would be impossible in marble), who carries a goose under either arm to market. There are, too, the many sculptured figures, which we find upon the St. Sebaldus Church and on many other churches and buildings, especially dating from the period previous to Peter Vischer, and which in their representation of religious subjects such as the Passion, make clear to us with great vividness this particular type of individualized form, expression, mien and attitude, more particularly in their reflection of every degree of sorrow.

As a rule, then, romantic sculpture, which has deviated only too frequently into every kind of confusion, remains most loyal to the genuine principle of plastic art in those cases where it approaches most nearly the Greek, and either is concerned to treat in the mode of sculpture ancient subject-matter, much as the ancients would have done, or to model the standing figures of heroes and kings, and portraits, with an intention to imitate the antique. This is exceptionally the case nowadays. Much of the most excellent work, however, has been accomplished by sculpture, even in the religious field. It is only necessary here to mention the name of Michelangelo. We can hardly admire sufficiently his dead Christ[212], of which we have a[Pg 215] plaster cast in our Royal Museum. The authenticity of the sculptured figure of the Madonna in the Frauenkirche at Bruges, a consummate work, is disputed by certain critics. Speaking for myself, nothing has ever more impressed me than the tomb of the Count of Nassau at Breda[213]. The Count reposes with his lady, life-size figures both in alabaster, on a slab of black marble. At the angles of this are placed Regulus, Hannibal, Caesar, and a Roman warrior in a bowing posture, and they support above their heads a black slab similar to the one beneath. Could anything be more interesting than to see a character such as that of Caesar placed before our eyes by Michelangelo. Even when dealing with religious subjects the genius, the power of imagination, the force, thoroughness, boldness, in short all the extraordinary resources of this master tended, in the characteristic production of his art, to combine the plastic principle of the ancients with the type of intimate soul-life which we find in romantic art. But as we have seen, the direction as a rule of the Christian emotion, where the religious point of view and idea are paramount, is not towards the classical form of ideality, which primarily and with highest results is the determinant factor of its sculpture.

From this point we may now fix the transition from sculpture to another principle of artistic apprehension and presentment, which requires for its realization another sensuous material. In classical sculpture it was the objective and substantive individuality in its human shape, which constituted the vital core, and the human form was placed thereby at such a lofty level, that it was in fact retained in its abstract simplicity as the beauty of form, and as such converted to the Divine image. Under such a one-sided aspect of content and representation man is not fully himself in his concrete humanity. The anthropomorphism of art remains in its incomplete state in ancient sculpture. For that which fails us here is humanity in its objective universality, a universality which we identify at the same time with the principle of absolute personality, quite as much as that aspect of it which in common parlance is called human, in[Pg 216] other words the phase of subjective singularity, human weakness, contingency, caprice, immediate sense life, passion, and so forth, a phase or factor which must be taken up into that universality in order that the entire individuality, the subject of conscious life, that is, in its entire range, and in the infinite compass of its reality, may appear as the vital principle both of the mode of presentment and its content.

In classical sculpture one of these phasal aspects, that is the human from the side of immediate Nature, is in part only brought before us in animals, quasi-animals, fauns and the like, without being reflected back again into the personal life of soul, and stated as a negation of that; and also in some measure this type of sculpture only accepts the factor of particularity, only directs its interest to external things in the pleasing style, in the countless sallies of delight and conceits, in which the antique plastic lives and moves. Owing to this we wholly fail to meet here the profundity and infinity which lies at the root of man's personal life, that inmost reconciliation of Spirit with the Absolute, that ideal union of humanity with the humanity of God. No doubt Christian sculpture is the instrument which makes visible the content which here enters the domain of art more consonant with the above disregarded principle. But it is precisely its modes of art's embodiment which expose to us the fact that sculpture is insufficient for such a content, that other modes of art will infallibly arise able to reach in very truth the mark which sculpture failed in its work to achieve. We may collectively unite these new arts under the title of the romantic arts. They are indeed the modes most adequate to express the romantic type of art.

[111] Sein subjektives Fürsichseyn. Subjective independence of material conditions. Self-consciousness.

[112] Rückkehr in sich. Into itself, its own ideal world of conscious thought and emotion.

[113] In seine innerliche Subjektivität. That is, what is essentially the world of soul. Spirit here stands for mind and Gemüth or emotional life.

[114] Ein Sichzeichen des Geistes, i.e., are signs of itself which mind evolves in a mode of externality.

[115] Here called generically Baukunst.

[116] Die plastische Deutlichkeit.

[117] Das subjektive Innere, i.e., spiritual experience of a personality.

[118] That is in comparison with the fully independent arts.

[119] That is to say it must be a distinct object of the senses.

[120] In sich materiell particularisirt. We see Hegel's false notions of the theory of colour influencing his expression. It is really false to say that sculpture has nothing to do with colour. Light and shadow at least are necessary and colour is implied.

[121] That is, lets fall some of its aspects.

[122] Das Gemüth. Strictly the more emotional part.

[123] Between the extremes of architecture and poetry or music.

[124] Lit., "Without being manifested in its return to itself as ideal substance."

[125] Unparticularized, that is in its essential experience.

[126] He explains this lower down. The concentrated point is in the flash of the eye. Perhaps here he merely refers to it generally.

[127] Als Innerlichkeit.

[128] This is only partially true of bronze, and any marble that has had weathering.

[129] By grosse geistige Sinn Hegel means no doubt more than "taste." He refers to the deep-rooted instinct in the genius of the race.

[130] Meyer, "History of the Plastic Arts among the Greeks," vol. I, p. 119.

[131] Die acht plastische Mitte. Hegel means that plastic art comes to its most important focus, as it were, between the arts that either incline too much to the material as in architecture, or to ideality as in poetry.

[132] Näheren.

[133] The reader must always bear in mind that Spirit (Geist) includes intelligence. It might no doubt in some places be better translated as "mind."

[134] Substantielle. That is what is the concrete fulness of real spiritual content.

[135] Als Subjekt.

[136] Besonderheit. The isolated self of the Aufklärung.

[137] Zufälligen Selbstischkeit. Contingent selfness. The ego above described.

[138] Ohne innere Subjektivität als solche. That is, in the wholly abstract sense.

[139] Begriff appears to refer here to the notion of animal life generally, rather than the generic notion in its narrow sense.

[140] Innern Strukture. The structure that ideally motives the whole.

[141] Dieses ideelle einfache Fürsichseyn des leiblichen. Apparently this includes the vegetable world.

[142] Macht sich. That is an operative principle in the working out of.

[143] Als Seele, i.e., in the narrow sense of the expression above defined.

[144] Pathognomik, i.e., the science, that is, of the expression of the passions, together with that of their physiological aspect.

[145] Lit., contingent subjectivity.

[146] Hegel's expression Mienen is not easy to translate by a single English equivalent. It signifies the passing look—the general variety of facial expression as contrasted with the permanent expression of substantive character.

[147] Den eigentlichen Mienen. The definite aspects of the face which express relatively permanent states of soul-life.

[148] Persists in the line of direction of the Ideal.

[149] Die schöne freie Nothwendigkeit.

[150] By Witzigkeit I presume Hegel means oddity and funniness of every kind—perhaps "humorous eccentricity" would interpret it.

[151] I think this gives the sense, though the language is rather confused because his image is that of invention attaching itself to what is already presented rather than creating a form that is based on external suggestion.

[152] The celebrated courtesan. She entered the sea with dishevelled hair at a celebrated festival at Eleusis. She had a statue of gold at Delphi.

[153] Eigentlich Vorstellung ist.

[154] Statarisch. That is, modelled on historical associations or the results of former work; perhaps "eclectic" would be a better word.

[155] Der geistige Ton.

[156] De varietate nationum, § 60.

[157] As in savage animals.

[158] The word system is used, which is not readily translated in this context, though I have adopted the literal translation lower down.

[159] Mildrung. The softening of its severe lines.

[160] Werke, vol. IV, bk. 5, c. 5, § 20, p. 198.

[161] It is difficult to see what Hegel means exactly here by Schnitte. I suppose he means the external lines of the eye-socket.

[162] L.c. § 29.

[163] Flügeln must here refer to the orifices of the nose.

[164] Winck, l.c. § 37, p. 218.

[165] Hegel's word is habitus. Customary attitude and mode of connection appears to be included.

[166] Gebehrde, a word somewhat difficult to translate here. It seems to combine the ideas of gesture and pose.

[167] The reference is, of course, to painting and indirectly to poetry.

[168] Ein in sich versunkenes Dastehn oder Liegen.

[169] Gediegenheit.

[170] See vol. I, pp. 268-272.

[171] Das höhere Innere.

[172] Das geistige Bewusstseyn.

[173] Her. I, c. 10.

[174] This vitality.

[175] Vol. V, bk. 2, p. 503.

[176] Vol. V, bk. 6, ch. 2, p. 56.

[177] Mus. Pio-Clement. Tom. 2, pp. 89-92.

[178] Winck., vol. II, p. 491.

[179] Vol. IV, bk. 5, ch. I, § 29.

[180] I am not sure what is exactly meant by gekrümmt here. The description is not very lucid.

[181] IV, 5, 2, § 10.

[182] Winck., vol. VII, p, 78.

[183] Winck., vol, VII, p. 80.

[184] Vol. IV, p. 78.

[185] Vol. II, § I.

[186] Winck., vol. IV, p. 116.

[187] Such is, I think, the general meaning, though the literal translation of the words als den Figuren sämmtlich die Einfachheit abgeht is not quite clear. I take the word sämmtlich to mean "taken collectively as separate units."

[188] Winck., Werk., vol. V, p. 389. Anmerk.

[189] Meyer's Gesch. der bild. Künste bei den Griechen, vol. I, p. 60.

[190] Pausanias, II, 30.

[191] I presume this is the meaning of Bildnerei.

[192] I am not sure whether Angaben refers to actual sketches, or merely other evidence handed down.

[193] In the year 1829.

[194] That is in the accuracy of mechanical line as the result of machine.

[195] Sanftes Verlaufen, i.e., passage from one plane surface to another. Zusammen-stossen appears to me the melting together of lines, i.e., conjunction, fusion.

[196] Meyer's Gesch., vol. I, p. 279.

[197] Vol. III, Vorr. XXVII.

[198] That is in 1821.

[199] Statarischen, scholastic, eclectic.

[200] "De Leg.," Lib. II, ed. Bekk., III, 2, p. 239.

[201] Herod, II, c. 167.

[202] Vol. III, bk. 2, ch. I, p. 74.

[203] Vol. III, bk. 2, ch. 2, pp. 77-84.

[204] "Cours d'Archéologie par Raoul-Rochette, 1-12me leçon," Paris, 1828.

[205] I am not sure if this rightly gives the sense of the words Die Gestalten bei strenger Zeichnung gedrungen.

[206] Ueber die Aeg. Bildwerke mit kunstgesch. Anmerk. von Schelling, 1817.

[207] That is, it does not approach Egyptian type so nearly.

[208] Hegel's words mean this, I suppose, though the German is somewhat compressed and not very clear as it stands.

[209] Vol. III, ch. 2, § 10, p. 188 and Pl. VI, A.

[210] Hegel uses the unusual word Begeistigung, I presume somewhat in the sense of Begeisterung, signifying the personal inspiration of the artist.

[211] This appears to be the meaning of the difficult phrase that sculpture supplies das gesammte Daseyn, i.e., is the affiliating link of the collective body. All the different arts are stamped with its characteristics.

[212] I presume the Pietà in St. Peter's.

[213] Hegel's "Vermisch. Schriften," vol. II, p. 561.

[Pg 217]



The source of the general transition from sculpture to the other arts is, as we have seen, the principle of subjectivity, which now invades art's content and its manner of exposition. What we understand here by subjectivity is the notion of an intelligence which ideally exists in free independence, withdrawing itself from objective reality into its own more intimate domain, a conscious life which no longer concentrates itself with its corporeal attachment in a unity which is without division.

There follows from this transition, therefore, that dissolution, that dismemberment of the unity which is held together in the substantive and objective presence of sculpture, in the focus of its tranquillity and all-inclusive rondure and as such is apprehended in fusion. We may consider this breach from two points of view. On the one hand sculpture, in respect to its content, entwined what is substantive in Spirit directly with the individuality, which is as yet not self-introspective, in the exclusive unit of a personal consciousness, and treated thereby an objective unity in the sense in which objectivity suggests what is intrinsically infinite, immutable, true—that substantive aspect, in short, which has no part in mere caprice and singularity. And from another point of view sculpture failed to do more than discharge this spiritual content wholly within the corporeal frame as the vital and significant instrument of the same, and by doing so create a new objective unity in that meaning of the expression, under which objectivity, as contrasted with all that is wholly ideal and subjective, indicates real and external existence.

[Pg 218]

When we find, then, that these two aspects, at first thus reconciled in one another by sculpture, are separated, that which we call self-introspective spirituality is not merely placed in opposition to that which is external, but also, in the domain of what is spiritual throughout, what is substantive and objective in that medium, in so far as it no longer continues to be retained in what is substantial individuality simply, is dissevered from the vital particularity of the conscious life, and all these aspects which have been hitherto held together in perfect fusion are relatively to each other and independently free, so that they can be treated too by art as free in this very way.

1. If we examine the content, then, we have through the above process, on the one hand, the substantive being of what is spiritual, the world of truth and eternity, the Divine in fact, which however here, in accordance with the principle of particularity, is comprehended and realized by art as a subject of consciousness, or as personality, as the Absolute, which is self-conscious in the medium of its infinite spiritual substance, as God in His Spirit and Truth. And in contrast to Him we have asserted the worldly and human condition of soul-life, which, regarded now as no longer in direct union with the intrinsic substance of Spirit, can unfold itself in all the fulness of that particularity which is simply human, and thereby permits the heart of man wherever and whenever represented[214], the entire wealth of our human mortality, to be open to art's acceptance.

The meeting-ground upon which these two aspects once more coalesce is the principle of subjectivity, which is common to both. The Absolute is, in virtue of this, disclosed to us to the full extent a living, actual, and equally human subject of consciousness, as the human and finite conscious life, viewed as spiritual, makes vital and real the absolute substance and truth, or in other words simply the Divine Spirit. The new bond of unity which is thus secured no longer, however, supports the character of that former immediacy, such as sculpture disclosed it; rather it is a union and reconciliation which asserts itself essentially as a mediation of opposed factors, and whose very notion[Pg 219] makes its apprehension only possible in the realms of the soul and ideal life.

I have already, when the general subdivision of our science in its entire compass offered an opportunity for doing so, laid it down, that if the Ideal of sculpture sets forth in a sensuously present image the essential solidity[215] of the individuality of the God in the bodily form alone able to express that substance, the community thereupon essentially confronts such an object as the intelligent reflection of that unity. Spirit, however, that is wholly self-absorbed can only present the substance of Spirit under the mode of Spirit, in other words as a conscious subject, and receives thereby straightway the principle of the spiritual reconciliation of individual subjective life with God. As particular self, however, man also possesses his contingent natural existence, and a sphere of finite interests, needs, aims, and passions, whether it be more extensive or restricted, in which he is able to realize and satisfy his nature quite as much as he can in the same be absorbed in those ideas of God and the reconciliation with God.

2. Secondly, if we consider the aspect of the representation on its external side, we find that it is by virtue of its particularity at once self-subsistent and possesses a claim to stand forth in this independence, and this for the reason that the principle of subjectivity excludes that correspondence in its immediacy, and disallows to itself the absolute interfusion of the ideal and external aspects in every part and relation of it. For the subjective principle is here precisely that which comes to be, in self-subsistent seclusion, that inward life which retires from real or objective existence into the realm of the Ideal, the world of emotion, soul, heart, and contemplation[216]. This ideal life is manifested no doubt in its external form, under a mode, however, in which the external form itself appears, that is to say it is merely the outer shell of a conscious subject that is growing independently within. The hard and fast association of the bodily form and the life of Spirit in classical sculpture is not therefore carried to the point of an all-dissolving unity[217] but in so[Pg 220] light and slack a coalescence that both aspects, albeit neither is present without the other, preserve in this connection their separate independence relatively to the other, or at least, if a profounder union is really secured, the spiritual aspect as that inward principle, which asserts its presence over and beyond its suffusion with the objective or external material, becomes the essentially illuminating focus of all. And it results from this that, to promote the enhancement of this relatively increased self-subsistency of the objective and material aspect,—we have in our mind mainly, no doubt, the extreme case of the representation of external Nature and its objects, even in their isolated and most exclusive particularity,—yet even in such a case and despite all realism in the presentment it is necessary that such counterfeits should permit a reflection of the artist's soul to be visible on their face. They should in other words suffer us to see the sympathy of Spirit in the manner of their artistic realization, and therewith discover to us the life of soul, the ideal life which is the vital breath of their co-ordination, the penetration of man's emotional life itself into this extreme type of external environment.

Speaking, then, generally, we may affirm that the principle of subjectivity carries with it as its inevitable result, on the one hand, that the wholly unconstrained union of Spirit with its corporeal frame should be given up, and the bodily aspect be asserted in a more or less negative relation over against the former, in order that the ideality of Spirit may be emphasized on the front of that external reality, and, on the other hand, in order to procure free scope for every separate feature of the variety, division, and movement of what is spiritual no less than what directly appeals to man's senses.

3. And, thirdly, this new principle has to establish itself in the sensuous material, of which art avails itself in its new manifestations.

(a) The material hitherto was matter simply, that is, the material of gravity in the content of its spatial extension, and no less was it form under its simplest and most abstract definition of configuration. Now that the subjective and at the same time the essentially particularized content of the soul is imported into this material, the spatial totality of[Pg 221] such material will without question in some measure suffer loss in order that the former content may appear upon its face with its ideal mintage[218], and contrariwise will be converted from its immediately material guise to an appearance which is the product of mind or spirit; and, on the other hand, both in respect to form and its externally sensuous visibility, all the detail of what appears will be necessarily emphasized in the way that the new content requires. Art is, however, even now compelled in the first instance to move in the realm of the visible and sensuous, because, following the above course of our inquiry, though no doubt the inward or ideal is conceived as self-introspection[219], yet it has further to appear as a return of its own quality to itself from this very realm of externality and material shape, in short, as a return of itself to itself, which can only from the earliest point of view be portrayed in the objective existence of Nature and the corporeal existence of Spirit's life.

The first among the romantic arts will consequently have as its proper function to assert its content in the visible forms of the external human figure and the natural shape wherever disclosed, without, however, remaining bound to the sensuous ideality and abstract range of sculpture. This is the task and province of painting.

(b) In so far, however, as we find in painting for its fundamental type, not as in sculpture the entirely perfected resolution of the spiritual idea and the bodily form in one content, but rather the predominant exposition of the self-absorbed ideality of soul, to that extent the spatial figure in extension is not a truly adequate medium of expression for the inward life of Spirit. Art therefore abandons the previous medium of configuration, and in the place of spatial forms employs the medium of tone in the limited duration of its sounds; tone in fact by its assertion of the material of Space under a purely negative relation secures for itself a finite existence nearer to ideality, and corresponds to that[Pg 222] soul-life, which in accordance with its own inward experience conceives and grasps that life as emotion, and then expresses that content, as it enforces its claim in the unseen movement of heart and soul, in the procession of tones. The second art, therefore, which follows this principle of exposition is that of music.

(c) Thereby, however, music merely is placed at the opposite extreme, and, in contrast to the plastic arts, both in respect to its content and relatively to its sensuous material, and the mode of its expression, cleaves fast to the formless content of its pure ideality. It is, however, the function of art, in virtue of its essential notion, to disclose to the senses not merely the soul-life, but the manifestation and actuality of the same in its external reality. When, however, art has abandoned the process of veritably informing the real and consequently visible form of objective existence, and has applied its activity to the element itself of soul-life, the objective reality, to which it once more recurs, can no longer be the reality as such in itself, but one which is merely imagined and prefigured to the mind or sensitive soul. The presentment, moreover, as being the communication to Spirit of creative mind working in its own domain is compelled to use the sensuous material united to its disclosure simply as a mere means for such communication. It must consequently lower its denomination to that of a sign which of itself is without significance. It is at this point that poetry or the art of speech, confronts us, which now incorporates its art-productions in the medium of a speech elaborated to an instrument of artistic service, precisely as intelligence already in ordinary speech makes intelligible to spiritual life all that it carries in itself. And, moreover, for the reason that it is able thus to unfold the entire content of Spirit in its own medium, it is the universal art, which belongs indifferently to all the types of art, and is only excluded in that case where the spiritual life which is still unrevealed to itself in its highest form of content is merely able to make itself aware of its own dim presentiments in the form and configuration of that which is external and alien to itself.

[Pg 223]



The most adequate object of sculpture is the tranquil self-absorption of personality in its essential substance, the character whose spiritual individuality is in the fullest degree displayed on the face of its corporeal presentment, making the sensuous frame, which reveals this incorporation of spirit, adequate to such an embodiment of mind wholly in its aspects of external form. The sightless look has as yet failed to concentrate at one point the supreme focus of ideal life, the vital breath of soul, the heart of most intimate feeling, and is as yet without spiritual movement, without the deliberate distinction between a world without it and a life within. It is on account of this that the sculpture of the ancients leaves us in some degree unmoved. We either do not remain long before it, or our delay is rather due to a scientific investigation of the fine modifications of form and detail which it displays. We cannot blame mankind if they are unable to take the profound interest in fine works of sculpture which such works deserve. To know how to value them is a study in itself. At first glance we either experience no attraction, or are immediately conscious of the general character of the whole. To come to closer quarters we have first to discover what it is that continues to supply such an interest. An enjoyment, however, which is only the possible result of study, thought, learning, and a wide experience is not the immediate object of art. And, moreover, the essential demand we make that a character should develop, should pass into the field of action and affairs, and that the soul should thereby meet with divisions and-grow deeper, this, after all our journey in search of the delight which this study of the works of antique sculpture may bring to us,[Pg 224] remains unsatisfied. For this reason we inevitably feel more at home in painting. In other words we are at once and for the first time conscious in it of the principle of our finite and yet essentially infinite spiritual substance, the life and breath of our own existence; we contemplate in its pictures the very spark which works and is active in ourselves. The god of sculpture remains for sense-perception an object simply; in painting, on the contrary, the Divine appears as itself essentially the living subject of spiritual life, which comes into direct relations with the community, and makes it possible for each individual thereof to place himself in spiritual communion and reconcilement with Him. The substantive character of such a Divinity is not, as in sculpture, an individual that persists in the inflexible bond of its own limitations[220], but is one which expands into and is differentiated within the community itself.

The same principle generally differentiates the individual from his own bodily frame and external environment to quite as considerable an extent as it brings the soul into mediated relation with the same. Within the compass of this subjective differentiation—regarded as the independent assertion of human individuality as opposed to God, Nature, and the inward and external life of other persons, regarded also conversely as the most intimate relation, the most secure communion of God with the community, and of individual men with God, the environment of Nature and the infinite variety of the wants, purposes, passions, and activities of human existence—falls the entire movement and vitality, which sculpture, both in respect to its content and its means of contributing expression, suffers to escape; and it adds an immeasurable wealth of new material and a novel breadth and variety of artistic treatment which hitherto was absent. Briefly, then, this principle of subjectivity is on the one hand the basis of division, on the other a principle of mediation and synthesis, so that painting unites in one and the same art what hitherto formed the subject-matter of two different arts, namely, the external environment, which architecture treated artistically, and the essentially spiritual form, which was elaborated by sculpture. Painting places its[Pg 225] figures on the background of a Nature or an architectural environment, both of which are the products of its own invention in precisely the same sense, and is able to make this external material in both of these aspects by virtue of its emotional powers and soul a counterfeit within its ideal realm, in the degree that it understands how best to place it in relation and harmony with the spirit of the figures that live and move therein.

Such is the principle of the new advance that painting contributes to the representative powers of art.

If we inquire now the course which the more detailed examination of our subject necessitates the following division will serve us.

In the first place we shall have yet further to consider the general character which the art of painting must necessarily receive in accordance with its notion and relatively both to its specific content, the material that is made consonant with this content and finally the artistic treatment which is thereby involved.

Secondly, we have to develop the separate modes of definition, which are contained in the principle of such a content and manner of presentation, and more succinctly fix the boundaries of the subject-matter which is adapted to painting no less than the modes of its conception, composition, and technical qualities as painting.

Thirdly, painting is itself broken up into distinct schools of painting by reason of the above divisions of matter, technique, and so forth, which, as in the other arts, have their own phases of historical development.


After having thus emphasized as the essential principle of painting that world of the soul in its vitality of feeling, conception, and action cast in embrace round heaven and earth, in the variety of its manifestations and external disclosures within the bodily frame, and affirmed on this account that the focus, and centre of this art is to be sought for in romantic and Christian art, it may immediately occur to the reader that not only do we find excellent artists among the ancients, who are as distinguished in this art as others of[Pg 226] their age in sculpture—and we cannot praise them more highly—but also that other peoples, notably the Chinese, Hindoos, and Egyptians, have secured distinction in the direction of painting. Without question the art of painting is, by virtue of the variety of the objects treated and the particular type of its manner of execution, less[221] restricted in the range of nations that exemplify its pursuit. This, however, is not the point at issue. If our question is simply that of the historian doubtless we find single examples of one type[222] of painting or another have been produced at the most varied epochs by the nations already mentioned and others. It is, however, a profounder question altogether when we ask ourselves what is the principle of painting, examine the means of its exposition and in doing so seek to establish that content, which by virtue of its own nature is emphatically consonant with the painter's art as such and its mode of presentment, so that we can affirm the form thus selected to be wholly adequate to the content in question. We have but little left us of the painting of the ancient world, examples, in fact, which we see can neither have formed part of the most consummate work of antiquity in this respect, nor have been the product of its most famous masters. At least all that has been discovered through excavation in private houses is of this character. It is impossible, however, not to admire the delicacy of taste, the suitability of the objects, selected, the clearness of the grouping, and, we may add, the lightness of the handling and freshness of the colouring, excellences which without doubt were present in the originals of such pictures in a far higher degree, in imitation of which, for example, the wall paintings in the so-called house of the tragedian at Pompeii have been executed. We have, unfortunately, no examples of the works of famous masters. Whatever degree of excellence, however, these more original productions attained, we may none the less affirm that the ancients could not, alongside of the unmatchable beauty of their sculptures, have lifted the art of painting to the level of artistic elaboration as painting which we find secured in the Christian era of[Pg 227] the Middle Ages, and pre-eminently in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. And we may assume this to be so on the philosophical ground that the most genuine heart of the Greek outlook is, in a degree which is inapplicable to the other arts, concordant with the root and fragrance of that which sculpture and sculpture alone can supply. And in art we are not entitled to separate spiritual content from its mode of presentation. If, having this clear to our minds, we inquire how it is that painting only reached its most characteristic consummation through the content of the romantic type of art, we can but reply that it is precisely the intimacy of feeling, the blessedness[223] and pain that give to us the soul of this profounder content, whose demand is for such a vital infusion, which has paved the way to and in fact been the cause of this higher perfection of painting.

As an example of what I mean I will but recall to recollection one particular instance already cited, namely, that we borrow from Raoul-Rochette of the treatment of Isis carrying Horns on her knees. In general the subject is identical with the Madonna pictures, a Divine mother and her child. The difference of handling and conception in the two cases, however, is immeasurable. The Egyptian Isis, as we find her thus situated on bas-reliefs, has nothing maternal about her, no tenderness, no trait of soul or emotion, such as is not even wholly absent in the stiffer Byzantine pictures of the Madonna. And if we think of Raphael, or any other great Italian master, what results have they not achieved from this subject of the Mother and Christ-babe! What depth of emotion, what spiritual life, what intimacy and wealth of heart, what exaltation and endearment, how human and yet how entirely filled with divine spirit is the soul which speaks to us from every line and feature. And under what infinite variety of forms and situations is this one subject presented to us even by particular masters taken singly and still more by different artists. The mother, the pure Virgin, the physical, the spiritual beauty, loftiness and devotion of love, all this and countless other features are emphasized in their turn as the main significance of the[Pg 228] expression. But chief of all we find throughout that it is not the sensuous beauty of mere form, but the animate life of Spirit, by virtue of which artistic genius no less than mastery of execution is asserted and secured. Now it is quite true that Greek art has passed a long way beyond Egyptian art, and we may add that it has made the expression of man's soul an object aimed for. But it was not capable of grasping that intimacy and depth of emotion which is discovered to us in the Christian type of expression, and indeed was careful, in accordance with its entire character, not to attach itself to such intensity of feeling. Take, for instance, the case I have more than once already cited of the faun, who carries the youthful Bacchus in his arms; it is, no doubt, expressive of extremely tender and amiable qualities. The nymphs are equally so who tend upon Bacchus, a situation which is depicted by a gem in a very beautiful group of figures. In such cases we have an analogous sentiment of unconstrained love for a child, equally free from passion and yearning; but, even putting on one side the maternal relation[224], the expression possesses in no respect the intimacy, the depth of soul, which confront us in Christian paintings. The ancients may very well have painted excellent portraits, but neither their way of conceiving natural fact, nor the point of view from which they regarded human and divine conditions was of the kind that, in the case of painting, an infusion of soul-life could be expressed with such intimate intensity as was possible in Christian painting.

The demand of painting, however, for this more personal type of inspiration is a result of its very material. In other words, the sensuous medium in which it moves is an extension on pure surface, and the display of form by means of the use of diversified colours, by virtue of which process the objective shape, as we have it presented to the vision, is converted to an artificial illusion adopted by a spiritual agency[225] in the place of the actual form of fact. It is part of the principle of such a treatment of material that which is external should not ultimately retain its validity in its independent native existence, even in the modified form it takes[Pg 229] as a vital product of human hands, but should in this form of realization be lowered as reality to a purely phenomenal reflex of the inward soul-life itself, which seeks to contemplate itself independently as such. When we look into the heart of the matter we shall find that the advance from the rounded form of sculpture amounts to nothing less than the above statement. It is the soul-life, the ideality of Spirit which undertakes to express itself in an intimate way through the counterfeit of the objective world. Add to this, in the second place, that the surface on which the art of painting makes its objects visible, opens independently the path to the employment of a surrounding background and other complex relations; and colour too, regarded as the articulation of that which appears, requires a correspondent differentiation of soul-life, which can only be rendered clearly through the definition of expression, situation, and action, and consequently makes necessary variety, movement, and the detailed exposition of both the inward and external life. This principle of inwardness[226] taken alone, which at the same time in its actual manifestation is associated with the variety of external existence and is cognizable on the face of such particular existence as an essentially complete and independent complex of conditions, we have already seen to be the principle of the romantic type of art, in whose configuration and mode of presentation consequently the medium of painting discovers in a unique way its wholly adequate object. Conversely we may affirm at the same time that romantic art, when the question is actually one of definite works of art, must seek for material which is consonant with its content, and in the first instance it finds such in painting, which consequently remains more or less of a formal character when dealing with all objects and compositions not of this type[227]. Granting, then, the fact that we find outside the Christian paintings an Oriental, Greek, and Roman school of painting, yet the real centre and focus of all is none the less the elaboration which this art secured within the boundaries of romantic[Pg 230] art. We can only speak of Oriental and Greek painting in the same kind of way as we did when, despite our main thesis that sculpture attained its highest crown of perfection in the classical Ideal, we referred to a subordinate Christian type of sculpture. In other words we are forced to admit that the art of painting first apprehends its content in the material of the romantic type of art, which completely corresponds to its instruments and its modes, and consequently that it was only after the treatment of such material that it discovered how best to use and elaborate in every direction all the means at its disposal.

Following now the course of the above remarks in a wholly general way we have to observe as follows in connection with the content, material, and artistic mode of treatment of painting.

(a) The fundamental definition of the content of painting is, as we have seen, subjectivity as an independent process[228].

(α) In this process, looking at it from the point of view of a reflex of soul-life, individuality must not wholly pass into the universality its substance, but must on the contrary disclose how it retains that content as a distinctive personality[229], and possesses and expresses its inward life, that is the vitality of its own conception and feeling in the same; neither should the external form be wholly dominated by the ideal individuality as is the case in sculpture. For the principle of subjectivity, albeit that it permeates the external material as the mode of objectivity adequate to express it, is notwithstanding likewise an identity which withdraws itself into itself out of that objective domain, and by virtue of this self-seclusion is relatively to that objective aspect neutral, leaving it quite untrammelled. Just as therefore, on the spiritual side of the content, the particularity of the personal life is not set forth in direct union with its substance and universality, but is essentially reflected as[Pg 231] the culminating feature of its independent embodiment[230], so, too, in the objective envisagement of form, the particularity and universality of the same are carried from their previous plastic union[231] to a predominance of the individual aspect, and indeed of comparatively accidental and indifferent features, and in a manner much the same as that which, in the reality of sense experience, is the prevailing character of all phenomena.

(β) A further important point is that connected with the range of scope that is permitted to the art of painting in virtue of its principle with regard to the objects to be thus presented.

The free principle of subjectivity suffers on the one hand the entire field of natural objects, and every department of human activity to remain in its substantive mode of existence; on the other, it is capable of entering into fusion with all possible detail, and creating therefrom a content of its own ideal life, of rather we should say that only in this interfusion with concrete actuality does it assert itself as concrete and vital in its products. Consequently it is possible for the painter to import a wealth of material into the realm occupied by his artistic works, which remains outside, the reach of the sculptor. The entire world of the religious idea, conceptions of heaven and hell, the history of Christ, his disciples and saints, external Nature, all that concerns humanity down to the most fugitive of situations and characters, all this material and more can find a place here. For as we have seen all that pertains to the detail, caprice, and accidental features of human need and interest is affected by this principle, which at once strives to comprehend and compose it.

(γ) And along with this fact we have as its corollary that painting makes the soul of man itself the subject of its creative work. All that is alive within the soul is present in ideal form, if it is, when we consider its content, at once objective and absolute in the abstract sense[232]. For the emotional[Pg 232] life of soul can without question carry the universal within its content, a content, however, which, as feeling, does not retain the form of this universality, but appears under the mode as I, this individual person—I know my identity therein and feel the same. In order to educe and set forth this objective content as objective, I must forget myself. In this way the painter no doubt reveals to our sight the ideal substance of soul in the form of external objects, but the truly real content which it expresses is the personal soul that feels. For which reason painting, from the point of view of form, is unable to offer such distinctive envisagements of the Divine as sculpture, but only ideas of less defined character such as belong to the emotions. It may appear as a contradiction to this position that we find again and again selected as subjects of the paintings of masters, who stand without question in the highest rank, the external environment of mankind, mountains, valleys, meadows, brooks, trees, ships, buildings, their interiors, in short earth, sea, and sky. What, however, constitutes the core in the content of such works of art is not the objects themselves, but the vitality and soul imported into them by the artist's conception and execution, his emotional life in fact, which is reflected in his work, and gives us not merely a counterfeit of external objects, but therewith his own personality and temperament[233]. And it is precisely by his doing this that the objects of Nature, as reflected by painting, even from this realistic point of view, are relatively insignificant, because the influence of soul-life begins to assert itself in them as the main significance. In this tendency towards temperament, which, in the case of objects borrowed from external Nature, may frequently only amount to a general response emphasized between the two sides, we find the most important distinction between painting on the one hand and sculpture and architecture on the other. Painting indeed approximates in this respect more closely to music and emphasizes here the point of transition from the plastic arts to that of tone.

(b) To proceed to our second main division I have already several times referred, if only in respect to features of fundamental[Pg 233] importance, to the difference we discover between the sensuous material of painting and that of sculpture. I will therefore in this place only touch upon the closer connection which obtains between this material and the spiritual content which it most notably has to display to us.

(α) The first fact we have to consider in this connection is this that painting compresses the three dimensions, of Space. Absolute concentration would be carried to the point, as elimination of all juxtaposition, and as unrest essentially predicable of such concentration, as we find it in the point of Time. Such a mode of negation carried out in its entire result, however, we only meet with in the art of music. Painting, on the contrary, permits the spatial relation still to subsist, and only effaces one of the three dimensions; superficies is made the element of its representations. This reduction of the three dimensions to level surface is implied in principle of increasing reality, which is only capable thereby of asserting itself in spatial relation as such ideal transmutation, owing to the fact that it does not suffer the complete totality of objective fact to persist as such, but restricts the same. Ordinarily we are accustomed to view this reduction as a caprice of the art which amounts to a defect. What is here sought for, it appears, is that natural objects in all their naked reality, or spiritual ideas and feelings, by means of the human body and its postures should be made visible to our senses for such an aim it is obvious that the surface is insufficient and inferior to Nature, which appears before us with a completeness wholly different.

(αα) Painting is unquestionably yet more abstract than sculpture in respect to material conditioned in Space; but this abstraction, remote as it is from being a purely capricious limitation, or an indication of human incapacity, is just that which brings about the necessary advance from sculpture. Even sculpture is not simply an imitation of natural or physical existence, but a creation of intelligence, which removes from form all aspects of natural existence which are not in accord with the definite content it undertakes to present. This elimination was carried out by sculpture in the case of all colour detail, so that what remained to it was only the abstraction of material form. In painting we have the opposite process, its content being the ideality of soul-life,[Pg 234] which can only appear on the face of objective reality, by a process of self-absorption from that very material[234]. The art of painting, therefore, no doubt, works for the sense-perception, but in a way, through which the object which it displays remains no longer an actual natural existence wholly in Space, but is changed to a counterfeit creation of intelligence, in which it only so far reveals its spiritual source as it annuls the actual existence of its object, recreating it for itself in a purely phenomenal semblance within its own spiritual realm—for Spirit.

(ββ) And to this intent painting must necessarily effect a breach with the totality of the spatial condition, and there is no reason for charging to human incapacity this loss of Nature's completeness. In other words, inasmuch as the object of painting from the point of view of its spatial existence, is merely a semblance, reflective of the soul of man, exhibited by art for his spirit, the self-subsistency of the object as we find it actually in Space is dissolved, and the object is related in a far more restricted way to the spectator than is the case in sculpture. A statue is by itself wholly an isolated object, independent of the spectator, who may place himself where he pleases; his point of view, his movements, his walking round it, not one of them affect the work of art as a whole[235]. If this self-subsistency is to be preserved the sculptured figure must also have some definite impression to offer each and every point of view. And this independence of the work must be retained in sculpture for the reason that its content is the tranquillity, self-seclusion, and objective presence which, in both an external and ideal sense, reposes on their own substance. In painting, on the contrary, whose content is conditioned by an ideal atmosphere, and in fact is composed of ideal relations essentially particularized, it is precisely this aspect of discord in a work of art between object and spectator which has to be emphasized, and yet with a like directness to be resolved in[Pg 235] the fact, that the work, as depicting the ideality of intelligence in its entire mode of presentation, can be only defined under the assumption that it stands there related to an individual mind, that is a spectator, and apart from the same has no self-subsistency. The spectator is assumed and reckoned to be there from the first, and the work of art is only intelligible as related to this point of personal contemplation[236]. For such a relation to mere visibility and its reflection upon an individual consciousness, however, the mere show of reality is sufficient; or rather the actual totality of the spatial condition is a defect, because in that case the objects seen retain an independent existence, and do not appear to be created by Spirit for its own contemplation. Nature consequently is not entitled to reduce its images to the plain surface; its objects possess and claim to possess a real and independent existence. The satisfaction, however, we derive from painting is not in actual existence, but in the contemplative interest we receive from the external reproduction of ideal truths, things born of the soul, and its art therefore dispenses wholly with the need and apparatus of spatial reality in its complete organization.

(γγ) And together with this reduction to the level surface we may thirdly associate the fact that painting is placed in a still more remote position to architecture than that occupied by sculpture. Works of sculpture even where exhibited independently for themselves in public places or gardens, require some kind of pedestal treated architectonically, and, in the case of apartments, forecourts, and halls, either the art of building merely assists in presenting the statue's fitting environment, or conversely the sculptured figure is used as the decoration of the building, and between these two thus related objects we find a close association. Painting, on the contrary, whether placed in the enclosed apartment, or in public halls, or under the open sky, is limited to the wall. Originally its function is simply to fill up empty wall spaces. Among the ancients this original destination is mainly sufficient, and they decorated in this way the walls of their temples, and in more recent times also their private chambers. Gothic architecture, whose main task is the enclosure under the most grandiose conditions,[Pg 236] supplies no doubt still larger surfaces, or rather the largest possible, yet it is only in the most ancient mosaics that we find painting is employed as a decoration of empty spaces, whether in the case of the outside or the interior. The more recent architecture of the fourteenth century, on the contrary, fills up its enormous wall surfaces in an architectural manner, the most imposing example I know of which is the main façade of Strasbourg cathedral. Here we find that the empty surfaces, excluding the entrance doors, the rose and other windows, are filled in by the ornamental work analogous to that of windows traced over the walls, and decorated by figures of considerable delicacy and variety of form, so that we have no need here for painting. In the case of religious architecture, therefore, painting mainly appears in buildings which begin to approximate to the ancient type of architecture. As a rule, however, Christian painting is to be distinguished from the arts of building, and presents its works in independent form, as for example in large pictures, whether placed in chapels or on high altars. It is true that here, too, the picture must retain some relation to the character of the place, which it is destined to fill; for the rest, however, it is not merely intended to fill up wall spaces, but to hang them as a work of art independently just as a work of sculpture may do. In conclusion painting has its use as a decoration of halls and apartments in public buildings, town halls, palaces, and private houses, in which respect its association with architecture is once more closely marked, an association, however, in which its independence as a free art ought not to be lost.

(β) A further necessary ground for the contraction of the spatial dimensions in painting to bare surface is due to the fact that the art of painting is concerned to express ideal conditions essentially in their separation[237], and thereby rich in every kind of particular character. A mere restriction to the shapes of spatial form, with which sculpture is able to rest satisfied, vanishes therefore in the more luxuriant art; for the forms of spatial dimension are the most abstract in Nature, and an attempt must now be made to seize particular distinctions, in so far as the demand is now for an essentially more multifold material. The matter specifically defined in[Pg 237] the physical sense is attached to the very principle of presentation in Space, the differences of which[238], if they are to appear as essential in the work of art, themselves disclose this fact[239] in the total configuration of spatial form, which no longer remains the final mode of presentation, and they are compelled to make a breach in the complete form of spatial dimensions, in order to cancel the exclusive appearance of the physical medium. For the dimensions in painting are not presented by themselves in their actual reality, but are merely by means of this physical aspect made to appear and be visible as such.

(αα) If we further inquire what is the nature of the physical element which the art of painting makes use of we shall find this to be Light, regarding it as that medium which renders all objects whatever visible.

Previously the sensuous, concrete material of architecture was the resisting matter of gravity, which more particularly in the art of building asserted this character of heavy material in its features of burden, constraint, power to support and be supported, and even in sculpture still retained such characteristics. Heavy material encumbers because it does not possess its centre of material unity in itself, but in something else; and it seeks for this centre and strives towards it, though it retains its position through the resistance of other bodies, which become by doing so bodies of support. The principle of light is an opposite, or extreme, of that material of weight which is not as yet enclosed within its unity. Whatever else we may predicate of light it is obvious that it is absolutely devoid of weight and offers no resistance; rather it is pure identity with itself, and thereby simple self-relation, the primordial ideality, the original self of Nature. In light Nature make its start on the path of ideality or inwardness[240], and is the universal physical ego,[Pg 238] which of course is not carried here to the point of particularity[241], nor has as yet concentrated itself within the unit of individuality and self-seclusion, yet is thereby enabled to cancel the bare objectivity and external show of heavy matter and abstract from the sensuous and spatial totality of the same[242]. From this aspect of the more ideal quality of light it becomes the physical principle of the art of painting.

(ββ) Light regarded simply as such, however, only exists as one aspect contained in the principle of subjectivity, that is, as this more ideal identity. In this respect light is manifestation, just that, which, however, in Nature is only asserted generally as the power of making objects visible, holding the particular content of that which it reveals outside itself as an objective world, which is not light, but rather that which confronts it and consequently is dark. These objects light renders cognizable under their distinctions of form by irradiating them, that is, illuminating to a greater or less degree their obscurity and invisibility, and permitting certain parts to be more visible, namely, as they approach the spectator, and others, on the contrary, more obscure as they withdraw from him. For light and darkness, putting for the present on one side the particular colour of an object, is generally speaking due to the relative remoteness of the illuminated objects from us in their specific degree of illumination. In this direct relation to objectivity light is no longer asserted simply as light, but as essentially particularized brightness and obscurity, light and shadow, whose varied manifestations render the shape and distance of objects from one another intelligible to the spectator. This is the principle which painting makes use of, because from the first differentiation is implied in its notion. If we compare this art in this respect with sculpture and architecture we shall see that in these latter arts the actual distinctions of spatial configuration are set forth in their nakedness, and light and shadow are suffered to retain the ordinary effect which light produces in Nature relatively to the position of the spectator, so that the rondure of form is here already independently[243] present and light and shade,[Pg 239] whereby they are rendered visible, are merely a result of that which was already actually on the spot independently of this further aspect of their becoming visible. In the art of painting, however, brightness and darkness together with all their gradations and finest transitions are themselves part of the fundamental artistic material, and it is a purely intentional appearance they produce of that medium, which sculpture gives form to in its native state. Light and shade, in short, the appearance of objects under this illumination, is effected by art rather than the mere natural light, which consequently only makes that kind of brightness, darkness, and lighting visible, which are the products of painting. And this it is which constitutes the positive rationale deduced from the material of the art itself, why painting does not require three dimensions. Form is the creation of light and shadow simply, and that form which exists in spatial reality is superfluous.

(γγ) Bright and dark, shadow and light, no less than their interplay are, however, merely an abstraction, which do not exist in Nature as such abstraction, and consequently cannot be utilized as sensuous material. In other words Light, as we have already seen, is related to its opposite Dark. In this relation both principles have no self-subsistency apart from each other, but can only be asserted in their unity, that is, as the interplay of light and dark. The light, which is in this way essentially impaired and obscured, which, however, to a like extent transpierces and illumines darkness[244], supplies us with the principle of colour as the genuine material of painting. Light in its purity is devoid of colour, it is the pure indeterminacy of essential identity. Distinction from bare light, a lowering of its value, is the characteristic of colour, which in contrast to light is already in some degree obscurity, and together with which the principle of light is asserted in union. It is consequently an incorrect and false idea to hold that light is the aggregate result of different colours, or in other words different degrees of obscuration[245].

Form, distance, limitation, rounded shape, in short, all[Pg 240] spatial relations and distinctions visible in the phenomena of Space are unfolded in the art of painting entirely by means of colour, the more ideal principle of which is capable of presenting a more ideal content and by virtue of its profounder oppositions, the infinite variety of its transitional gradations and the delicacy of its softest modulations relatively to the fulness and detail of the objects it accepts as subject-matter, is possessed of a field for its activity of the widest range. It is beyond belief what mere colour is able to accomplish in this art. Two human beings are, for example, something totally distinct. Either is in his self-conscious identity no less than his bodily organism an independent and exclusive spiritual and bodily totality, yet the entire result of this difference is in a picture reduced to a distinction of colours. In one place some particular shade of colour ceases, in another a particular one starts up, and by such means we get everything set before us, shape, distance, play of posture, expression, what is nearest to sense and what is most akin to intelligence. And we are not to regard this reduction as a make-shift and defect. Quite the reverse is the fact; the art of painting dispensing with the third dimension in no such way, but deliberately rejecting it in order to set in the place of purely spatial reality the higher and richer principle of colour.

(γ) This wealth enables painting to elaborate in its reproductions the entire extent of the phenomenal world. Sculpture is more or less restricted to the stable self-seclusion of individuality. In painting, however, the individual cannot remain in such limitations of stability whether regarded in his ideal aspect or relatively to the external world, but is placed in every kind of varied definition. For on the one hand, as already pointed out, he is placed in a far closer relation to the spectator, and on the other he receives a more varied connection with other individuals and the environment of Nature. A process, therefore, which merely illuminates semblance of objective fact makes possible the widest expansion of distances and spaces and the present of such and all the varied objects that appear in them in one and the same work of art. Yet it must no less, as a work of art, prove itself to be a self-contained and unified whole, and exhibit itself in this synthesis, not simply as an aggregate[Pg 241] whose limits and boundaries are defined by no principle, but rather as a totality whose unified consistency is due to its own subject-matter.

(c) In the third place we have, after this general consideration of the content and sensuous material of painting, briefly to adduce in general terms the principle of the artistic mode of treatment adopted by it.

The art of painting more so than either sculpture or architecture admits of the two extremes. In the first case prominence is given to the religious and ethical severity of the conception and presentation of the ideal beauty of form, and in the second, where the subject-matter is, taken by itself, insignificant, to the detail of what it contains and the personal aspect of the creative art. We may therefore not unfrequently hear two extreme kinds of criticism. Our critic in the one case apostrophizes the nobility of the object, the depth and astonishing sufficiency of the conception, the greatness of the expression, and the boldness of the delineation[246]. And in the other equal praise is given to the fine and unexampled character of the painter's treatment of his colour. This contrast is implied in the very notion of the art; indeed, we may affirm that it is impossible to unite both aspects on one plane of elaboration. Each must remain inevitably independent of the other. For painting has shape simply as such, that is, the forms of spatial limitation, no less than colour as means contributive to its artistic result, and is placed thereby midway between the Ideal of the plastic arts and the extreme form of the direct detail of Nature's reality; by reason of which we get two distinct types of painting. One, that is the ideal, whose essential basis is universality; and the other, that which presents particular objects in all their closeness of detail.

(α) In this respect painting must accept, in the first instance, as sculpture, that which is substantive in the sense that the objects of religious belief are such, no less than the great events of history, and its pre-eminent individual characters, albeit it renders visible this substance in a form wherein the ideal and personal aspect is emphasized. It is[Pg 242] the imposing character, the serious significance of the action portrayed, or the depth of the soul expressed which is here of most importance, so that the elaboration and employment of all the rich artistic means which are within the reach of painting, and the dexterity, which the wholly consummate use of these means demands regarded as a tour de force of technique, cannot here be entirely indicated. In cases of this kind it is the force of the content to be presented and the absorption in what is essential and substantive in the same, which tend to drive into the background the overwhelming facility in the art of painting as that aspect which is less essential. In this sense, for instance, the Cartoons of Raphael are of invaluable merit, and fully display the entire excellence of their composition, although Raphael, even in the case of particular pictures, despite all his mastery in drawing, and the purity of his ideal, and at the same time wholly vital personal figures, and the composition he may have arrived at, most certainly in colour, and all that concerns landscape and other aspects, is excelled by the Dutch masters. This is yet more the case with the earlier Italian heroes of art, in contrast to whom Raphael is to a somewhat similar degree inferior in depth, power, and ideality of expression, as he surpasses such in the technique of his craft, in the beauty of vital grouping, in draughtsmanship and the like[247].

(β) Conversely, however, the art of painting, as we have seen, ought to advance further than this exclusive absorption in the ideal and infinite content of man's soul-life; its function is equally to assert the subsistency and freedom of detail, which however incidental it may be, contributes to the environment and background of the work. In this advance[Pg 243] from the profoundest seriousness to the objective features of independent detail it is bound to force its way to the extreme articulation of the purely phenomenal, where any and every content is a matter of indifference, and artistic illusion in a realistic sense is the main interest. In such a type of art we find depicted for us the most fugitive aspect of the sky, the time of day, the lighting up of the woods, the gleam and reflection of the clouds, waves, lakes, streams, the shimmer and glitter of wine in the glass, the glance of the eye, and every conceivable look and smile of the human countenance. Painting in such cases moves from the idealistic standpoint to that of living reality, whose phenomenal effect it mainly seeks to reproduce by means of accuracy in the execution of every bit of detail[248]. Yet this effort is no mere assiduity of elaboration, but a real exercise of genuine talent, which strives to present every kind of detail in its independent perfection, and yet retain the whole composition in unity and fusion, and this can only be done by the finest art. In such work the vital force of the realistic appearance thus secured tends to be more near to the artist's aim than the Ideal; and it is precisely this kind of art, as I have already found occasion to remark, which raises, as no other, controversial points over the significance of the Ideal and Nature. No doubt it is very possible to blame the use of the most elaborate technique in subjects of little importance by themselves as mere extravagance; yet there is no real reason for rejecting such material, and it is precisely of that kind which ought to be treated in this way by art, and be permitted to keep every conceivable subtlety and refinement of surface appearance that it possesses.

(γ) The artistic treatment does not, however, stop at this[Pg 244] more general kind of opposition, but, inasmuch as painting reposes on the principle of soul-expression and particularity, proceeds yet further in the direction of differentiation in its results. Both architecture and sculpture, it is true, assert differences of national type, and in particular we are made aware in sculpture of a closer individuality typical of certain schools and masters. In the art of painting this distinction and personal aspect in the modes of representation expands to an incalculable degree in proportion as the objects, which it may accept, are taken from a field without definable limitations. In this art to a pre-eminent extent the genius of particular peoples, provinces, epochs and individuals asserts its claims and affects not merely the choice of subjects and the spirit of their conception, but also the character of drawing, grouping, colouring, handling of the dry point no less than that of particular colours down to characteristics of personal style and wont.

Inasmuch as the function of painting is so without restriction concerned with the ideal aspect and the details of its subject-matter, it follows of course that it gives us quite as little opportunity to make definite statements of universal validity as to adduce specific facts which can always without exception be accepted as true of it. We must, however, not rest satisfied with what I have already discussed in respect of the principle of the content, the material and the artistic treatment, but make a further effort, however much we leave on one side all that confronts us in its multifold variety, still to subject certain aspects, that most emphatically enlist our attention, to further examination.


The different points of view, according to which we have to undertake this closer characterization, may be already anticipated from our previous discussion. They refer once more to the content, the material and the artistic treatment.

First, as to content, we have no doubt found the content of the romantic type of art offer the most adequate subject-matter; we must, however, inquire further what specific[Pg 245] portions we should select from the entire wealth within this type as pre-eminently adapted to the art of painting.

Secondly, we have already made ourselves fairly cognisant with the principle of the sensuous material. We have now to define more narrowly the forms, which may be expressed on the level surface by means of colouring, in so far as the human form and other facts of Nature have to be made visible in order that the ideality of Spirit may be thereby disclosed.

Thirdly, we have a similar question with regard to the definite character of the artistic conception and presentation, which corresponds to the different character of the content thus itself similarly differentiated, producing thereby different types or schools of painting.

(a) I have already at an earlier stage recalled the fact that the ancients have had excellent painters, but added thereto the statement that the function of painting is only completely satisfied by the way of looking at things and the type of art which is referable to the emotional life and which is actively asserted in the romantic type of art. What appears, however, to contradict this from the point of view of content is the fact that at the very culminating point of Christian painting, during the age of Raphael, Rubens, Correggio, and others, we find that mythological subjects are used and portrayed in part on their own merits, and in part for the decoration and allegorization of great exploits, triumphs, royal weddings, and so forth. In this sense Goethe, for example, has once more borrowed from the descriptions of Philostratus of the pictures of Polygnotus, and, assisted by his imaginative powers as a poet, has added a novel freshness to such subjects for the painter's benefit. If, however, such contributions further imply the demand that subjects of Greek mythology and saga, or scenes, too, from the Roman world, for which the French at a certain period of their painting have evinced a great inclination, should be conceived and portrayed in the definitive mood and significance attached to them by the ancient world we can only object generally that it is impossible to recall to life this past history, and what is peculiarly appropriate to the antique is not wholly compatible with the art of painting. The painter must consequently create from such material an entirely[Pg 246] different result, must import therein a totally different spirit, other emotions and modes of seeing things than those present to the ancients, in order to bring such a content into accord with the real problems and aims of painting. For this reason also the circle of antique material and situations is not that which painting has elaborated in a consequential process; rather it is an aspect of it which has been passed over as alien to its material, and which has first to be essentially remodelled. I have several times insisted that painting has before all to seize that, the presentment of which it can, in deliberate contrast to sculpture, music, and poetry, master by means of external form. And this is pre-eminently the self-concentration of Spirit, which is denied to sculpture, while music again is unable to make the passage to the external appearance of ideality, and poetry itself can merely render visible the bodily presence in an incomplete way. Painting, on the contrary, is still in a position to unite both aspects. It can express the entire content of soul-life in an external form, and is consequently bound to accept for its essential content the emotional depth of the soul no less than the particular type of character and its specific traits in its deepest impression—in other words intensity of feeling and ideality in its differentiation, for the expression of which definite events, conditions, and situations not only must appear as the explanatory source of individual character, but the specific individuality must disclose itself as a part of the moulded form of the soul and physiognomy, rooted therein, and entirely taken up into the external embodiment.

In order to express generally this ideality of soul we do not require that ideal self-subsistency and largeness[249] of the classical type we have previously dealt with, in which individuality persists in immediate accord with the substantive core of its spiritual essence and the physical characteristics of its bodily presentment; to quite as little extent will suffice to the manifestation of this soul-life Nature's ordinary hilarity, that Greek geniality of enjoyment and blissful absorption in its object; rather true depth and self-revelation of spiritual life presupposes that the soul has worked its way through its emotions, its forces, its whole inward life, has[Pg 247] overcome much, has suffered and endured much anguish or misery of spirit, and yet in all these divisions has retained its sense of unity and come back to the same out of them. The ancients no doubt also place before us in the mythos of Hercules a hero, who after many troubles receives his apotheosis, and enjoys among the gods the repose of blessedness; but the labours which Hercules accomplishes are purely external, and the bliss, which he obtains as a reward, is merely a tranquil cessation from labour; and the ancient rune, that Zeus will have brought his empire to its consummation by his efforts, he, that is the greatest hero of Greece, has not accomplished. Rather the end of the rule of these self-subsistent gods then commences for the first time, where we find man overcomes the dragons and serpents of his own breast, the obstinacy and stubbornness of the soul's native realm rather than the living dragons and serpents of Nature. Only thereby will Nature's gladsomeness attain to that loftier cheerfulness of the spirit, which is perfected in its passage through the negative phase of division, and finally secures an infinite satisfaction through such travail. The feeling of blitheness and happiness must be glorified and expanded in real blessedness. For happiness and content still retain an association with external conditions which partake of Nature's contingency. In blessedness, however, that happiness, which is still related to immediate existence, is left behind, and the entire content is made one with the inner life of soul. Blessedness is a satisfaction which is an attained result, and is thereby justified; it is the gladness of a victory, the emotion of a soul which has essentially set at nought what is sensuous and finite, and thereby thrust from itself the care which lurks for ever in ambush. Blessed is the soul, which has, it is true, experienced both conflict and pain, but come victorious through its troubles.

(α) If we now inquire what is the nature of the actual Ideal in this content we shall find it to be the reconciliation of the individual soul with God, who in His human manifestation has Himself traversed this passage of sorrows. The substantive ideality[250] can only be that of religion, the peace of self-consciousness, which only feels itself truly satisfied,[Pg 248] in so far as it is concentrated in its own substance, has broken its earthly heart, has raised itself above the purely natural conditions of finite existence, and in this exaltation has secured an inward life of universal significance, an ideal union in and with God Himself. The soul wills itself, but it finds the object of its will in something other than itself, in its particularity; it thereby gives itself up in its opposition to God, in order to find itself again and its joy in Him. This is the vital character of Love, the soul's function in its truth, that is religious love purged of mere desire, which communicates to Spirit reconciliation, peace, and blessedness. It is not the enjoyment and delight of the actual love of living nature, but rather one that is devoid of passion, nay, one that is without inclination, a tendency of the soul, a love in fact which on the side of Nature is identical with death, and is such a state, so that the actual relation as earthly bond and relation of man to man floats before us as a thing of the Past, which essentially has no consummation in its usual existing form, but carries within itself the defect of its temporality, and as such prepares the way for an exaltation to something beyond it, which is found to be at the same time a conscious state and enjoyment of a love that is without yearning and sensuous desire.

It is this character which gives to us the soulful, intimate, and more elevated Ideal, which we find now in the place of the tranquil greatness and self-subsistency of the antique. No doubt the divinities of the classical Ideal were not without a trait of sombre grief, a negative replete with fateful import, which is as it were the shadow of a cold Necessity passing over these blithesome figures, which remain, however, secure in their substantive divinity and freedom, their simple greatness and might. The freedom of Love, however, is not a freedom of this kind, being more instinct with soul-life, for the reason that it subsists in a relation between soul and soul, and spirit to spirit. This inward glow enkindles the ray of bliss made actual in the soul, a love, which in suffering, and the extremest loss not merely can discover comfort or independence therefrom, but in proportion to the depth of its suffering can feel the more profoundly therein the reality and assuredness of its[Pg 249] love, making clear the mastery of its own essential substance in that suffering. In the Ideal of the ancients on the contrary we find no doubt, independently of that trait of a tranquil sorrow already indicated, the expression of the pain of noble natures, as for instance in the case of Niobe and Laocoon. They do not betake themselves to lamentation and despair, but adhere to their greatness and loftiness of spirit; but this self-continency remains empty; their suffering, their pain is likewise the conclusion of the matter. In the place of reconcilement and satisfaction we can only have an austere resignation, which, without suffering entire collapse, surrenders that upon which it had previously laid hold. It is not the base that is crushed[251]; no rage, no contempt or vexation is expressed; but despite of it all the loftiness of this type of individuality is nought but an inflexible self-continency[252], an endurance of destiny that is without relief, in which the nobility and pain of the soul do not appear as reconciled in fulfilment. In the romantic love of religion we find for the first time the expression of blessedness and freedom. This union and satisfaction is by nature concrete in a spiritual sense, for it is the feeling of Spirit which is made cognizant of its unity in something other than itself. And for this reason we find necessary here, if the content presented is to be complete, two aspects, in so far as the reduplication of spiritual personality is necessary to love's appearance. It reposes upon two independent individuals who possess, however, the sense of their intrinsic union. With this union, however, the negative condition is always at the same time connected. In other words Love belongs to the soul's condition; the subject of such a conscious state is, however, this independently self-stable[253] heart, which to experience love must bid good-bye to itself,[Pg 250] surrender itself and sacrifice the unyielding focus of its individual isolation. It is this sacrifice which constitutes the motive principle of Love, the life and emotion of which is bound up wholly in a self-surrender. In consequence of this, if notwithstanding a man retains his consciousness of self in an act of such surrender, and just in this very annihilation of his personal independence attains to a truly positive self-subsistency, in that case he has left him at least in the feeling of this unity and its supreme happiness the negative aspect, the movement of Love's principle, not so much in a sense of sacrifice, as of a blessedness undeserved, which in despite of himself permits him still to feel his assured identity at unity with itself. The movement is the feeling of the dialectical contradiction, namely, to have surrendered personality and yet to remain in self-subsistent unity, a contradiction which is present in Love and eternally resolved in it.

In so far, then, as the aspect of an individual human state of soul-life is concerned in this universal condition we find that the unique Love, which blesses and discovers its heaven within it, tends to rise over all that is finite and the specific individuality of character, which lapses into a position of insignificance. Already we have observed that the divine ideals of sculpture pass into one another, always provided, however, that they are not wrested from the content and province of that original and immediate type of individuality; and yet it must be admitted that this individuality remains the essential form of the mode of presentment. In this later pure gleam of blessedness, however, particularity is on the contrary cancelled. Before God all men are equal, or rather piety makes them actually equal, so that the sole point of importance is the expression of love in the concentrated focus above depicted, and which has no further need of happiness, or this or that particular object. No doubt religious Love, too, requires definite individuals as a condition of its existence, which possess also, apart from this experience, other spheres of existence; for the reason, however, that this soul-possessed state of intimate life supplies the really ideal content, the expression and reality of such are not to be found in the isolated distinctions of character, its talents, conditions, and fortunes, but are rather lifted[Pg 251] above the same. When consequently nowadays we hear people make a regard for distinctions in the soul-life of different persons a matter of first importance in education, and in that which is the essential requirement of each man individually, from which we deduce the fundamental thesis that every one will and indeed inevitably must act differently in a given case, such a position directly clashes with the fact of the love of religion, in which all such diversities of individual life fall into the background. Conversely, however, individual characterization now, precisely for the reason that it is the unessential, which refuses wholly to fuse with the spiritual realm of celestial Love, receives a more emphatic definition. In other words, agreeably to the romantic type of art, it is free, and is written in character all the more distinct in proportion as it refuses to accept as its supreme principle classical beauty, that is the entire transfusion of immediate vitality, and the particularity of finite existence, with a spiritual or religious content. In despite of this fact, however, there is no absolute reason that this individual characterization should impair this inward intensity of Love, which, as such on its own account, is not shackled to such features, but has become free, and constitutes independently the truly self-substantive Ideal of Spirit.

What, then, constitutes the ideal centre and main content of the religious field is, as we have already indicated in our examination of the romantic type of art, the essentially reconciled and satisfied Love, whose object should appear in the art of painting, whose function it is to exhibit the most spiritual content under the mode of human and corporeal actuality, as no mere "beyond" of Spirit, but in its veritable presence. In conformity with such a result we may adduce the Holy Family, and above all the love of the Madonna to her child as the ideal content pre-eminently fitted to this sphere. On either side of this centre, however, a mass of additional material extends which is in varying degree less adapted in this sense to the art in question. I will now attempt to differentiate the whole of this material on the following lines.

(αα) The first objectification is the object of Love itself in its pure universality and unimpaired unity with itself—God Himself in His unphenomenal essence—or God the Father. In this case, however, painting has great difficulties[Pg 252] to overcome, when it attempts to depict God the Father as the religious imagination of Christendom seeks to grasp Him. The Father of gods and men regarded as a particular personality is exhaustively dealt with by art in Zeus. What on the contrary falls away from the Christian conception of God the Father is the human individuality, in which painting is alone in a position to reproduce the spiritual aspect. For taken in His independent self-exclusion God the Father is no doubt spiritual personality and supreme Power, Wisdom and so forth, but only retained as such without defined form and as an abstraction of thought. The art of painting is, however, unable to avoid anthropomorphization, and must perforce assign to Him the figure of man. However broad in its generalization, however lofty, ideal, and masterful the presentment of such a figure may be, we fail to get beyond the fact that it is entirely a human individual of more or less grave aspect, which fails entirely to coalesce with the conception of God the Father. Among the early Flemish painters Van Eyck in his God the Father of the altar picture at Ghent has attained the greatest success that we can conceive as possible in this sphere. It is a creation that may well match our conception of the Olympian Zeus. But however consummate it may be also in its expression of eternal repose, loftiness, power, worth, and other qualities—and it is quite impossible to overstate the depth and imposing character of its conception no less than its execution—yet our imagination cannot fail to find something in it which does not satisfy. For what is here set before us as God the Father, that is to say a creation that is likewise human personality, is just what we first meet with in Christ the Son. It is in Him that we contemplate for the first time this decisive moment in which individuality and human existence combine as a moment in the Divine Life[254], and moreover combine in such a way that the same is not disclosed as an ingenious creature of the phantasy, as was the case with the Greek divinities, but as essential and very revelation, the fact of all importance and fundamental significance.

(ββ) The more essential object, therefore, of Love in the[Pg 253] creation of painting will be Christ. In other words, with this object Art at once finds itself in the sphere of humanity, a sphere which along with Christ embraces further material in its presentations of the Virgin Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, the disciples, and so forth, and ultimately the common folk who in part are followers of the Gospel, and in part cry out for the crucifixion of its Master and mock Him in His sufferings.

And here once more the already mentioned difficulty confronts us how we are to conceive and depict Christ in his universality, when he is presented in the ordinary way of half-length figures or portraits. I must admit that for myself at any rate, the heads of Christ I have seen by Caracci and others and, to take two famous examples, that of Van Eyck, formerly in the Sully Collection and now in the Berlin Museum, and that of Von Hemling, now in Munich, do not give me the entire satisfaction which they ought to do. That of Van Eyck, no doubt, is very imposing in figure, forehead, colour, and general conception, but the mouth and eye wholly fail to express anything that transcends our humanity. The expression is rather that of an inflexible seriousness, which is emphasized by the general type of the form, the parting of the hair, and other traits. And when such heads incline still further in expression and shape towards the specifically human type, and a milder, more yielding and tender aspect is thereby imported, much of their depth and power of impression is very readily lost; and least of all suited to such, as I have already observed, is the beauty of Greek form.

For this reason Christ, as depicted in the experiences of His actual life, is a more suitable subject for pictorial effort. Yet in this connection an essential distinction must not be overlooked. It is quite true that in the biographies of Christ we have from one point of view the human consciousness of God presented us as a fundamental aspect. Christ is one of the gods, but under the guise of an actual man, and takes His place among men as one of them, in whose phenomenal appearance He can consequently be depicted in so far as such expresses the life of Spirit. From another point of view, however, he is not merely an individual man, but entirely God. In such situations, therefore, in which this[Pg 254] supreme Divinity forces its way beyond the limits of human soul-life, the art of painting is met with a fresh source of difficulty. The very depth of the content begins to be too overpowering. For in the majority of cases in which we find Christ presented for example merely as a teacher, art will not pass much beyond the point in which He is depicted as the noblest, most worthy, and wisest of men, much as Pythagoras or any other wise man, is presented to us in such a picture as Raphael's "School of Athens." The most important way in which painting can overcome such a difficulty is to bring the Divinity of Christ mainly into direct contrast with His surroundings, and above all, to contrast it with the sins, the repentance and penance, or the meanness and evil of our humanity, or again conversely through His worshippers, who, by their adoration of Him remove Him as one of themselves and a man, existing in a particular place, from such immediate conditions, so that we behold Him exalted to the heaven of Spirit, and at the same time get a glimpse of the fact that His appearance has not merely been that of God, but also that of the human form under its ordinary and natural, in other words, not wholly ideal conditions, who as Spirit essentially possesses his existence in our humanity and the human community, and expresses His divinity as reflected in the same. But we must not understand this reflection as though God is present in humanity as in a purely accidental or external mode of form and expression; rather we ought to regard the Spirit manifested in the consciousness of mankind as the essential spiritual existence of God Himself[255]. Such a mode of presentation will be exceptionally appropriate where Christ is to be represented as man, teacher, as the risen and glorified person who ascends up to heaven before our eyes. To speak plainly, in situations such as these the means of expression in painting such as the human form and its colour, the countenance, the glance of eye, are not wholly sufficient to express all that is implied in the Christ. And least of all will the antique beauty of forms suffice. In particular the resurrection and ascension, and generally, all scenes in the[Pg 255] life of Christ, in which He, the individual man, is already divested of immediate existence as such on His return to His Father, require a more elevated expression of Divinity than the art of painting is able to supply, for the reason that it ought to cancel the very means it uses in its representation, that is, the expression of human soul-life in its external form, and glorify the same in a light of purer quality.

Consequently, we shall find those scenes of Christ's life treated with greater advantage and more fitting effect in which He Himself has not yet arrived at the full consummation, or where His Divinity appears to be obstructed and depressed in the moment of negation. And this we find is the case in His childhood and the Passion. That Christ as a child expresses definitely from a certain point of view the significance which attaches to Him in religion. He is God Who becomes man, and Who consequently passes through the stages of man's natural life. In another aspect of the same fact that He is presented to our minds as a child we are led to feel the practical impossibility of disclosing entirely to us all that He essentially is. And it is just here that the art of painting possesses the incalculable advantage of being able to show how the loftiness and dignity of Spirit can shine forth from the naïveté and innocence of the child, which in some measure derives actual force from such a contrast, and in part, for the very reason that it is predicated of an infant, is to an infinitely less extent required by us in comparison with that we look for in Christ as man, teacher, and judge of the world. In this way the examples of Christ the babe which we find in Raphael's pictures, and above all, that in the Sistine Madonna picture at Dresden, offer us the most beautiful presentment of childhood. We are, however, aware in them also of a tendency to pass beyond merely childlike innocence, a passage which discloses quite as much the Divine already present in the opening sheath, as it enables us to surmise the expansion of such Divinity to an infinite fulness of revelation, a revelation the incompleteness of which in the child carries with it its own justification. In the Madonna pictures of Van Eyck, on the contrary, the Divine babe is the least successful feature, for they are in general stiff and emphasize the defective form of a newly-born child. It has been attempted to regard this as allegorical[Pg 256] and intentional. They are not to be fair in aspect because it is not the beauty of the Christ babe which is that which is adorable, but the Christ as Christ. Such a mode of thought is not consonant with the true aim of Art, and the babes of Raphael regarded as works of art are in this respect of far higher rank.

In the same way the history of Christ's passion, such as the scenes where He is mocked and crowned with thorns, that of the Ecce Homo carrying the cross, deposition, and burial, are exceptionally appropriate to pictorial presentment. For in these it is precisely the Divinity, in its contrast to its triumph and in the depression of its unlimited power and wisdom, which supplies the content. Art is not merely able to present this, but there is ample room for the play of originality in the composition of such scenes without falling into purely fantastical imagery. God is here set before us as suffering, in so far as He is man and under certain determinate bounds. Such pain is not merely disclosed as human pain over human calamity, but it is an awful suffering, the feeling of an infinite negativity, albeit in human form, as the conscious life of one individual. And withal there is added, for the reason that it is God who suffers, a certain sense of alleviation, a reduction of such anguish which is thus unable to break forth in actual despair, distortion, and horror. This expression of soul-suffering is, more particularly in the works of several Italian masters, an original creation. The pain is in the lower portions of the countenance, a gravity of mien, and nothing more, not as in the Laocoon a contraction of the muscles, which can be interpreted as an actual cry; but in the eyes and on the forehead the billows of soul-anguish are, so to speak, allowed to roll over one another. The sweat drops that bespeak the heart's agony stand forth; and with true instinct on the brow, in which the immovable bone constitutes the determining feature, precisely at the point where nose, eyes, and forehead coalesce, and the life of mind and heart is concentrated and emphasized, we find that just one or two indications of skin-folds and muscles, unable to be distorted to any great extent, are suffered pre-eminently to bear and express in tension this accumulated weight of agony. In particular I can recall a certain head in the gallery of Schleisheim, in which the[Pg 257] master—I fancy Guido Reni[256]—and doubtless others in a similar way, have discovered a distinct colour tone for the flesh, which is quite unlike that of human flesh. They had to disclose the night of the Spirit and created for the same a dowry of colour, most admirably adapted to express this tempest, these black clouds of Spirit which are likewise encompassed by the brazen forehead of the Divine Nature[257].

As the most perfect subject of such painting, however, I have already affirmed that Love, which is essentially satisfied, whose object is no purely spiritual Beyond, but one actually present, so that we can behold Love itself in its object. The highest and most unique form of such a Love is that of the Virgin Mother for her Christ child, the love of the one mother who has brought forth the Saviour of the world and carries Him in her arms. This is the content of most loveliness to which we may say Christian art generally and pre-eminently the painter's art in the religious sphere has been exalted.

The love of God, and more expressly[258] that of which Christ is the object, is of an entirely spiritual type. Its object is only visible to the eyes of the soul, so that in these cases we do not in the strict sense get the reciprocity which is bound with the notion of Love, and moreover there is no natural tie which secures the lovers and from its origin binds them to each other. Every other type of love, to put the matter conversely, remains in some measure accidental in its incidence, and in another aspect of it the lovers possess, as, for instance, sisters, or the father's love for his children, yet further relations outside this particular one, which assert an essential claim upon them. A father or brothers are compelled to direct their attention to the world, the State, affairs or war, in one word universal ends; the sister becomes wife, mother, and so forth. In the case of a mother's love of her child, on the contrary, the love is from[Pg 258] its very nature neither something that is contingent, nor is it merely a single phase[259]. It is its highest earthly type, in which its natural character and its most sacred function immediately coalesce. From the point of view, however, in which as a rule in maternal love the mother sees and feels at the same time her husband in her child, we may observe that this aspect, too, in the Virgin Mary's case disappears. Her feeling has nothing in common with a wife's love for her wedded husband; on the contrary her relation to Joseph is rather that of a sister, and on the side of Joseph a feeling of respectful reverence for the Child that is God's and Mary's. We therefore find that religious love is set forth in its fullest and most ideal[260] human form, not in that for Christ amid His sufferings, nor in His resurrection, nor as He delays His departure among His friends, but in the emotional nature of a woman, in Mary. Her entire soul and life is human love for the Child, which she calls her own, and along with it adoration, and love of God with whom she feels herself thus united[261]. She is humble before God, and yet is steeped in the infinite exaltation that she is the single one among maidens who is above all blessed. Not alone and apart, but only in her Child is she made perfect in God, but in that, whether it be by the cradle or as queen of heaven, she is entirely content and blessed, without passion and yearning, with no other want, with no other aim to have or possess anything but that which she possesses.

The manifestation of this love under the aspect of its religious content expands in many directions, such as the annunciation, the visitation, the birth, the flight into Egypt, and other such incidents. We may also associate with it, during the later course of the Christ-life, the disciples and women, who follow Him, and in whom the love of God is more or less a personal relation of their love to the living, present Saviour, Who, as actual man, pursues His course[Pg 259] among them, and in like manner also the love of those angels who, on the occasion of His birth and at other times, hover around in grave adoration or simple joy. In treating all such figures the art of painting in particular discloses the complete peace and content of such a love.

But this peace, furthermore, is dissolved in the most heartfelt anguish. Mary the mother beholds Christ carrying the cross. She sees Him suffer on the cross and die; she sees Him taken from the cross and buried, and no grief is more poignant than her own. And yet we may observe that it is neither the irreparableness[262] of such a grief, or rather of such a loss, nor the weight of the calamity, nor the lament over the injustice of destiny, which constitutes the real content in such anguish, so that a contrast between it and the sorrow of Niobe is particularly instructive. Niobe, too, has lost all her children, and is set before us in severe loftiness and unperturbed beauty. The main content here is the aspect of the natural life of this ill-starred sufferer, the beauty in which Nature has robed her and which embraces the entire presentment of her actual existence. She, this actual personality, is beauty personified, and therein she persists. But her soul-life, her heart, has lost the entire content of its love, its soul, and her individuality and beauty can only turn into stone. The grief of Mary is of a wholly different type. She feels intimately the dagger which cuts through her soul's very centre, her heart breaks, but she does not become stone. She did not merely possess love, but her soul-life throughout is nothing but love, that is, free and concrete ideality, which retains the absolute content of that which it loses, and in the loss itself of the beloved persists in the peace of love. Her heart indeed breaks, but the substantive principle of her heart, the content of its life[263], which is disclosed through[Pg 260] her anguish of soul with a vital strength that can never be lost, is something infinitely more exalted, namely, the living beauty of the human soul, as contrasted with its abstract substance, whose ideal existence as presented in bodily shape, when it is lost remains indeed indestructible, but is turned to stone.

There is one further subject for painting in connection with Mary the mother of Jesus, and that is her death and assumption. Schoreel has with exceptional beauty depicted a death of Mary in which we find the charm of her youth once more restored[264]. This master has united in his picture the expression of somnambulism, presence of death, rigidity, and blindness towards the exterior world with one which seems to suggest that the spirit, which seems somehow to penetrate through their general aspect, has found a home elsewhere and is blessed therein.

(γγ)Thirdly, we must include within the sphere of the actual presence of God in the life, sufferings, and glorification of Himself, mankind at large[265], that is to say the consciousness of individual human life, which God, or more accurately the events of His history, constitutes as itself an object of His love, communicating to it a content which is not merely finite but absolute in its significance. Here, too, we may emphasize the three aspects of tranquil devotion, repentance, and conversion, which both from the point of view of the soul and that of external condition the history of the Divine Passion repeats to mankind, no less than the ideal consummation in glory and the blessedness of pure attainment.

In respect to the first of these, namely, devotion, we have here what is primarily the content of prayer. This relation is in one aspect of it a humbling, surrender of the self, the seeking of peace in another; from another point of view it is not a petition but rather a prayer[266]. Petition and prayer[Pg 261] are no doubt closely connected in so far, that is, as a prayer can be a petition. And yet the genuine petition seeks after something for itself. It importunes the man who possesses something of importance to myself, that he may feel inclined to do me a favour in virtue of the request, that his heart may yield, or his love may be roused toward me, in one word that his feeling of identity with myself may be awakened. What I, however, feel in making a petition is the desire for something, which the other person must lose if I am to secure it. The other person is to love me in order that my self-love may be satisfied, and my weal and necessity be promoted. I on the contrary give nothing further in the transaction unless it be contained in an admission that the person thus opportuned may ask for similar favours from myself. Prayer is not a petition of this type. It is an exaltation of the heart to the Absolute, which is assumed to be essentially Love, and as such possesses nothing independently[267]. The devotion itself is the gift, the petition itself is the blessedness. For although prayer may contain a petition for some particular thing, yet it is not this particular thing which is the true purport of the prayer; rather the essential truth of it is the conviction that the petition will be heard, and not heard in its relation to the particular request so much as to the absolute trust that God will apportion that which is best for me to receive. And thus even in such a connection prayer is itself its own satisfaction, the enjoyment, the express feeling and consciousness of eternal Love, which not only with its ray of illumination shines through the object[268] of prayer and its situation, but in fact constitutes the situation and what is there actually or is thereby manifested. It is this type of supplication which we find exemplified by Pope Sixtus in the picture of Raphael already mentioned[269], no less than by Santa Barbara in the same picture, and by many other representations of the prayers of apostles and saints, of Saint Francis[270] and the like at the foot of the Cross, where we find in the place of the suffering[Pg 262] of Christ, or the dismay, doubt, and despair of the disciples the love and adoration of God, and the prayer that loses itself in Him is selected as the significant content. We find such rendered with particular force for the most part on the countenances of aged men marked strongly with the sufferings and experience of life in the earlier period of painting, faces that appear to be portraits, souls permeated with devotional feeling to such an extent that this attitude of prayer does not merely appear to be experienced at this particular moment, but rather they are presented us as pious and saintlike persons whose entire life, thought, instinct, and volition is one prayer, and whose expression despite of all the truth of their portraiture may be summed up wholly in this assurance and peace of Love. It is otherwise, however, among many of the earlier German and Flemish masters. The subject of the altar picture in Cologne Cathedral is the adoring kings and patrons of Cologne. We find this subject too frequently selected by the school of Van Eyck. In such examples the persons who adore are frequently famous individuals, princes, as, for instance, in a well-known adoration picture, which has been taken for the work of Van Eyck, critics have identified two of the kings with portraits of Philip of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. In the case of personages of this type we see that they are something more than saints, have affairs in the world, and only go to mass on Sunday or in the early morning, but during the rest of the week or for the rest of the day have other business to look after. And more particularly in our Flemish or German pictures the patrons are pious knights, God-fearing housewives with their sons and daughters. They resemble Martha who fares hither and thither and is concerned with matters of external or mundane significance, rather than Mary who has selected once and for all the best part. Their piety is not deficient, it is true, in intensity and soul; but we do not find here the song of Love which is at once the beginning and end of it, and which is perforce not merely an exaltation, a prayer, or thanks for a gift received, but is as much its unique life as that of the nightingale.

We may summarize the distinction which can be drawn generally in pictures of this kind between saints and worshippers on the one hand, and pious members of the[Pg 263] Christian community as they actually appeared on the other, in the statement that the worshippers, more especially in Italian pictures, disclose in the expression of their piety a complete harmony of external and spiritual condition. It is their very soul which we find written for the most part on their countenances, which are not permitted to express anything opposed to the emotions of their heart. In the actual conditions of life this is not always the case. An infant, for example, when it weeps, more particularly when beginning to do so, quite apart from the fact that we know its grief is not worth the trouble of crying over, often makes us smile with its ugly faces. And in the same way old folk pucker up their face when they laugh, because the lines of their features are too pronounced, cold, and stiff to accommodate themselves readily to an unreserved and natural laugh or a friendly smile. The art of painting should endeavour to avoid this incompatibility between the emotions of piety expressed and the sensuous forms which have to express them, and, so far as possible, produce a harmony between the soul and its external mode of expression. And this in the highest degree was effected by the Italians; the Germans and Flemish were less successful, because the main object in their work was living portraiture.

I will add one further remark, that this devotion of the soul ought not to reach the point of the actual cry of anxiety, that cry of tribulation and desire, such as the Psalms and many Lutheran hymns express, and we may illustrate it with the old words: "As the hart crieth for the water-brooks, so crieth my soul for Thee." We may rather indicate it as a gradual melting away, not to that attenuation of sweetness perhaps we associate with the nun, but at any rate a surrender of the soul, and an enjoyment and satisfaction in such surrender. For that travail of faith, that anxious troubling of soul, that doubt and desperation which persists in disunion, such a type of hypochondriacal piety which never is certain whether it is still sin, whether there has been repentance and pardon is complete, a surrender, in which the soul can never advance a step, and is always betraying the fact by his anxiety, such a state is not compatible with the beauty of the romantic Ideal. We much prefer that the eye of devotion should raise its look of yearning[Pg 264] heavenwards, although it is both more artistic and gives us yet more satisfaction when it is centred on some present object of adoration, whether it be the Virgin Mother, Christ, or saint. It is a facile thing, only too facile, to attach to a picture a spiritual interest, by making its central figure gaze heavenwards, anywhere beyond the world, just as we find that nowadays people are only too ready to make use of an equally facile way of proving God and religion to be the foundation of society by quoting texts of the Bible rather than establishing such a basis on the reason of actual reality. Such a gaze of countenance upwards becomes in the pictures of Guido Reni[271], for example, a pure mannerism. The Assumption of the Virgin, too, which we find at Munich, has been much eulogized by its admirers and critics, and we may admit that the exalted character of its transfiguration, the absorption and surrender of the soul in the heavenly vision, and indeed the entire pose of the ascending figure, to say nothing of the brilliance and beauty of the colouring, is most impressive. But for myself I find such representations which depict the Virgin Mother in her own daydream of love and blessedness with her glance centred on her babe still more appropriate to her truth. The other type of yearning and strain, with its upward gaze heavenwards, is somewhat too near to our modern sentimentalism.

A further aspect of importance is concerned with the entrance of the principle of negation into the spiritual devotion of Love. The disciples, saints, and martyrs, have to pass through, in some measure as an experience of their souls, and in part, too, as one of their external life, that way of suffering along which the Christ in the history of His Passion passed before them.

This suffering lies to some extent on the confines of art. Painting can very easily overstep this boundary, in so far, that is, as it accepts for its subject-matter the horrors and terrors of the bodily torture, whether it be in flaying, or burning, or crucifixion, and its pains. This it is not permitted to do, if it is not to forsake the spiritual Ideal. This is not solely due to the fact that to present martyrs under such conditions to our sight is not beautiful to the[Pg 265] sense, nor because our nerves nowadays are too keenly strung, but on the better ground that this material aspect is not the really important one. The true content we have to follow with sympathy and which should be depicted is the spiritual experience, the soul in all that it suffers through Love, and not the direct bodily pain of a certain individual, the grief for the sufferings of another, or the anguish felt personally for personal demerit. The endurance of martyrs in physical tortures is an endurance which carries with it merely physical pain: what the spiritual Ideal looks for is the trial of the soul in its own domain, its own peculiar suffering, the wounds of its love, the repentance, mourning, anguish, and penance of its heart.

But we must add that in depicting this pain of soul the positive aspect must not wholly be absent. The soul must be assured of the actual and essentially consummated reconciliation between mankind and God, and only experience anxiety that this eternal salvation be realized as a truth in itself. In this connection we not unfrequently meet with repentant people, martyrs, and monks, who, despite of their assuredness of an objective atonement, partly are overwhelmed with sorrow for a heart whose entire surrender they deem to be right, and partly have already made such complete surrender, and yet are always for realizing such reconciliation anew, and consequently for ever imposing on themselves the burden of penances. And we find, therefore, in the artistic treatment of such situations a twofold point of departure. In other words, the artist may, to start with, presuppose in his subject an open disposition, freedom, cheerfulness, and decision of spirit, such as carries with ease life and the yoke of the actual world and knows how to readily deal with the same, then he may fitly associate with such painful experiences a native nobility, grace, freshness, freedom, and beauty of form. When, on the contrary, his work is based upon a natural sense that is more refractory, defiant, savage, and limited, the conflict of the spirit in overcoming the flesh and the world, and securing to itself the religion of salvation will necessarily imply more severe travail. In cases of such obstinacy of soul, therefore, the harsher reflections of force and stability are more apparent, the scars of the wounds which have been inflicted on an obstinacy of this[Pg 266] type are more visible and enduring, and the beauty of the physical result tends to vanish[272].

Thirdly, that positive aspect of atonement, the transfigurement that results from grief's travail, the blessedness that comes of repentance may be independently accepted as the subject of artistic presentment though it may readily pass into false conceptions.

Such, then, are the main distinguishing characteristics of the absolute spiritual Ideal regarded as the essential content of romantic painting. It forms the material of its most successful and solemn creations, works that are immortal by virtue of the depth of their contemplation; and when the representation of essential truth is thereby expressed they are nothing less than the most exalted expansion of the soul to its heaven of bliss, the most intimate and complete revelation of ideal life that an artist can bring before our vision.

Following this pre-eminently religious sphere of artistic production we have still to investigate two further fields of its activity.

(β) In direct contrast to the province of religion we have that which, if we consider it in its isolated abstraction, is equally destitute of the life of soul and God, Nature in its simplest terms, and regarded more definitely in its connection with painting, Nature's landscape. We have stated the character of the object of religion to be such that in it the substantive ideality of the soul expresses therein the indwelling sense of Love as united to the Absolute[273]. This inward ideality has, however, a further content. It is able to discover in that which is wholly external an accord with soul-life, and can recognize in the objective world as such traits which have an affinity with what is spiritual. Regarded in their immediacy, no doubt, hills, mountains, woods, valleys, streams, meadows, sunlight, moon, and the starry[Pg 267] heavens, are simply perceived to be the natural objects they are. But, in the first place, these objects have to start with an independent interest, in so far as it is the free life of Nature, which appears in them, and produces a sense of fellow feeling in the individual as one who shares that life himself; and, secondly, the particular changes of Nature's moods bring about states in the soul which correspond to such moods. It is possible for man to follow with his own life this animation of Nature and partake in this harmony of soul with its environment, and feel thereby at home in Nature. Just as the Arcadians spoke of a Pan, who made them shudder and frightened in the gloaming of the forest, in the same way the varied conditions of Nature's landscape in its gentle blithesomeness, its balmy repose, its spring-freshness, its wintry chill, its morning awakening and evening rest find their counterfeits in states of the soul. The tranquil depth of the ocean, the possibility that its depths may break forth with infinite power is akin to soul movements, just as conversely the roaring, upwelling, foaming, and break of storm-tossed waves stir the soul with concordant music. It is an ideal significance of this kind that the art of painting accepts as its object. And for this reason it is not natural objects merely as such in their external form and association which ought to constitute its true content, so that painting is nothing more than a mere imitation, but rather the animation of Nature's life, which interfuses it throughout and which is able to bring into prominence and assert with more vividness in the scenes of Nature reproduced the characteristic affinity of specific conditions of this life with particular spiritual states—it is a vital participation in Nature of this kind which gives us the meeting-point, steeped as it is in the soul-life and temperament of the artist, by means of which Nature may become the content of painting not merely as environment, but as possessing a distinct individuality[274].

(γ) There is yet further a third type of idealization which we find partly in the case where objects wholly insignificant are detached from the position they occupy in the landscape,[Pg 268] and, partly, in scenes of human life, which may appear to us not merely as wholly accidental as thus selected, but even of a kind that is both mean and commonplace. I have already found an opportunity for an attempt to justify the artistic selection of such subjects[275]. I will in connection with painting merely add the following remarks to our former discussion.

The art of painting is not merely concerned with the inward life of the soul, but with that ideal element that is essentially particularized[276]. This latter type of ideality for the reason that particularity is its principle is not content to rest satisfied with the absolute object of religion, and as little will merely accept from the external world Nature's vitality and its defined character as landscape; rather it insists on partaking of everything, in which man as an isolated individual soul can take a rational interest and find pleasure. Even in the case of its representations of religious material art, in proportion as it develops, it attaches such more closely to terrestrial conditions and the objects of actual vision, giving to its content the complete presence of natural existence, so that we ultimately find that the aspect of sensuous existence is most important and the interest of devotional life only so in a subordinate degree. For here, too, art receives the task to work out the Ideal in its fullest realization, in other words, to present to our senses that which is originally detached from them, to carry over objects taken from the remoteness of past life into present life and unite them with that present human life.

At our present stage of human evolution it is the ideality which we find in actual life as it faces us, in the circumstances of daily experience, the most common and the most trivial, which is the actual content.

(αα) If we inquire, then, what it is that makes a content of this kind, otherwise so poverty-stricken and indifferent, compatible with the claims of art, we must reply that it is the substantive core that is contained and made valid therein, in general terms the vitality and delight of self-subsistent[Pg 269] existence, exemplified in the greatest variety of its aims and interests. The life of mankind is always in the immediate Present. What a man may do in each moment thereof is something specific, and its justification consists in the fact that he carries through all his engagements, the least no less than the greatest, with heart and soul. In this way he is united with each particular incident, and, by infusing into each the entire force of his individuality, appears to identify his whole existence with such. This coalescence[277] produces that harmony of the individual with the specific character of his immediate activity in the circumstances that are nearest him, which is itself a mode of ideality, and which communicates in such a case to the subsistency of an existence, which is an exclusive and perfected whole, its attractive character. The interest, therefore, that we derive from representations of this kind is not to be attributed to the subject-matter, but rather to this animating soul, which by itself, and independently of that wherein it is disclosed as vital, finds an echo in every uncorrupted nature, in every free spirit, and is for the same an object of sympathy and delight. We must not, therefore, impair our enjoyment on the ground that the demand is made of us to admire such works of art under the aspect of their likeness to Nature so-called and such illusive imitation[278]. This demand, which works of this kind appear at first blush to support, is itself merely a deception which fails to hit the real point. For an admiration of this type is solely deducible from the wholly external comparison of a work of art and a work of Nature, and is only associated with the similarity of the counterfeit with an object or fact presented us, whereas the real content here and the artistic quality in the composition and execution is the coalescence of the matter portrayed with its own substance, which is the reality as independently depicted in its vital characterization. According to the principle of illusion, for instance, the portraits of Denner are entitled to our praise, which are, no doubt, imitations of Nature, but for the most part fail entirely to present us that vital animation[Pg 270] on which we lay the main stress in these cases, and are mainly concerned with depicting hair, wrinkles, and generally every kind of trait which, without exactly being indicative of a corpse, are equally remote from the human physiognomy depicted as alive.

Moreover, if we permit ourselves to level down our enjoyment through superficial thoughts of the above fashionable kind, believing subjects of this type to be mean and unworthy of our contemplation, we accept the content by doing so in a form other than that in which art offers them us. In other words we merely associate with them the relation in which we stand to them according to our personal needs, pleasure, such education as we otherwise possess and other objects we have before us, that is to say we merely conceive them in respect to their external purport, throughout which it is our own requirements which are the vital thing we aim at for ourselves, and the matter of all importance. The life of the subject-matter itself, however, is thereby destroyed, in so far, that is, as the sole object of its existence appears to be that of a means simply, or lapses into a thing of no moment at all, just because we personally have no need for it. A gleam of sunlight, for example, which falls upon a room we enter through an open door, a part of the country we travel through, a sempstress, a maid we happen to see busily engaged, one and all we may regard with indifference, because we suffer them to pass by remote from the thoughts and interests which are bound up with them, and consequently in our soliloquy, or conversation with another will not suffer the situations which actually lie before us to speak a word in the current of our own thoughts and speech; or we cast what is merely a passing glance at them, the summary of which does not amount to more than the remark, "how pleasant, fine, or ugly they are." Thus we are charmed with the joviality of dance of peasants, while we merely glance at it superficially, or turn away from it with contempt, because we are hostile to "every sort of barbarism." We treat in a similar way the human countenances we come across in our daily life, or which we happen to chance upon. Our own personal point of view, and the various matters which engage us are for ever being interposed. We are forced to address this or that[Pg 271] person in a certain way, we have affairs to despatch, we have certain things to consider, thoughts that affect our relation to such a person; we observe him under the particular circumstances of our knowledge; we regulate our conversation relatively to that, or we are silent upon it, if he may be likely to resent it—in short we have always in our minds the man's business, station, and status, and our attitude to and business with him, remaining in a wholly practical relation, or in a position of indifference and preoccupied inattention. Art, however, when it depicts such real life, wholly changes our attitude to it; it cuts away once and for all all practical deviations[279], such as we are wont to associate with such material; it places us simply in the attitude of abstract contemplation to it; and in the like degree it does away with its indifference, and directs our otherwise preoccupied attention wholly to the situation portrayed; upon which we must collect and concentrate all our faculties, if we are to enjoy it. Sculpture, in particular, by virtue of its ideal mode of production from the first strikes off all practical relation to the object to the extent that its product at once betrays the fact that it does not belong to this reality. Painting, on the contrary, carries us wholly into the presence of the daily life with which we are in immediate contact, but it furthermore destroys all the threads of practical necessity, attraction, inclination, or disinclination, which draw us to such a Present, or the reverse, and forces us to approach those objects more intimately as ends to themselves in their own particular phase or mode of life. What we meet with here is just the opposite to that which Herr von Schlegel, for example, in the tale of Pygmalion, expresses so very prosily as the return of the completed work of art to common life, that is to a relation of a man's own inclinations and an actual enjoyment, a return which is the very opposite of that alienation, in which the work of art places the objects delineated in their relation to our practical necessities, and, precisely by doing so, sets forth before us their own independent life and appearance.

(ββ) Just as, then, art, in this particular sphere, re-establishes the forfeited independence of a content, which we[Pg 272] otherwise failed to preserve in its unique characteristics, in the same way, secondly, it is able to secure in stability such objects as may happen to appear in actual existence in a form we are not accustomed to respect simply as such. The higher Nature stretches in its organization and shifting appearance the more it resembles the actor who only serves the present need. In this connection I have already emphasized the fact as a triumph of art over reality, namely, that it is able to fix that which is most evanescent. This power of art in attaching permanence to momentary things applies not only to the sudden flash of life we find concentrated in certain situations, but also to the magical effect of its external presentment in the rapid changes of its colour. A troop of horsemen, for example, may alter every moment in the mode of its grouping, and the mutual relation of each rider within it. If we were one of such we should have something else to do than consider the lively effect of such changes. We should have to mount, dismount, make up our haversack, eat, drink, rest, groom, drink and feed our horses: or, if we looked on as ordinary folk, we should look at such with wholly different interests. We should want to know what they are there for, what nationality they are, for what reason they have left their barracks, and so forth. The painter, on the contrary, smuggles off the most volatile of the movements, the most evanescent expressions of countenance, the most momentary gleams of colour apparent in such motion, and places such before us solely in virtue of its interest in the animation of such phenomena which without it would vanish. For especially it is the play of the colouring, not treated merely as flat tint, but in its lights and shadows, and in the prominence or subordination of the objects painted which is the reason that the representation appears lifelike, a fact which we are accustomed to observe in works of art less than such an aspect deserves, bringing as it does art first clearly to our minds. And, moreover, the artist preferably accepts in depicting these natural relations the effort of following the least detail, and making his work concrete, definite and stamped with individuality, endeavouring as he does to secure for his subject-matter the individuality which phenomenal life itself supplies in its most momentary[Pg 273] flashes; and yet withal does not so much seek for such a detail merely as imitated closely to strike our senses with its directness, but rather to furnish a definite image to the imagination in which at the same time the ideality of the entire composition remains active.

(γγ) The more insignificant the objects are, in comparison with the material of religion, which this particular phase of painting accepts for its content, to that very extent it is just this quality of artistic creation, the manner of observation, conception, elaboration, the vitality communicated by the artist to his work by all his individual faculties, in short the soul and living enthusiasm of his execution, which constitute a prominent aspect of its interest, and are part of its content. That which the subject treated is under his workmanship must, however, substantially remain what it is in fact and is capable of being. We believe, indeed, that we look upon something different, and novel, because in actual life we do not pay the same detailed attention to similar situations, and their manner of colouring. Looked at on the reverse side no doubt we have something, too, that is new added to such ordinary subjects, namely, just this very enthusiasm, artistic insight and spirit, the soul, in which the artist handles them, adapts them to his uses, and by doing so infuses the enthusiasm of his activity like the breath of a new life throughout all his work[280].

Such, then, are the essential points of view, which it was necessary to discuss in regard to the content of painting.

(b) The second aspect which we have next in order to examine is connected with the more particular modes of definition, to which the sensuous material, in so far as it has to accept in itself a given content, has to accommodate itself.

(α) The first of these of importance is the linear perspective. This is introduced as necessary, because painting has only the superficies at its disposal and no longer, as was the case with the bas-relief of antique sculpture, can extend its figures side by side on one and the same plane, but has to proceed to a mode of presentation, which finds it necessary[Pg 274] to make the remoteness of its objects in all their spatial dimensions merely appear as such to our senses. For the art of painting has to unfold the content it selects, to place the same in its various movement before our eyes, and to associate in different ways its figures with the landscape of external Nature, its buildings and so forth, in a wholly distinct grade of literalness to that which sculpture in the relief is able to secure. And that which painting in this respect cannot place before us in its actual degree of remoteness in the realistic manner of sculpture it must present under the illusion of reality. What we have first to notice here consists in this that the single surface which confronts painting is divided into distinct planes, apparently remote from one another, and by this means the contrasts of a near foreground and a remote background are secured, which furthermore are linked together by means of a middle distance. Inasmuch as the objects are, the more distant they are from the vision, proportionately reduced in size, and this deduction follows in Nature itself optical laws capable of mathematical determination, the art of painting, too, has on its part to follow the same rules, which, by virtue of the fact that objects are set forth on one surface, are applicable here in a particular way. And this is the rational ground of the so-called linear or mathematical perspective in the art of painting, whose more detailed exposition, however, it is not our business here to discuss.

(β) In the second place, however, objects are not only placed at a certain distance from one another, but they also differ in shape. This particular mode of their spatial limitation by virtue of which every object is made visible in its particular form is the subject-matter of draughtsmanship. The art of drawing gives us for the first time not merely the comparative distance of objects from one another, but their respective configuration. Its most important principle is accuracy of form and relative distance, which of course in the first instance is not as yet associated with ideal[281] expression, but related simply to external appearance, and consequently forms the purely external framework[282], an accuracy, however, which, more particularly in the case of organic[Pg 275] forms and their varied movements, is on account of the fore-shortenings thereby rendered necessary one of extreme difficulty. In so far as these two aspects are related purely to form and its spatial totality they constitute the plastic or sculpturesque features in painting, which this art, for the very reason that it expresses what is most ideal in its significance by means of external form, can as little dispense with as it can in another respect remain solely content with. For its supreme task is the employment of colour, and in such a way that in all that is truly painting distance and shape only attain and discover their genuine presentment by virtue of the distinctions of colour.

(γ) It is, therefore, colour, and the art of colouring, which make the painter a painter. We dwell with pleasure, no doubt, on the drawing, and exceptionally so on the study or sketch, as on that which pre-eminently betrays the quality of genius; but however rich with invention and imagination, with whatever directness the soul of an artist may assert itself in such studies by reason of the more transparent and mobile shell of their form, yet the fact remains to be painting we must have colour, if the work is not to continue abstract from the point of view of its sensuous material in the vital individuality and articulation of its objects. We must, however, at the same time admit that drawings and dry point drawings from the hand of great masters such as Raphael and Albrecht Dürer are of real importance. In fact from a certain point of view we may say that it is just these hand drawings which carry with them the finest interest. We find here the wonderful result that the entire spirit of the master is expressed directly in such manual facility, a facility which places with the greatest ease, in instantaneous work, without any preliminary essays, the essential substance of the master's conception. The border drawings of Dürer, for example, in the Prayer-book of the Munich library, are of indescribable ideality and freedom. Idea and execution appear in such a case to be one and the same thing, whereas in finished pictures we cannot avoid the sense that the consummate result is only secured after repeated over-paintings, a continuous process of advance and finish.

In despite of this, however, it is only through its employment of colour that the art of painting is able to give a real[Pg 276] and vital presentment to the wealth of soul-life. All the schools of painting have, however, not retained the art of colouring at the same high level. It is a significant fact that we may, with an exception here and there, assert that it is only the Venetians and the Dutch[283] who have become consummate masters in their use of it. Both peoples were linked to the sea-coast, both situated on a low-lying land divided by fens, streams, and canals. In the case of the Dutch we may find an explanation in the fact that, on account of their having so perpetually a cloud-covered horizon, their conception of a gray background became fixed in their minds, and owing to this very gloomy prepossession they were the more driven to study colour in all its effects and variety of lighting, shadow, and chiaroscuro, to emphasize this and to discover in this the main task of their artistic efforts. In contrast to that of the Venetians and the Dutch the painting of the Italians generally, if we except that of Correggio and one or two others, appears to be more dry, sapless, cold, and lifeless. Looked at more closely we may emphasize the following points in connection with the art of colouring as the most important.

(αα) In the first place we have the abstract basis of all colour in light and dark. When we posit this contrast and its transitions by themselves without further distinctions of colour effect, we get thereby simply the contrasts supplied us by white as light and black as shadow together with their transitional grades and nuances, contrasts which offer to the art of drawing its integrating quality, appertaining as they do to the real plastic character of form, and producing the prominence, retreat, rondure, and distance of objects. We may incidentally mention in this connection the art of engraving on the plate which is wholly concerned with light and shadow as such[284]. Apart from the infinite assiduity and labour it implies we find in this highly valuable art, at the point of its supreme attainment, soul intimately associated[Pg 277] with the utility of great variety of form[285], a variety which the art of bookbinding also possesses. Such an art, however, is not wholly occupied with effects of light and shade as that of simple draughtsmanship is; it endeavours further in its elaboration to become distinctly a rival of painting, and in addition to light and shade such as is purely the effect of illumination, also strives to express those distinctions of more emphatic light and darkness which are primarily the result of local colour; we find, for example, in a copperplate engraving that an attempt is made by its use of light effects to render visible the distinction between blond and black hair.

In painting, however, as already remarked, mere light and darkness only supply the fundamental basis, albeit such a foundation is of the greatest importance. For it is this contrast and only this which defines the comparative prominence and retirement, the rondure, and generally the actual appearance of form as sensuous shape, all that we understand by modelling. Masters of colour in this respect simply carry the process to the most extreme contrasts of the most brilliant light and the deepest shadow, and merely produce thereby their grand effects. Such contrasts are, however, only permissible in so far as they avoid harshness, that is, in so far as they are made within the limits of a just interplay of intermediate tones and colour transitions, which bind the entire composition in a fluid unity and render the finest gradations of tint possible. If such contrasts are entirely absent the entire effect will be flat, because it is precisely this distinction between that which is more brilliant and more obscure which gives emphatic prominence to particular aspects of the work and a like subordination to others. And especially in the case of compositions having a large content, and where the distance between objects is considerable, it is necessary to introduce the deepest shadow in order to make the scale of light and shadow a broad one.

With regard to the closer definition of light and shade we find that this depends more than anything else upon the[Pg 278] mode of lighting accepted by the artist. The light of day, that of morning, noon, and evening, sunlight or moonlight, a clear or clouded sky, the light of tempest, candle-light, a light that is veiled, or falls upon the object or diffuses itself gradually, every conceivable mode of lighting, in short, is possible, and the cause of every kind of effect. In treating a subject of public interest, full of incident, a situation that at once appeals to our common sense, the question of external lighting is of subordinate importance. The artist will avail himself here with most advantage of ordinary daylight, if, that is, the demands of dramatic vividness, and a desire to emphasize particular figures and groups, or to throw into the background others, do not render a less usual mode of lighting necessary, which may fall in more readily with such objects.

The great painters of the earlier school have consequently as a rule made little use of such contrasts or specific schemes of lighting. And they did rightly, inasmuch as their emphasis was rather on the spiritual aspect as such than on the sensuous impression of their pictures. And on account of the pre-eminent ideality and spiritual significance of the content they were able to dispense with the aspect of their work which inclined more or less to the material side. In the case of landscapes, on the contrary, and subjects of less importance taken from ordinary life, the question of lighting makes a very different appeal. In these important artistic and, often, artificial and mysterious effects are indispensable. In the landscape the bold contrasts between large masses in illumination and other parts in the strongest shadow will receive their full effect, but tend also to develop the artistic mannerism. Conversely we find, more especially in the treatment of landscape, reflections of light, the flash and its counterfeit, that wonderful echo of light, which arises from the interplay of light and dark, and offers an ample and progressive subject of study both to the artist and the spectator. Such a scheme of lighting, which the artist has either by direct imitation or imaginatively conceived in his work, can, however, by itself only be a transient one, which is subject to rapid change. However sudden or uncommon the lighting thus permanently retained may be, the artist must see in the treatment of his composition, even though[Pg 279] it be as full of movement as possible, that the whole, despite all its variety, is not injured by mere restlessness and wavering motive, but is throughout clear and marked with unity.

(ββ) In accordance with what has already been stated the art of painting, however, has not merely to express light and dark in its purely abstract intension, but to add to it the distinctions of colour. Light and shadow must be coloured light and shadow. We have therefore in the second place to discuss colour simply.

The first point we have to deal with here is the brightness and obscurity of particular colours respectively to one another, that is in so far as they are operative as light and dark in their varied relations, and either emphasize or suppress and impair their individual effect. Red, for example, and still more yellow, is at an equal grade of intensity more brilliant than blue. This is dependent upon the nature of the colours themselves, which in recent times Goethe has for the first time fully explained[286]. In other words, we find that in blue shadow is of main significance, which, in its first operation through a brighter, but not as yet fully transparent medium, appears to our sight as blue. The sky, for example, is dark, and on the highest mountains it is yet darker. Seen through a transparent but thick medium, such as the atmosphere of its lower planes is, it appears as blue, and its brightness increases in proportion as the air is less transparent. In the case of yellow, on the contrary, essential brightness works through a density, which, however, suffers this brightness to shine through it. Smoke, for example, is such an obscuring medium; looked at in front of anything black which works its way through it, it appears of a bluish tint, and before anything bright it appears yellow and reddish. Genuine red is the actively royal and concrete colour, in which blue and yellow, themselves also extremes of opposition, press together in fusion, We may also regard green as such a union, not, however, in a unity that is concrete, but merely as a difference that is cancelled, as a[Pg 280] medium of satiated and tranquillized neutrality[287]. These colours are the purest, simplest, and original cardinal colours. We may consequently find a symbolical significance in the way that the old masters made use of them. Especially is this so in their use of blue and red. Blue corresponds with the milder, sensuous, more tranquil aspect, a contemplation which is rich in feeling, in so far as it has obscurity for its principle, and offers no resistance, whereas the brightness therein rather suggests that which resists, produces, is alive and blithesome. Red corresponds with what is masculine, dominant, and royal, green with that which is indifferent and neutral. According to such symbolism for example, the Virgin Mary is frequently clothed in red where she is enthroned, and set before us as queen of heaven; where she is depicted as mother, she wears a blue mantle[288]. All the other colours in their endless variety must be regarded as mere modifications of the above, in which we must recognize a certain degree of shadow fused with the cardinal colours. In this sense no painter would call violet a colour[289]. Furthermore all these colours, in their mutual relation to each other, are respectively of greater brightness or obscurity, a fact that the artist must bear in mind if he is not to fail in getting the just tone which any particular section of his modelling or distance effects ought to have. In other words we have here a source of exceptional difficulty. In the countenance, for example, the lip is red, the eyebrow dark, black, brown, or, if blonde, at least darker as such than the lip; in the same way the cheeks with their reddish tint are more brilliant in colour than the nose, with its main impression of yellow, brownish, or greenish tint. Such portions of the face can readily receive a greater brightness and intensity owing to this local colour than is consonant with their modelling as parts of the whole. In sculpture, indeed in mere drawing too, such parts of a composition receive their light and shadow wholly in reference to their particular form and its manner[Pg 281] of lighting. A painter on the contrary must accept their local colouring, and this disturbs such a relation. Such a difficulty is even more obvious between objects more removed from one another. For the ordinary vision of sight it is our mind which determines the distance and form of such objects, not merely by means of their colour appearance, but also on a variety of other grounds. In painting, however, all that we have before us is colour, which as such is able to interfere with that which is demanded by mere brightness and darkness as such. The art of the painter, therefore, consists in his ability to resolve this contradiction, and so to arrange his colours that neither in their local tints, nor in their mutual relation in any other way, they impair the modelling as a whole. Only if success is secured in both respects are we likely to see the actual shape and colour of the objects realized in perfection. With what consummate art, for example, have the Dutch painted the sheen of satin dresses with all their variety of reflections and gradations of shadow in their folds, or the flash of silver, gold, copper, vessels of glass and velvet; and in the same way we may mention the lighting a Van Eyck gives to his jewels, gold borders, and metals. The colours by means of which the flash of gold is presented have nothing of metallic about them: looked at closely we merely see yellow, which by itself is of no great brightness. The entire effect is due on the one hand to the prominence of the form, and on the other to the contiguity of the mutual gradations of distinct colour tones.

A further aspect in the second place is the harmony of the colouring.

I have already observed that the very nature of the facts necessitates that colour should have itself an articulated system. And this complete result should appear. No fundamental colour should be wholly omitted, otherwise our sense of this integrated whole is lost. To an exceptional degree the old Italian masters and the Dutch satisfy us in this respect. We find in their pictures blue, yellow, red, and green[290]. It is this completeness which supplies the basis of our colour harmony. The colours, moreover, must be so[Pg 282] arranged that not merely their artistic contrast, but also their mediation and resolution, and a repose and reconciliation as the result of such, is made visible to the sight. Such effective contrast and repose in conciliated extremes is brought about partly by the way the colours are associated, and partly by the degree of intensity which characterizes each colour. In early painting it was principally the Dutch school[291], which employed the cardinal colours in their purity and their unimpaired brilliance, by which means the harmony is rendered more difficult by reason of the emphasis laid on contrast, but when secured should be pleasing to the eye. Where, however, the decisive character and force of colour is insisted on the nature of the subject-matter itself should be more definite and simple. And by attending to this a higher degree of harmony between colouring and content is also obtained. The important personages, for instance, must receive the colour that is most emphatic, and in their characterization, their entire deportment and expression should appear more imposing than the subordinate figures, who will receive merely the composite colours. In landscape painting the contrast of pure cardinal colours is less pronounced. In scenes, on the contrary, in which human figures are of most importance, and more particularly where drapery occupies large spaces of canvas, the more simple colours will be in their right place. In such we have a scene taken from the world of spiritual life, in which that which is inorganic, the natural environment, is more abstract, in other words must not appear in its natural completeness and isolated manner of effect, and the varied tints of landscape in all the profusion of their gradations are less suitable. As a rule the landscape is not so entirely fitted to the environment of human scenes as a room, or generally that which is architectural, inasmuch as situations which take place in the open air are in general not accepted from a class in which the life of soul without considerable reserve is manifested. If a man is placed before us with the open landscape around him it should appear simply as environment.[Pg 283] And in cases of this type it is right to make use of colours that are exceptionally prominent. But the use of such involves also boldness and power of execution. Sickly sweet, overpowered[292], doting faces are not the kind for such treatment. Such soft expressions, such over-diluted countenances, which, ever since Mengs gave them as people are wont to think typical of ideality, would be entirely pulverized by such decision of colour. In recent times and among us Germans, weak faces which have essentially nothing to say[293], carefully posed in ways that imagine themselves to possess grace, simplicity, and imposing character, are all the fashion. This lack of distinction, on the side of spiritual characterization, has its counterpart in and indeed produces a similar lack of definition in colour and tone, so that all colours are run together in one confusion, and forceless condition of mutilation and evaporization, and no real emphasis is laid on any. You cannot say that one suppresses another exactly, but then none adds contrast to another. It is no doubt a colour harmony of a kind, and frequently it impresses with its excessive sweetness and flattering endearment, but the note of distinction is absent. In this connection Goethe thus expresses himself in his observations added to the translation of Diderot's essay on painting: "Critics do not by any means admit that it is easier to make weak colour harmonious than a strong scheme: but it stands to reason when colour is strong, when colours are placed before us vividly, in that case the eye will experience their harmony or discord with greater vividness. If, however, we weaken our colours, employ some with brilliance, others in fusion, others in obscure squalour, then it is obvious no one will be able to say whether the picture he looks at is harmonious or not. One thing in any case we can say of it, it lacks distinction."

With harmony of colour, however, we have not by any means attained the goal of the art of colouring. To reach this consummate effect, in the third place, several other aspects must not be neglected. In this respect I will restrict[Pg 284] my observations to three points, first, the so-called atmospheric perspective, secondly, flesh-colour, and in conclusion, the magic of colour brilliancy.[294]

Linear perspective is connected in the first instance merely with the different degrees of size, which the lines of objects possess in their greater or less remoteness from the human eye. This alteration and reduction of form is, however, not the only thing painting has to reproduce. In Nature everything is affected by the presence of atmosphere, not merely between different objects, but even different parts of them, a difference which asserts itself in colour. This tone of colour which thus as it were evaporates with the distance is what constitutes atmospheric perspective, in so far as thereby objects are modified partly in deliberate outline, and partly in respect to their light and shadow and general colouring. As a rule people think that what is nearest to the eye in the foreground is brightest, and what lies in the background is more obscure; in truth the matter is otherwise[295]. But lights and shadows in the foreground are strongest, in other words the contrast between light and shade has a more powerful effect, and outlines are more defined near to the spectator. In proportion, however, to the degree of their remoteness, they lose in definition of colour and form, because the contrast of their light and shadow is gradually reduced, until finally everything disappears in transpicuous gray. Different schemes of lighting, however, necessitate in this respect various modes of treatment. In landscape painting more especially, but also in other compositions, which present large spaces, atmospheric perspective is of first importance, and the great masters of colour have carried out by this means the most bewitching effects.

[Pg 285]

The most difficult achievement in colouring, the ideal and consummation of its art, is the colour effect of the human flesh[296], which unites in its perfection all other colour tones, without permitting any particular one to be singly prominent. The healthy red in the cheeks of youth is, no doubt, pure carmine without any admixture of blue, violet, or yellow, but this red is itself only a flush, or rather a sheen, which appears to rise on the surface, and imperceptibly passes into the prevailing flesh-tints. And this is an ideal[297] commixture of all the fundamental colours. Through the transparent yellow of the skin the red of the arteries and the blue of the veins is visible, and along with the light and shade and all the variety of sheen and reflection we have further tones of gray, brown, even green, which at first sight appear as contrary to Nature, but for all that may contribute to the justness and truth of the effect. Moreover, this composite treatment of many apparent tints is wholly without sheen as such, that is, it reflects nothing alien to it on its surface; its vital quality is entirely a result of itself and the living thing it is. It is this rendering of that which is the life shining through the organic integument which constitutes the main difficulty. We may compare it to a lake in the evening glow, in which we behold the objects that it reflects[298] no less than the clear depth and native character of water. The flash of metal combines on the contrary, no doubt, both light of its own and transparency, jewels both flash and are translucent, and something similar is seen in the case of velvet and silk-stuffs, but none of these approaches the life-conferred interfusion of colours apparent on the surface of the living flesh. The skin of animals, whether hair or hide, wool, and so forth, are in like manner of the most varied colouring, but it is a colour capable of more direct and independent definition in its parts, so that the variety is rather the result of different surfaces and planes,[Pg 286] it is not a single transfusion and suffusion of many colours such as human flesh is. The nearest approach to it perhaps is the interplay of colour visible in the bunch of grapes, or the exquisitely tender gradations of translucent colour in the rose. And yet even this last example is unable to give us the counterfeit of ideal animation[299] which flesh-colour should possess. It is this volatile emanation of the soul exhibited on a non-transparent surface which is one of the most difficult problems of painting. For this ideality, this reflex of the inward life of soul must not appear on a surface as imported there, must not be pasted there as so many streaks, hatchings, and so forth of material colour, but seem to us itself to belong to the living whole[300], a transparent depth, as the blue of heaven, which offers our vision no repellent surface, but one in which we are infallibly invited to unfold. Already Diderot, in the essay on painting translated by Goethe, expressed himself as follows on this head: "He who once has truly felt and secured the apparition of flesh-colour is far on his way to perfect victory. Thousands of painters have died without such a feeling, and many thousands more will die without doing so."

In so far as the material is concerned, by means of which this untransparent vitality of flesh is reproduced, the first medium to declare its suitability for such an effect was the oil-pigment. Work in mosaics is of all the least fitting to present us such a composite effect. Its permanency is no doubt a recommendation, but inasmuch as it can only express colour gradations through variously coloured glass cubes or stones placed in juxtaposition, it is wholly unable to reproduce the intermingling flow of one unified presentment of many colours. Fresco and tempera painting carry us considerably further in this direction. Yet in the case of fresco-painting the colours are put on the wet plaster with too great rapidity, so that, on the one hand, the greatest facility and sureness of brushwork is an essential, and, on the other, the work has to be carried out with broad adjacent strokes, which on account of their drying so rapidly[Pg 287] do not admit of a fine degree of finish[301]. The same kind of difficulty meets us in the case of tempera-painting, a process[302] which no doubt admits of great lucidity of expression[303] and beautiful contrasts of light and shadow, yet for all that, by reason of the fact that its medium dries so quickly, is less adapted to the fusion and elaboration of its effects, and necessitates an articulate surface made up of definite strokes of the brush. The oil pigment, on the contrary, not only permits of the most tender and subtle melting together and elaborate fusion of colour effect, so that transitions are so imperceptible we cannot say where one colour begins and where it leaves off, but it is, where its component elements are properly fused and the execution of it is as it should be, itself remarkable for a luminous quality like that of precious stones, and it can, by virtue of its distinctions between opaque or transparent colours[304], reproduce in a far higher degree than tempera painting the translucency of different layers of colour.

The third and last point for our consideration in this connection is the emanation[305] and mystery of colour in its entire effect. This witchery of colour appearance will mainly be found, where the substantive ideality of objects has become an effusion of spirit which enters into the scheme and treatment of its coloured presentment. In general, we may say that the magic consists in a handling of colour by means of which we obtain an interplay of scenic effect which is devoid of defined articulation as such, which is, in fact, simply the result of moulding of colour in the finest degree of fluency, a fusion of coloured material,[Pg 288] an interplay of reflected points which pass into one another, and are so fine and evanescent in their gradations, so full of vital cohesion that the medium here seems already to have entered that of musical sound. From the point of view of modelling the mastery of chiaroscuro is part of this magic result, an aspect of the art in which among the Italians Leonardo da Vinci and, above all, Correggio were supreme. While introducing the very deepest shadow, the transparency of this is not only preserved, but is carried through imperceptible gradations to the most brilliant light. By this means roundness in the moulding of form is complete; there is no harshness of line or limit, but all is equable transition. Light and shadow are not here merely in their immediate effect as such, but gleam through one another much as a spiritual force is operative through an external shell. It is just an effect like this we find in the artistic treatment of colour, and the Dutch were no less than others consummate masters of this. By virtue of this ideality, this mutual relation between the parts, this interfusion of reflections and colour scintillations, this alternation and evanescence of transitional tones, a breath of soul and vitality is throughout communicated in the brilliancy, depth, the mild and juicy illumination of colour. It is this which gives us the magic effect of a masterpiece of colour; it is the unique gift of the genius of the artist who is himself the magician.

(γγ) And this brings us to the last point we have to discuss on this part of our subject.

We started with the linear perspective, we passed on then to drawing and concluded with colour; first considering light and shade in its relation to modelling, and, secondly, viewing it as colour simply, or more accurately, as the mutual relation between degrees of brightness and darkness in colours, regarding it, moreover, in its aspects of harmony, atmospheric perspective, flesh-colour and magical effect. We have now to consider more directly[306] the creative impulse of the artist in bringing about such colour effects.

The ordinary view is that the art of painting follows[Pg 289] definite rules in attaining its results. This is, however, only true of the linear perspective, being as it is a wholly geometrical science, and even in this case rules must not obtrude themselves in their abstract stringency, if we are to preserve all that essentially contributes to our art. And, in the second place, we shall find that artistic drawing accommodates itself even less readily than perspective to universal rules, but least of all is this true of colouring. Sense of colour ought to be an artistic instinct or quality, should be as much a unique way of looking at and composing existing tones of colour, as it should be an essential aspect of creative power and invention. On account of this personal equation in the production of colour, the way, that is, the artist looks at and is active in the making of his world, the immense variety which we find in different modes of treating, it is no mere caprice and favourite mannerism of colouring, which is absent from the facts in rerum natura, but lies in the nature of the case. Goethe supplies us with an example of personal experience which, as confided in his "Dichtung und Wahrheit," illustrates what I mean: "As I returned to my cobbler's house [he had just visited the Dresden Gallery] once more to take lunch I could scarce trust the evidence of my eyes. I believed myself to see before me a picture of Van Ostade[307], so complete it was, that you might have hung it there and then in the Gallery. Composition of subject-matter, light, shadow, brown tone of the whole, all that is admirable in this artist's pictures I saw actually before me. It was the first time that I was aware, to such a high degree of the power which I subsequently exercised with intention, the power of seeing, that is, with the eyes of the particular artist, to whose works I had just happened to devote exceptional attention. This facility afforded me great enjoyment, but also increased the desire from time to time to persevere in the exercise of a talent which Nature seemed ungracious enough to disallow me[308]." This variety in the manner of colouring is exceptionally conspicuous in the painting of human flesh, quite apart from all modifications rendered necessary by the mode of[Pg 290] lighting, age, sex, situation, and the like considerations. And for the rest, whether the subject depicted be daily life, outside or within the interior of private houses, taverns, churches, or other buildings, or it be that of Nature's landscape, with its wealth of objects and colour, which finds more or less accurate reflection in the personal essay of any particular painter, the result cannot fail to illustrate this varied play of form and colour effect[309], which will infallibly appear, due as it is to the manner in which each comprehends, reproduces, and creates his own work according to his own outlook, experience and imaginative powers.

(c) We have hitherto, in discussing the several points of view which are given effect to in the art of painting, referred, firstly, to its content, and secondly to the sensuous medium in which such content can be built up. We have in conclusion to define the mode under which the artist is bound to conceive and execute his content as a painter and under the conditions of his particular medium. We will divide the very considerable matter which such an investigation implies in the following manner:

First, we have to deal with the more general distinctions in forms of conception, which it will be necessary to classify and follow in their progressive advance to richer manifestations of life.

Secondly, we shall have to direct attention to the more definite aspects, which, within these general types of conception, are more directly referable to genuine pictorial composition, that is, the artistic motives apparent in the particular situation and manner of grouping selected.

Lastly, we propose to review rapidly the mode of characterization, which results from distinctions of subject-matter no less than modes of conception.

(α) With respect to the most generally prevailing modes of artistic conception[310], we shall find these are in some measure due to the content which has to be depicted, and in part are referable to the course of the art's evolution,[Pg 291] which does not from the first seek to elaborate all that is apparent in any subject, but rather through a variety of stages and transitions makes itself fully mistress of Life and its manifestations.

(αα) The first position which the art of painting is able to secure still betrays its origin from sculpture and architecture: in the entire mode of its conception it is still in close association with these arts. And this will pre-eminently be the case where the artist restricts himself to individual figures, which he does not place before us in the vital connections of an essentially concrete situation, but in the simple independence of its self-repose. Out of the many sources of content which I have indicated as adapted to painting, we shall find religious subjects, Christ, his apostles, and the like are exceptionally suited to such abstract treatment. Such figures as these must necessarily be assumed to possess sufficient significance in their isolation, to be complete in themselves, and to unfold an object sufficiently substantive of adoration and love. Belonging to this type, particularly in early art, we meet with examples of Christ or his saints isolated without definite situation and environment. If we do find the latter it mainly consists in architectural embellishments, particularly Gothic; this is frequently the case in early Flemish or upper German art[311]. In this relation to architecture, among the columns and arches of which such figures as the twelve apostles and others are frequently composed, painting does not as yet attain to the life-like actuality of its later development, and we find that even the figures still retain in some measure a character which inclines to the statuesque, or to some extent do not move beyond such a general type as we find indicated in its fundamentals by Byzantine painting. For isolated figures of this character, devoid of any background or only retaining a purely architectonic outline, a more severe simplicity of colour, and a more emphatic brilliancy, is as it should be. The oldest school of painters have consequently employed a single-tinted ground of gold instead of a rich natural landscape, a ground which the colours of drapery have to confront, and to which they are compelled to adapt themselves;[Pg 292] these are consequently more decisive and glaring than the colours employed in the periods of Art's finest bloom, just as we find as a rule that simple vivid colours such as red, blue, and the rest are most pleasing to uncultivated people.

To this earliest type of conception it is that for the most part the miracle-working pictures belong. To such as to something stupendous man is merely placed in a relation of stupidity, from which the aspect of their artistic merit vanishes, so that they are not brought nearer to his conscious life in friendly guise in accordance with their vital humanity and beauty, and the very pictures which are most revered in a religious sense are from an artistic standpoint the most execrable.

If, however, isolated figures of this type do not supply an object for devotion or interest as being already complete and independent personality, their execution, carried out as it is in consonance with the principle of statuesque conception, has no meaning at all. Portraits, for example, are of interest to relatives who know the man thus portrayed and his individuality. But where the personages thus depicted are forgotten or unknown the sympathy which is excited by their portraiture in a given action or situation, which gives definite content to a particular character, is of a wholly different kind to that which we find in the entirely simple type of conception above referred to. Really great portraits, when they face us in the fullest wealth of life all the means of art can display, possess in this wealth itself the power to stand forth from and step out of their frames. In looking at the portraits of Van Dyck, for example, more particularly when the pose of the figure is not wholly full face, but slightly turned away, the frame has struck me like the door of the world, which the man before me enters. When consequently individuals do not possess, as saints, angels and the like do, a characterization which is in itself sufficiently complete and acknowledged, and are only interesting by virtue of the definite character of a given situation, some single circumstance or particular action, it is not suitable to present them as independent figures. As an example of this the last work of Kügelchen in Dresden was a composition of four heads, half figures, namely, Christ, John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, and the Prodigal Son. So far as Christ[Pg 293] and John the Evangelist are concerned I found the conception quite appropriate. But in the case of the Baptist, and in every respect in that of the Prodigal Son, I failed to connect with them the authentic character which could justify a treatment of them as half-length portraits. In such cases it is essential to place the figures in a condition of action or incident, or at least to show them in situations, by means of which, in vital association with external environment, they can assert the individuality which marks an essentially exclusive whole. The head of the Prodigal Son in the above picture expresses no doubt, very finely too, pain, profound repentance and remorse, but the only indication we have given us that this is the repentance of the Prodigal Son is a very diminutive herd of swine in the foreground. Instead of a symbolical reference of this kind we ought to see him among his swine, or at least in some other scene of his life. The Prodigal Son, in short, does not possess for us any further general characterization complete as such in our minds and only exists, in so far as he is not purely allegorical, in the well-known scenes of Biblical narrative. He should be depicted to us as leaving his father's house, or in his misery, his repentance and return, that is, in the concrete facts of the tale. Those swine put in the foreground do not carry us much further than a label with "The Prodigal Son" written on it.

(ββ) And generally it is obvious that painting, for the reason that its function is to accept as its content the wealth of soul-life in all its detail, is, to a yet greater extent than sculpture, unable to rest satisfied with that repose on itself which is without defined situation and the conception of a character taken by itself and alone simply. It is bound to make the effort to exhibit such self-subsistency and its content in specific situation, variety, and distinction of character viewed in their mutual relations and in association with their environment. It is, in fact, just this departure from purely eclectic and traditional types, from the architectonic composition of figures and the statuesque mode of conception; it is just this liberation from all that is devoid of movement and action, this striving after a living human expression, a characteristic individuality; it is this investment of a content with all the detail of the ideal and external condition that affects it which constitutes the advance of the art, in virtue[Pg 294] of which it secures its own unique point of view. Consequently to painting as to no other plastic art is it not merely permitted, but it is even required from it, that it should unfold dramatic realization, and by the composition of its figures display their activity in a distinctly emphasized situation.

(γγ) And, in the third place, closely connected with this absorption in the complete wealth of existing life and the dramatic movement of circumstance and character, we are aware of the importance which is increasingly attached, both in conception and execution, to the individuality and the vital wealth of the colour aspect of all objects, in so far as in painting we attain to the supremest effects of vital truth which are capable of being expressed purely by colour.

This magical result of appearance can, however, be carried to such a pitch, that in contrast to it the exhibition of content becomes a matter of indifference, and painting tends to pass over, in the mere charm and perfume of its colour tones, and the contrast, fusion, and play of their harmonies, into the art of music, precisely as sculpture, in the elaboration of its reliefs, tends to associate itself with painting.

(β) What we have in the first instance now to pass in review are the particular lines[312] that pictorial composition is constrained to adhere to in its productions when presenting to us a definite situation and the more immediate motives referable to it by virtue of the way it concentrates and groups together various figures and natural objects in one self-exclusive whole.

(αα) What is of fundamental and pre-eminent importance here is the happy selection of a situation adapted to the art.

In this respect the imaginative powers of the painter possess an immeasurable field to select from, a field whose limits extend from the simplest situation[313] of an object insignificant in itself, such as a wreath of flowers, or a wineglass composed with plates, bread, and certain fruits, to rich compositions of important public events, political actions, coronation fêtes, battles, or even the Last Judgment, in which[Pg 295] God the Father, Christ, his apostles, the heavenly legions, nay, our entire humanity, and earth, heaven, and hell are brought together. And here a closer inspection will show us that we must clearly distinguish what is truly pictorial on the one hand from that which is sculpturesque, and on the other from what is poetical in the sense that it is only poetry that can fully express it.

The essential difference between a pictorial, and sculpturesque situation consists, as we have already seen, in this, that the main function of sculpture is to place before us that which is self-subsistent in its tranquillity, without conflict under conditions that do not affect it, in which distinctness of definition is not the main demand, it is only in the relief that it really begins to approach a group composition, and an epic expanse of figures begins to represent actions involving motion, and which imply collision of opposing forces. The art of painting, on the contrary, only thoroughly takes up its proper task, when it moves away from figures composed independently of their more concrete relations, moves away from a situation that is deficient in its elaboration, in order that it may thus pass into the sphere of living movement, human conditions, passions, conflicts, actions in persistent association with external environment, and even in its composition of natural landscape is able to retain firmly this definite structure of a given situation and its most lifelike individuality. It was for this reason that from the first we maintained that painting was called upon to effect the exposition of character, soul, and ideal qualities, not in the way that this spiritual world enables us to recognize it directly in its external shape, but in the way it evolves and expresses its actual substance by means of actions.

And the truth we have just mentioned is that which brings painting into closer relation with poetry. Both arts have in this respect an advantage[314], and from another point of view, also a disadvantage. Painting is unable to give us the development of a situation, event, or action, as poetry or music, that is to say, in a series of changes; it can only embody one moment of time. A simple reflection is deducible from this, namely, that we must in this one moment[Pg 296] have placed before us the substance of the situation or action in its entirety, the very bloom of it; consequently, that moment should be selected in which all that preceded and followed it is concentrated in one point. In the case of a battle, for example, this moment will be that of victory. The conflict is still apparent, but its decisive conclusion is equally so. The artist is able, therefore, to retain as it were the residue of the Past, which, in the very act of withdrawal and disappearance, still asserts itself in the Present, and furthermore can suggest what has yet to be evolved as the immediate result of a given situation. I cannot, however, here enlarge further on this head. The painter, however, together with this disadvantage as against the poet, is to this extent advantaged in that he can bring the precise scene before our vision in all the appearance of its reality, can depict it perfectly in all its detail. "Ut pictura poesis erit" is no doubt a favourite saying which is particularly and pertinaciously advanced by theorists, and is no doubt actually accepted and exemplified by narrative poetry in its descriptions of the seasons, its flowers, and its landscapes. Detailed transcription of such objects and situations is, however, not only a very dry and tedious affair, and indeed, so far from being exhaustive, always leaves something more to say. It is, further, contrasted with painting, only a confusing result, because it is forced to present as a successive series of ideas what painting sets before our vision once and for all, so that we constantly tend to forget what has gone before and lose it from our minds, despite the fact that it should be held in essential relation with that which follows, inasmuch as under the spatial condition it is in fact a part of it, and only is significant in this association and this immediacy. It is, however, just in this contemporaneous exposition of detail that the painter can restore that which, in respect to the progressive series of past and future events, he fails to secure.

There is, however, another respect in which painting yields place to poetry and music, and that is in its lyrical quality. The art of poetry can not only develop emotions and ideas generally as such respectively, but also in their transitions, movement, and increased intensity. In respect to concentrated intensity this is yet more the case in music,[Pg 297] which is essentially concerned with soul-movement. To represent this painting has nothing beyond the expression of face and pose; and if it does exclusively direct its effort, to what is actually lyrical, it misconceives the means at hand. However much the soul's passion may be expressed in the play of the countenance or bodily movement, such expression should not be directly referable to emotion as such, but to emotions in so far as they are present, with a definite mode of expression, in an event or action. The fact that it reveals ideality in external form therefore does not connote the abstract meaning that it makes the nature of the soul visible by means of physiognomy and form, under the mode of which it expresses soul-life; it is rather just the individual situation of an action, passion in some specific outburst thereof, by means of which the emotion is unfolded and recognized. When, therefore, it is attempted to interpret the poetical quality of painting under the assumption that it should express the soul's emotion directly, without a motive and action more near to it in facial expression and pose, all that we do in such a case is to throw the art back upon an abstraction, which its effort should precisely strive to be rid of; we ask of it, in short, that it should master the peculiar and just contribution of poetry; and if it attempts to do this the result will be a barren and stale one.

I particularly insist on this point because in the exhibition of art we had here last year (1828) several pictures from the so-called Düsseldorf school have received much attention, the painters of which, while displaying in their work considerable knowledge and technical ability, have laid almost exclusive stress on this ideal aspect, on material that is only capable of adequate presentment in poetry. The content, for the most part borrowed from poems of Goethe or from Shakespeare, Ariosto, and Tasso, may be generally indicated as the ideal emotion of Love. As a rule the most capable of these pictures set before us a pair of lovers, Romeo and Juliet, for example, or Rinaldo and Armida, without any further situation, so that these couples have nothing more to do and express except the fact that they are in love with each other, in other words, they share a mutual attraction, gaze on each other as lovers, and as lovers look yet again.[Pg 298] Naturally in such a case the main expression must be concentrated in the mouth and eyes; and we may add that our Rinaldo has been so placed relatively to his spider legs that he looks very much as though he did not know what to do with them. They are extensions which are entirely without meaning. Sculpture, as we have seen, dispenses with the glance of eye, the soul-flash; painting, on the other hand, seizes on this potent means of expression, but it must not focus everything at this one point, it should not make the fire or the refluent languor and yearning of the eye or soft friendliness of lips the soul and centre of expression without any other motives. Equally defective was the fisherman of Hübner, the theme of which was borrowed from that famous poem of Goethe, which depicts with such wonderful depth and charm of feeling the indefinite yearning for the repose, coolness and purity of water. The naked fisher lad, who in this picture is being drawn into the water, has, just as the male figures in the other pictures have, a very prosaic looking face, such as we could not imagine, if the features were in repose, to be capable of profound or beautiful emotions. And, as a rule, we cannot assert of these figures, whether male or female, that they are beautiful in a healthy sense; they, on the contrary, merely betray the nervous excitement, weakness, and disease of Love and emotional life generally, which people have no business to repeat and which we would willingly, whether in life or Art, be spared. To the same class of conception belongs the way that Schadow, the master of this school, has depicted Goethe's Mignon. The character of Mignon is wholly poetical. What makes her interesting is her Past, the severity of her destiny as it affects both her inward and outward life, the conflict of her Italian, wholly excited passion in a soul which is still obscure to itself, which can neither decide upon a course of action or object, and which, being this mystery to itself, merges itself in such and yet can do itself no good. It is this self-expression wholly divided in itself and yet retiring into itself, and only letting us see its confusion in isolated and unrelated eruptions, which creates the awful interest we cannot fail to experience in her. Such a network of contradictions we may no doubt imagine in our minds, but the art of painting is wholly unable to, present it to us, as[Pg 299] Schadow has attempted to do, simply by means of Mignon's form and physiognomy, without defining further any situation or action. We may, therefore, assert generally that the above-mentioned pictures are conceived without any real insight for situations, motives, and expression. It is, in short, an inseparable condition of genuine artistic representations of painting that the entire subject-matter should be grasped with imaginative power, should be made visible to us in figurative form, which is expressed and manifests its ideal quality through a series of feeling, that is, through an action, which is of such significance to the emotion, that each and everything in the work of art appears to be entirely appropriated by the imagination to express the content selected. The old Italian painters have to a conspicuous degree, no less than their modern fraternity, depicted love-scenes, and in part borrowed the material from poetry; but they have known how to clothe the same with imagination and delight. Cupid and Psyche, Cupid and Venus, Pluto's rape of Proserpine, the rape of the Sabine women, such and other similar subjects the old masters depicted in lifelike and definite situations, in scenes properly motived and not merely as simple emotion conceived without imaginative grasp, without action. They have also borrowed love scenes from the Old Testament. We may find an example in the Dresden Gallery, a picture of Giorgione, in which Jacob, after his long journey, greets Rachel, presses her hand and kisses her; in the distance there stand a pair of youths by a spring, busily engaged in watering their herds, which are feeding, a large number of them, in the dale. Another picture presents to us Isaac and Rebecca. Rebecca gives Abraham's carls water to drink and is recognized in doing so. In the same way scenes are taken from Ariosto; we have Medor, for example, writing the name of Angelica on the edge of a spring. When, therefore, people nowadays refer to poetry in painting, this can only mean, as already insisted, that we must grasp a subject imaginatively and suffer emotions to unfold themselves in action; it excludes the idea of securing feeling simply as such or endeavouring thus to express it. Even poetry, which is capable of expressing emotion in its ideal or spiritual substance, is unfolded in ideas, images, and descriptions.[Pg 300] If this art was content to abide by a mere "I love thee," repeated eternally, as its entire expression, such a consummation no doubt, might prove highly agreeable to those masters who have talked so much about the poetry of poetry, but it would be the blankest prose for all that. For art generally in its relation to emotion consists in the apprehension and enjoyment of the same by means of the imagination, which in poetry displays passion in its conceptions, and satisfies us in their expression, whether that expression be lyrical, or conveyed in epical events, or dramatic action. As a presentment of the inward life of soul, however, in painting the mouth, eye, and pose, do not alone suffice; we must have the total objective realization in its concreteness to make valid and vouch for such ideality.

The main thing, then, in a picture is that it present to us a situation, the scene of some action. And closely associated with this we have the primary law of intelligibility. In this respect religious subjects possess the supreme advantage, that they are universally known. The annunciation of the angel, the adoration of the shepherds or of the three kings, the repose in the flight to Egypt, the crucifixion, burial, resurrection, no less than the legends of the saints, were well known subjects with the public, for whom such pictures were painted, albeit to our own generation the stories of the martyrs are removed to some distance. For a particular church, for example, it was mainly the biography of its patrons or its guardian saints which was represented. Consequently it was not always the painters themselves who selected such subjects; particular circumstances rendered such selection inevitable for particular altars, chapels, and cloisters, so that the place where they are exhibited in itself contributes to their elucidation. And this is, in part, necessary, for in painting we do not find speech, words, and names, by which interpretation of poetry may be materially assisted to say nothing of all its other means. And in the same way in a royal residence, council-hall, or parliament-building, scenes of great events, important situations taken from the history of the state, city, and building in which they are found are there, and receive a just recognition in the place for which they were originally painted. It is hardly likely, for instance, that in painting a picture for one[Pg 301] of our palaces an artist would select a subject borrowed from English or Chinese history, or from the life of King Mithridates. It is otherwise in picture galleries, where we have all kinds of subjects brought together that we could wish to buy or possess as examples of fine works of art. In such a case, of course, the peculiar relation of any picture to a definite locale, no less than its intelligibility, so far as it is thereby promoted, disappears. The same thing is true of the private collection. The collector brings together just what he can get; the principle is that of a public gallery, and his love of art or caprice may extend in other directions.

Allegorical pictures are far inferior to those of historical content in the matter of intelligibility; they are, moreover, for the reason that the ideal vitality and emphatic characterization of the figures must in great measure pass out of them, indefinite, and not motive to enthusiasm. Landscapes and situations borrowed from the reality of daily life, are, on the contrary, no less clear in their substantial import than, in respect to their characterization, dramatic variety, movement and wealth of existence, they supply a highly favourable opportunity for inventive power and executive ability.

(ββ) To render the defined situation of a picture intelligible, in so far as the artist is called upon to do this, the mere fact of its local place of exposition and a general knowledge of its subject will not suffice. As a general rule, these are purely external relations, under which the work as a work of art is less affected. The main point of real importance consists, on the contrary, in this that the artist be sufficiently endowed in artistic sense and general talent to bring into prominence and give form to the varied motives, which such a situation contains, with all the bounty of invention. Every action, in which the ideal world is manifested in that which is external, possesses immediate modes of expression, sensuous results and relations, which, in so far as they are actually the activities of spirit, betray and reflect its emotion, and consequently can be utilized with the greatest advantage as motives which contribute to the intelligibility of the work no less than its individual character. It is, for example, a frequent criticism of the Transfiguration[Pg 302] picture of Raphael, that the composition is cut up into two unrelated parts; and this from an objective standpoint is the case. We have the transfiguration on the hill and the incident of the possessed child in the foreground. From an ideal[315] point of view, however, an association of supreme significance is undoubtedly present. For, on the one hand, the sensuous transfiguration of Christ is just this very exaltation of himself above the earth and his removal from his disciples, a removal which as such separation ought to be made visible; and from a further point of view the majesty of Christ is in this, an actual and particular case, to the highest degree emphasized by the fact that the disciples are unable to heal the possessed child without the assistance of their Master. In this instance, therefore, this twofold action is throughout motived, and the association is enforced before our eyes, both in its external and ideal aspect, by the incident that a disciple expressly points to Christ who is removed from them, and in doing so suggests the profounder truth of the Son of God to be at the same time on Earth, in accordance with the truth of that saying, "If two are gathered together in my name I am in the midst of them." I will give yet another illustration. Goethe on one occasion gave as a subject for a prize exhibition the representation of Achilles in female garments at the coming of Odysseus. In one drawing Achilles glances at the helmet of the armed hero, his heart fires up at the sight, and in consequence of this emotion the pearl necklace is broken which he wears round the neck. A lad seeks for and picks up the pieces from the ground. Such is an example of admirable motive.

Moreover, the artist finds he has to a more or less extent large spaces to fill in; he requires landscape as background, lighting, architectonic surrounding, and he has to introduce incidental figures and objects and so forth. All this material he should apply, in so far as it can be so adapted, as motives in the situation, and bring this external matter into unity with his subject in such a way that it is no longer insignificant. Two princes or patriarchs shake hands. If[Pg 303] this is indicative of a peace treaty, and the seal upon the same, warriors, armed bands, and the like, preparations for a sacrifice to solemnize the pact, will be an obviously fitting environment. If such people happen to meet each other with a similar welcome on a journey, other motives will be necessary. To invent the same in a way that attaches real significance and individualization to the action, this it is which more than anything else will test the artistic insight of the painter so far as this aspect of his work is concerned. And in order to promote this not a few artists have also attached symbolical relations between background and the main action. In the composition, for example, of the Adoration of the three Kings, we not unfrequently find the holy Infant in His cradle beneath a ruined roof, around Him the walls of a building falling in decay, and in the background the commencement of a cathedral. The falling stone-work and the rising cathedral directly suggest the victory of the Christian church over paganism[316]. In the same way we find, not unfrequently, in pictures, more especially of the Van Eyck school, which depict the greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary, flowering lilies like stamens. They indicate the maidenhood of the mother of God.

(γγ) Inasmuch as in the third place the art of painting, by virtue of the principle of ideal and external variety, in which it is bound to give clear definition to situations, events, conflicts, and actions, is forced to deal on its way with many kinds of distinction and contradiction in its subject-matter, whether purely natural objects or human figures, and, moreover, receives the task to subdivide this composite content, and create of it one harmonious whole, a way of posing and grouping its figures artistically, becomes one of the most important and necessary claims made upon it. Among the crowd of particular rules and definitions, however, which are applicable to this subject, what we are able to affirm in its most general terms can only be valid in quite a formal way, and I will merely draw attention shortly to a few of the main points.

The earliest mode of composition still remains entirely[Pg 304] architectonic, a homogeneous juxtaposition of figures or a regular opposition and symmetrical arrangement, not merely of the figures themselves, but also their posture and movements. We may add that at this stage the pyramidal form of grouping is much in favour. When the subject is the Crucifixion of our Lord such shapes follow as a matter of course. Christ is suspended on high from the cross, and at the sides we have a group of the disciples, Mary the mother, or saints. In pictures of the Madonna also, in which Mary is seated with her Child on a raised throne, and we find adoring apostles, martyrs, and so forth, beneath them on either side we have a further illustration of this form. Even in the Sistine Madonna picture this mode of grouping is still in its fundamental features retained. And, generally, it brings repose to the eye because the pyramids, by virtue of its apex, makes the otherwise dispersed association coherent, giving an external point of unity to the group[317].

Within the limits, however, of such a generally abstract symmetrical composition, the pose of the figures may be marked in detail by great vividness and individuality, and equally the general expression and movement. The artist, while using in combination the means of his art, will have his several planes, whereby he is able more definitely to emphasize the more important figures as against the others; and he can in addition avail himself of his scheme of lighting and colour. The way he will arrange his groups to arrive at this result is sufficiently obvious. He will not, of course, place his main figures at the sides, or place subordinate ones in positions which are likely to attract the highest attention. And similarly he will throw the strongest light on objects which are part of the most significant content, rather than leave them in shadow, and emphasize with such strong light and the most conspicuous tints objects which are incidental.

In the case he adopts a method of grouping less symmetrical, and thereby more life-like, the artist will have to take especial pains not to make the figures press too closely[Pg 305] on each other, which results in a confusion not unfrequently noticeable in certain pictures; we should not be under the necessity of having first to identify limbs and discover which belong to which, whether they be arms, legs, or other properties, such as drapery, armour, and so forth. It will, on the contrary, be wisest in the case of larger compositions, in the first instance no doubt, to separate the whole into component parts easily ascertained, but, at the same time, not to isolate them in dispersion entirely. And particularly will this be advisable where we have scenes and situations, which on their own account naturally tend to a broad and disunited effect such as the gathering of manna in the wilderness, market-fairs, and similar subjects.

On the above subject I must restrict myself here to these very general observations.

(γ) Having thus, firstly, dealt with the general types of pictorial composition, and, secondly, with a composition from the point of view of selection of situations, arrangement of motives and grouping, we will now add a few remarks upon the mode of characterization, by means of which painting is to be distinguished from sculpture and its ideal plastic character.

(αα) I have several times previously taken occasion to remark, that in painting the ideal and external particularity of soul-life is admitted in its freedom, and consequently is not necessarily that typical beauty of individualization which is inseparable from the Ideal itself, but one which is suffered to expand in every direction of particular appearance, by virtue of which we obtain that which in modern parlance is called characteristic. Critics have generally referred to "the characteristic" thus understood as the distinctive mark of modern art in its contrast to the antique; and, in the significance we are here attaching to the term, no doubt the above contrast is just. According to our modern criterion Zeus, Apollo, Diana, and the rest are really not characters at all in this sense, although we cannot fail to admire their infinitely lofty, plastic, and ideal individualities. We already find a more articulate individualization is approached by the Homeric Achilles, the Agamemnon and Clytemnestra of Aeschylus[318], or the Odysseus, Antigone, and Ismene in[Pg 306] the type of spiritual development which by word and deed Sophocles unfolds to us, a definition in which these figures subsist in what appears to be consonant with their substantive nature, so that we can no doubt discover the presentment of character in the antique if we are prepared to call such creations characters. Still in Agamemnon, Ajax, Odysseus, and the rest, the individualization remains throughout of a generalized type, the character of a prince, of frantic rage, of cunning in its more abstract determinacy. The individual aspect is in the result closely intertwined with the general conception, and the character is merged in an individualization of ideal import. The art of painting, on the contrary, which does not restrain particularity within the limits of such ideality, is more than anything else occupied with developing the entire variety of that aspect of particularization which is accidental, so that what we have now set before us, instead of those plastic ideals of gods and men, is particular people viewed in all the varied appearance of their accidental qualities. Consequently perfection of corporeal form, and the fully realized consonancy of the spiritual or ideal aspect with its free and sane existence, in a word, all that in sculpture we referred to as ideal beauty, in the art of painting neither make the same claim upon us, nor generally are regarded as the matter of most importance, inasmuch as now it is the ideality of soul-life itself, and its manifestation as conscious life which forms the centre of interest. In this more ideal sphere that realm of Nature is not so profoundly insistent. Piety of heart, religion of soul can, no less than ethical sense, and activity in fact did in the Silenus face of Socrates, find a dwelling in a bodily form which, viewed on the outside simply, is ugly and distorted. No doubt in expressing spiritual beauty, the artist will avoid what is essentially ugly in external form, or will find a way to subdue and illumine it in the power of the soul which breaks through it, but he cannot for all that entirely dispense with ugliness[319]. For the content of painting, as we[Pg 307] have above depicted it at length, includes within itself an aspect, for which it is precisely the abnormal and distorted traits of human figures and physiognomy, which are most able to express. This is no other than the sphere of what is bad and evil, which in religious subjects we find mainly represented by the common soldiers, who take a part in the passion of Christ, or by the sinners and devils in hell. Michelangelo was pre-eminent in his delineation of devils. In his imaginative realization, though we find he passes beyond the scale of ordinary human life, yet at the same time an affinity with it is retained. However much notwithstanding the impersonations which painting sets before us necessarily disclose an essentially complete whole of characteristic realization, we will not go so far as to maintain that we cannot find in them an analogue of that which we refer to as the Ideal in the most plastic type of art[320]. In religious subjects, no doubt, the feature of all importance is that of pure Love. This is exceptionally so in the case of the Virgin mother, whose entire life reposes in this love; it is more or less the same thing with the women who accompany the Master, and with John, the disciple of Love. In the expression of this we may also find the sensuous beauty of forms associated, as is the case with Raphael's conceptions. Such a close affinity must not, however, assert itself merely as formal beauty, but must be spiritually made vital through the most intimate expression of soul-life, and thereby transfigured; and this spiritual penetration must make itself felt as the real object and content. The conception, too, of beauty, has its real opportunity in the stories of Christ's childhood and those of John the Baptist. In the case of the other historical persons, whether apostles, saints, disciples, or wise men of antiquity, this expression of an emphasized intensity of soul-life is rather simply an affair of particular critical situations, apart from which they are mainly placed before us as independent characters of the actual world of experience, endowed with force and endurance of courage, faith and action, so that what most determines the gist of their characters in all its variety is an earnest and worthy manliness. They are not ideals of gods, but entirely individualized human ideals; not simply men,[Pg 308] as they ought to be, but human ideals[321], as they actually are in a certain place, to which neither particular definition of character is wanting, nor yet a real association between such particularity and the universal type which completes them. Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, in his famous Last Supper, have supplied examples of this type, in the composition of which we find an entirely different quality of worth, majesty and nobility present than in those presented by other painters[322]. This is precisely the point at which painting meets on the same ground with the ancients, without, however, sacrificing the character of its own province.

(ββ) Inasmuch, moreover, as the art of painting, to the fullest extent among the plastic arts, acknowledges the claim of the specific form, and the individualized characterization to assert itself, so above all we find here the transition to real portraiture. We should be therefore wholly in the wrong if we condemned portrait painting as incompatible with the lofty aims of art. Who indeed could desire to lose the great number of excellent portraits painted by the great masters? Who is not, quite apart from the artistic merits of such works, curious to have definitely substantiated to their vision this actual counterfeit of the idea of famous personalities, their genius, and their exploits, which they may have otherwise had to accept from history. For even the greatest and most highly placed man was, or is, a veritable individual, and we desire to see in visible shape this individuality, and the spiritual impression of it in all its most actual and vital characteristics. But apart from objects, which lie outside the purview of art, we may assert in a real sense, that the advances in painting from its imperfect essays consist in nothing so much as this very elaboration of the portrait. It was, in the first instance, the pious and devotional sense which brought into prominence the ideal life of soul. A yet finer art added new life to this sense by adding to its product reality of expression and individual existence; and with this profounder penetration into external fact the inward[Pg 309] life of spirit, the expression of which was its main object, was also enhanced and deepened. In order, however, that the portrait should be a genuine work of art the unity of the spiritual individuality must, as I have already stated, be stamped upon it, and the spiritual impression of the characterization must be the one mainly emphasized and made prominent. Every feature of the countenance contributes to this result in a conspicuous degree, and the fine instinct for detecting such in the artist will declare itself by the way in which he makes visible the unique impression of any personality by seizing and emphasizing precisely those traits, and parts in which this distinctive personal quality is expressed in its clearest and most vitally pregnant embodiment. In this respect a portrait may be very true to Nature, executed with the greatest perseverance, and yet entirely devoid of life, while a mere sketch[323], a few outlines from the hand of a master, may be infinitely more vivacious and arresting in its truth. Such a study should, however, by indicating the lines or features of real significance, reflect that character in its structural completeness[324], if on the simplest scale, which the previous lifeless execution and insistence upon crude fact glosses over and renders invisible. The most advisable course, as a rule, is to maintain a happy mean between such studies, and purely natural imitation. The masterly portraits of Titian are of this type. The impression such make on us is that of a complete personality. We get from them an idea of spiritual vitality, such as actual experience is unable to supply. The effect is similar to that afforded by the description of great actions and events in the hands of a truly artistic historian. We obtain from such a much loftier and vitally true picture of the facts than any we could have taken from the direct evidence of our senses. Concrete reality is so overburdened with the phenomenal, that is incidental or accidental detail, that we frequently cannot see the forest for the trees, and often the most important fact slips by us as a thing of common or daily occurrence. It is the indwelling insight and genius of the writer which first adds the quality of greatness to events or actions, presenting them fully in a truly historical composition, which[Pg 310] rejects what is purely external, and only brings into prominence that through which that ideal substance is vitally unfolded. In this way, too, the painter should place before us the mind[325] and character of the impersonation by means of his art. If success is fully attained we may affirm that a portrait of this qualify is more to the mark, more like the personality thus conceived than the real man himself is. Albrecht Dürer has also executed portraits of this character. With a few technical means the traits are emphasized with such simplicity, definition, and dignity, that we wholly believe ourselves to be facing spiritual life itself. The longer we look at such a picture, the more profoundly we penetrate into it, the more it is revealed to us. It reminds one of a clear-cut drawing, instinct with genius, which completely gives expression to the characteristic, and for the rest is merely executive in its colour and outlines in so far as the same may make the characterization more intelligible, apparent, and finished as a whole, without entering into all the importunate detail of the facts of natural life. In the same way also Nature in her landscape paints every leaf, branch, and blade to the last shadow of a line or tint. Landscape painting, on the contrary, has no business to attempt such elaboration, but may only follow her subject to a principle of treatment, in which the expression of the whole is involved, which emphasizes detail, but nevertheless does not copy slavishly such particulars in all their threads, irregularities and so forth, assuming it is to remain essentially characteristic and individual work. In the human face the drawing of Nature is the framework of bone in its harsh lines, around which the softer ones are disposed and continue in various accidental details. Truly characteristicportraiture, however, despite all the importance we may rightly attach to these well defined lines, consists in other traits indicated with equal force, the countenance in short as elaborated by the creative artist.[326] In this sense we may say[Pg 311] of the portrait that it not only can, but that it ought to flatter, inasmuch as it neglects what pertains to Nature's contingency, and only accepts that which contributes to the characteristic content of the individual portrayed, his most unique and most intimate self. Nowadays we find it the fashion to give every kind of face just a ripple of a smile, to emphasize its amiability, a very questionable fashion indeed, and one hard to restrain within the limit imposed. Charming, no doubt; but the merely polite amiability of social intercourse is not a fundamental trait of any character, and becomes in the hands of many artists only too readily the most insipid kind of sweetness.

(γγ) However compatible with portraiture the course of painting may be in all its modes of production it should, however, make the particular features of the face, the specific forms, ways of posing, grouping, and schemes of colour consonant with the actual situation, in which it composes its figures and natural objects in order to express a content. For it is just this content in this particular situation which should be portrayed.

Out of the infinitely diversified detail which in this connection we might examine I will only touch upon one point of vital importance. It is this that the situation may either be on its own account a passing one, and the emotion expressed by it of a momentary character, so that one and the same individual could express many similar ones in addition and also feelings in contrast with it, or the situation and emotion strikes at the very heart of a character, which thereby discloses its entire and most intimate nature. Situations and emotions of this latter type are the truly momentous crises in characterization[327]. In the situations, for example, in which I have already referred to the Madonna, one finds nothing, however essentially complete the individualization of the Mother of God may be in its composition, which is not a real factor in the embracing compass of her soul and character. In this case, too, the characterization is such that it is self-evident that she does not exist apart from what she can express in this specific circumstance. Supreme masters consequently have painted the Madonna in such immortal[Pg 312] maternal situations or phases. Other masters have still retained in her character the expression of ordinary life otherwise experienced and actual. This expression may be very beautiful and life-like, but this form, the like features, and a similar expression would be equally applicable to other interests and relations of marriage lore. We are consequently inclined to regard a figure of this type from yet other points of view than that of a Madonna, whereas in the supremest works we are unable to make room for any other thoughts but that which the situation awakens in us. It is on this ground that I admire so strongly the Mary Magdalene of Correggio in Dresden, and it will for ever awake such admiration. We have here the repentant sinner, but we cannot fail to see that sinfulness is not here the point of serious consideration[328]; it is assumed she was essentially noble and could not have been capable of bad passions and actions. Her profound and intimately self-imposed restraint therefore can only be a return to that which she really is, what is no momentary situation, but her entire nature. Throughout this entire composition, whether we look at form, facial expression, dress, pose, or environment, the artist has therefore not in the slightest degree laid a stress on those circumstances, which might indicate sin and culpability; she has lost the consciousness of those times, and is entirely absorbed in her present condition, and this faith, this instinct, this absorption appears to be her real and complete character.

Such a complete reciprocity between soul-life and external surroundings, determinacy of character and situation, the[Pg 313] masters of Italy have illustrated with exceptional beauty. In the example I have already referred to of Kügelchen's picture of the Prodigal Son, on the contrary, we have no doubt the remorse of repentance and grief expressed to the life; but the artist has failed to secure the unity of the entire character, which, apart from such an aspect of it, he possessed, and of the actual conditions under which such was depicted to us. If we examine quietly such features, we can only find in them the physiognomy of any one we might chance to meet on the Dresden bridge or anywhere else. In the case of a real coalescence of character with the expression of a specific situation such a result would be impossible; just as, in true genre-painting, even where the concentration is upon the most fleeting moments of time, the realization is too vivid to leave room for the notion that the figures before us could ever be otherwise placed or could have received other traits or an altered type of expression.

These, then, are the main points we have to consider in respect to the content and the artistic treatment in the sensuous material of painting, the surface, that is, and colour.


In our consideration of this third section of our subject we are unable to confine ourselves, as we have hitherto done, to a wholly general examination of the content and purport appropriate to painting, and the mode of configuration, which follows from its principle, for in so far as this art is built up on the particularity of characters and their situation, and upon form and its pose, colour, and so forth, we are compelled to fix in our minds and discuss the actual reality of this art's separate productions. No study of painting is complete that does not take into its survey and is unable to enjoy and criticize the pictures themselves, in which the aspects of it we have examined are enforced. This is a general rule in the case of all art, but it applies with exceptional force to painting among those we have up to the present considered. In the case of architecture and sculpture,[Pg 314] where the embrace of the content is more restricted, the means of exposition and configuration are to a less extent stamped with wealth and distinctive modification, and the particular aspects of their definition are simpler and more radical, we can more readily avail ourselves of copies, descriptions, and casts. It is essential in dealing with the art of painting that we should see the actual works themselves. In this case mere descriptions, however important they may be in a subsidiary sense, will not suffice. In the infinite variety, however, of its explication, the various aspects of which are united in particular works of art, these works appear to us in the first instance as a mere motley array, which, by reason of the fact that our review of it is based upon no principle of classification, is only to a small extent able to disclose to us the unique quality of individual pictures. And it follows from this that galleries, as a rule, if we are not already able to connect with each picture our knowledge of the country, period, school, and master to which it belongs, is simply a collection without meaning, in which we lose ourselves. The most profitable arrangement for study and enjoyment with our eyes is therefore an exhibition based on historical sequence. A collection of this kind, co-ordinated in relation to such a principle, unique and invaluable of its class, we shall shortly be able to admire in the picture gallery of the royal museum in this city[329]. In this we shall not only possess a historical survey of the technique of art in its stages of development, but shall have set before our minds, as an essential process with a history, that articulation of its ideal content in the distinctions of its schools, their various subject-matter, and their different modes of artistic conception and treatment. It is only through having given us a survey as consonant as this is with that vital process that we can form an idea from its origins in traditional and eclectic types, of the living growth of art, its search after expression and individual characteristic, its liberation from the inactive and tranquil station of its figures, that we can appreciate its progress to dramatic movement, grouping, and all the wealth and witchery of its colour, or finally learn to distinguish its schools, which either to some extent treat similar subject-matter[Pg 315] in a way peculiar to themselves, or are distinct from each other by reasons of the variety of their respective content.

A historical development of painting such as that referred to is of as great importance to scientific observation and exposition as it is to accurate study. The content of art as I have presented it, namely, the elaboration of its material, the distinct and fundamental changes in the mode of its conception, we find all this and more receives thus for the first time its concrete coherence in a sequence and under a classification which corresponds with the facts. It is therefore incumbent on us to glance at this process, if only by way of emphasis to what most immediately arrests attention.

In general the advance consists in this, that it originates in religious subjects conceived still in a typical way, with simple architectonic arrangement and unelaborated colour. After this, in an increasing degree of fusion with religious situations, we get actuality, vital beauty of form, individuality, depth of penetration, charm and witchery of colouring, until Art finally turns its attention to the world itself, makes itself master of Nature, the daily occurrence of ordinary life, or what is of significance in national history whether present or past, or portraiture and anything else down to the merest trifle and the least significant fact, and with an enthusiasm equal to that it devoted to the religious ideal, and pre-eminently in this sphere secures not merely the most consummate result of technical accomplishment, but also a treatment and execution which is most full of life and personality. This progress is followed in clearest outline if we take in succession the schools of Byzantine, Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and German painting, after noting the most prominent features of which briefly we shall finally indicate the transition to the art of music[330].

(a) In our review of Byzantine painting we may remark to start with that the practice of painting among the Greeks was to a definable degree always carried on; and examples[Pg 316] of antique work contributed to the greater excellence of its results relatively to posture, draping, and other respects. On the other hand the touch of Nature and life wholly vanished from this art; in facial types it adhered strictly to tradition; in its figures and modes of expression it was conventional and rigid; in its general composition more or less architectonic. We find no trace of natural environment and a landscape background. The modelling, by means of light and shadow, brilliance and obscurity, and their fusion, no less than perspective and the art of lifelike grouping, either were not elaborated at all, or to a very slight extent. By reason of this strict adherence to a single acknowledged type independent artistic production had little room for its exercise. The art of painting and mosaic frequently degenerated into a mere craft, and became thereby lifeless and devoid of spirit, albeit such craftsmen, equally with the workers on antique vases, possessed excellent examples of previous work, which they could imitate so far as pose and the folding of drapery was concerned. A similar type of painting spread its sombre influence over the ravaged West and more particularly in Italy. Here, however, although in the first instance with beginnings of little strength, we are even at an early date conscious of an effort to break away from inflexible forms and modes of expression, and to face, at first, however, in a rough and ready way, a development of loftier aim. Of Byzantine pictures we may, on the contrary, affirm, as Herr von Rumohr[331] has maintained of Greek Madonnas and images of Christ that "it is obvious even in the most favoured examples, their origin was that of the mosaic, and artistic elaboration was rejected from the first." In other words[332] the Italians endeavoured even before the period of their independent art development in painting, and in contrast to the Byzantines to approximate to a more spiritual conception of Christian subjects. The writer above-named draws attention also as noteworthy support of his contention to the manner in which the later Greeks and Italians respectively represented Christ on crucifixes. According to this writer "the Greeks, to whom the sight of terrible bodily suffering was of common occurrence, conceived the Saviour[Pg 317] suspended on the Cross with the entire weight of his body, the lower part of the body swollen and the slackened knees bent to the left, the bowed head contending with the pains of an awful death. Their subject was consequently in its essentials bodily suffering. The Italians, on the contrary, in their more ancient monuments, while we must not overlook the fact that the representation of the Virgin Mary with her Child no less than the Crucified is only of rare occurrence, were accustomed to depict the figure of the Saviour on the cross adopting, so it appears to us, the idea of the victory of the spiritual, not as in the former case the death of the body. And this unquestionably nobler conception asserts itself at an early date in the more favoured parts of Western Europe[333]." With this sketch I must here rest content.

(b) We have, however, secondly, another characteristic of art to consider in the earlier development of Italian painting. Apart from the religious content of the Old and New Testament and the biographies of martyrs and saints, it borrows its subjects in the main from Greek mythology, very seldom, that is, from the events of national history, or, if we except portraits, from the reality of contemporary life, and equally rarely, and only at a late stage and exceptionally, from natural landscape. Now that which it before all contributes to its conception and artistic elaboration of the subject-matter of religion is the vital reality of spiritual and corporeal existence, relatively to which at this stage all its forms are embodied and endowed with animation. For this vitality the essential principle on the spiritual side is that natural delightfulness, and on the corporeal side is that beauty which is consonant with physical form, a beauty which independently, as beautiful form, already displays innocence, buoyancy, maidenhood, natural grace of temperament, nobility, imagination, and a loving soul. If there is further added to a naturel of this type the exaltation and adornment of the soul in virtue of the ideal intimacy of religion and the spiritual characteristics of a profounder piety established as a vitalizing principle of soul-life in this essentially more admitted and inviolable province of spiritual[Pg 318] redemption[334],—in such a case we have presented to us thereby an original harmony of form and its expression, which, wherever it is perfected, vividly reminds us in this sphere of romantic art and Christian art of the pure Ideal of art. No doubt also within a new accord of this type the inward life of the heart will be predominant; but this inward experience is a more happy, a purer heaven of the soul, the way of return to which form what is sensuous and finite, and the return to God, albeit the passage may be through a travail in the profounder anguish of repentance and death, is, however, less saturated with trouble and its insistency. And the reason of this is that the pain is concentrated in the sphere of soul, of idea, of faith, without making a descent into the region of passionate desire, intractable savagery, obstinate self-seeking and sin, and only arriving at the hardly won victory through smiting down such enemies of the blessed state. It is rather a transition of ideal permanence[335], a pain of the inward life, which feels itself as such suffering rather simply in virtue of its enthusiasm, a suffering of more abstract type, more spiritually abundant, which has as little need to brush away bodily anguish as we have to seek signs in the characterization of its bodily presence and physiognomy of obstinacy, uncouthness, crookedness, or the traits of superficial and mean natures, in which an obstinate conflict is first necessary, before such are meet to express real religious feeling[336] and piety. This more benign[337] intimacy of soul, this more original consonancy of exterior forms to ideal experience of this kind is what creates the charming clarity and the untroubled delight, which the genuinely beautiful works of[Pg 319] Italian painting excite and supply. Just as we say of instrumental music that there is tone and melody in it, so, too, we find that the pure song of soul floats here in melodious fusion over the entire configuration and all its forms. And as in the music of the Italians and in the tones of their song, when the pure strains ring forth without a forced utterance, in every separate note and inflection of sound and melody, it is simply the delight of the voice itself which rings out; so, too, such an intimate personal enjoyment of the loving soul is the fundamental tone of their painting[338]. It is the same intimacy, clarity, and freedom which meet us again in the great Italian poets. To start with this artistic resonance of rhymes in their terzets, canzonets, sonnets, and stanzas, this accord, which is not merely satisfied to allay its thirst for reverberation in the one repetition, but repeats the echo three times and more, this is itself a euphony which streams forth on its own account and for the sake of its own enjoyment. And a like freedom is stamped upon the spiritual content. In Petrarch's sonnets, sestets, and canzonets it is not so much the actual possession of their subject, after which the heart yearns; it is not the consideration and emotion which are involved in the actual content of the poem as such, and which is therein necessarily expressed; rather it is the expression itself which constitutes the source of enjoyment. It is the self-delight of Love, which seeks its bliss in its own mourning, its laments, its descriptions, memories, and experience; a yearning, which is satisfied in itself as such, and with the image, the spirit of those it loves, is already in full possession of the soul, with which it longs to unite itself. Dante, too, when conducted by his master Virgil through hell and hell-fire, gazes at what is the culmination of horror, of awfulness; he is fearful, he often bursts into tears, but he strides on comforted and tranquil, without affright and anxiety, without the sullenness and embitterment which implies "these things should not be thus." Nay, even his damned in hell receive the blessedness of eternity. Io eterno duro is inscribed over the gates of hell. They are what they are, without repentance and longing; they do not speak of their sufferings; they are as immaterial to us as they are to them, for they endure for[Pg 320] ever. Rather they are absorbed simply in their personal experience and actions, secure of themselves as rooted in the same interests, without lamentation and without yearning[339].

When we have grasped this trait of happy independence and freedom of the soul in love we shall understand the character of the greatest Italian painters. It is in this freedom that they are masters of the detail of expression, and situation. On the wings of this tranquillity of soul they can maintain their sovereignty over form, beauty, and colour. In their most defined presentation of reality and character, while remaining wholly on the earth and often only producing portraits, or appearing to produce such, what we have are pictures of another sun, another spring. They are roses which are equally heavenly blossoms. And, consequently, we find that in their beauty we do not have merely beauty of form, we do not have only the sensuous unity of soul impressed on sensuous corporeal shapes; we are confronted with this very trait of reconciled Love in every mode, feature, and individuality of character. It is the butterfly, the Psyche[340], which in the sunlight of its heaven, even hovers round stunted flowers[341]. It is only by virtue of this rich, free, and rounded beauty that they are able to unfold the ideals of the antique art's more recent perfection.

Italian art has, however, not immediately and from the first attained to such a point of perfection; it had in truth a long road to traverse before it arrived there. And yet,[Pg 321] despite this, the purity and innocence of its piety, the largeness of the entire conception, the unassuming beauty of form, this intimate revelation of soul[342], are frequently and above all in the case of the old Italian masters most conspicuous where the technical elaboration is still wholly incomplete. In the previous century it was fashionable to depreciate these earlier masters, and place them on one side as clumsy, dull, and barren[343]. It is only in more recent times that they have been once more rescued from oblivion by savants and artists; but the wonder and imitation thus awakened has run off into the excess of a preference which tends to deny the advances of a further development in mode of conception and presentment, and can only lead astray in the opposite direction.

In drawing the reader's more close attention to the more important phases in the development of Italian art up to this period of its fullest perfection, I will only briefly emphasize the following points which immediately concern the characterization of the essential aspects of painting and its modes of expression.

(α) After the earliest stage of rawness and barbarism the Italians moved forward with a fresh impetus from that in the main craftsmanship type of art which was planted by the Byzantines. The compass of subjects depicted was, however, not extensive, and the distinctive features of the type were austerity, solemnity, and religious loftiness. But even at this stage—I am quoting the conclusions of Herr von Rumohr—who is generally recognized as an authority upon these earlier periods[344], Duccio, the Sienese, and Cimabue, the Florentine, endeavoured to assimilate the few remains of antique drawing, which was grounded on laws of perspective and anatomical precision, and so far as possible, to rejuvenate the same in their own genius. They "instinctively recognized the value of such drawings, but strove to soften the extreme insistence[345] of their ossification, comparing such insufficiently comprehended traits with the life such as we find it in fact or suggestion when face to face with their[Pg 322] own productions[345]." Such are merely the first and mediating efforts of art to rise from the inflexibility of a type to lifelike and individual expression.

(β) The further step of advance consists in the complete severation from those previous Greek examples, in the full acceptance, relatively both to the entire conception and execution of what is distinctively human and individual, and along with this in the profounder suitability of human characters and forms which was gradually evolved to express the religious content thus to be expressed.

(αα) It is here before all we must draw attention to the great influence which Giotto and his pupils exercised. Giotto, along with the changes he effected in respect to modes of conception and composition, brought about a reform in the art of preparing colours. The later Greeks probably, such at least is the result of chemical analysis, made use of wax either as a medium of colour, or as a kind of varnish[346], and from this we get the yellow-green and obscure general tone, which is not sufficiently explained by the action of lamplight[347]. Giotto wholly dispensed with this glutinous medium of the Greek painters, and used instead, when preparing his colours[348], the clarified milk of young shoots, unripe figs, and other less oliginous limes[349], which Italian painters of the early Middle Ages had used, very likely even before they strenuously imitated the Byzantines[350]. A medium of this kind had no darkening effect on the colours, but left their luminosity and clarity unimpaired. Still more important was the reform effected by Giotto in Italian painting with respect to selection of subjects and their manner of presentment. Ghiberti himself praises Giotto for having abandoned the rude style of the Greeks, and without leaning in this direction to an excess having introduced the truth and grace of Nature. Boccaccio, too, says of him that Nature is unable to create anything[Pg 323] that Giotto could not imitate to the point of deception[351]. In Byzantine pictures we can hardly detect a trace of natural appearance. It was Giotto, then, who concentrated his attention on what is present and actual, and compared the forms and effects which he undertook to exhibit with Life as it existed around him. And we may associate with this tendency the fact that during the times of Giotto not only do we find that the state of society was more free and intent on enjoyment, but that the veneration of several later saints took its rise then, saints whose lives more or less fell in that period[352]. It was such Giotto utilized particularly in emphasizing the truthful presentment of the subjects of his art; there was, in fact, thus the further demand suggested by the content itself that he should bring into prominence the natural features of the bodily presence and exhibit more defined characterization, action, passion, situation, pose, and movement. What we find, however, to a relative degree disappears from this attempt is that imposing religious seriousness which is the fundamental characteristic of the phase of art which it followed[353]. The things of the world receive a stage and a wider opportunity for expression; and this is illustrated by the way Giotto, under the influence of his age, found room for burlesque along with so much that was pathetic. In this connection Herr von Rumohr states rightly, "Under conditions of this description I am at a loss to understand how certain critics, who have exclusively insisted on this feature of Giotto's work, can so overestimate Giotto's tendency and performance by claiming it as the most sublime effort of modern art[354]." It is a great service of the above-named critic to have once more placed in a true light the point of view from which Giotto can be justly appreciated; he throughout makes us careful to see, that in this tendency of Giotto to humanize and towards realism he never really, as a rule,[Pg 324] advances beyond a comparatively subordinate stage in the process.

(ββ) The advance of painting continued under the manner of conception for which Giotto was in the main responsible. The typical representation of Christ, the apostles, and the more important events which are reported us by the evangelists, were more and more thrust into the background. Yet in another direction the embrace of subject-matter was for that reason extended. As our author expresses it: "All artists engaged in depicting the various phases in the life of latter-day saints, such as their previous worldliness, the sudden awakening of conscience, their entrance into the life of piety and asceticism, the miracles of their lives, more particularly after their decease, in the representation of which, as is to be expected from the external conditions of the art, the expression of the effect upon the living exceeded any suggestion of invisible powder[355]." Add to this that the events of the Life and Passion of Christ were not neglected. The birth and education of Christ, the Madonna with her Child were exceptionally favoured subjects, and were invested with a more life-like domesticity, touched with a more intimate tenderness, revealed to us in the medium of human feeling, and, moreover, to quote yet further: "In the problems[356] suggested by the Passion it was not so much the sublime and the triumph as simply the pathetic aspect which was emphasized, a direct consequence of the enthusiastic wave of sympathy with the earthly sufferings of the Saviour, to which Saint Francis, both by example and teaching, had communicated a vital energy hitherto unheard of."

In respect to a yet further advance towards the middle of the fifteenth century, we have to lay exceptional stress on two names, Masaccio and Fiesole. In the progressive steps through which the religious content was vividly carried into the living forms of the human figure and the animated expression of human traits Herr von Rumohr[357] draws attention to two essential aspects as of most importance. The one is the increase of rondure in all forms to which it applies; the[Pg 325] other he indicates as "a profounder penetration into the articulation, the consistency, the most varied phases of the charm and significance of the features of the human countenance." Masaccio and Angelico da Fiesole between them were the first to contribute effectively to the solution of this artistic problem, the difficulty of which in its entirety exceeded the powers of any one artist of that period. "Masaccio was mainly occupied with the problem of chiaroscuro, and the rounding and effective articulations of groups of figures. Angelico da Fiesole, on the other hand, devoted himself to sounding the depths of ideal coherence, that indwelling significance of human features, the mine of whose treasure he was the first to open to painting[358]." The effort of Masaccio was not so much one in the direction of grace as in that of imposing conception, manliness, and under the instinctive need for unity of the entire composition. The impulse of Fra Angelico was that of religious intensity, a love severed from the world, a cloistral purity of emotion, an exaltation and consecration of the soul. Vasari assures us in his account of him that he never commenced work without prayer, and never depicted the sufferings of the Redeemer without bursting into tears[359]. We have, then as aspects of this advance of painting a more exalted vitality and realism: but, on the other hand, the depth of piety, the ingenuous devotion of the soul in its faith overran itself and overpowered the freedom, dexterity, naturalism, and beauty of the composition, pose, drapery, and colour. If the later development was able to attain to a far more exalted and complete expression of the spiritual consciousness, yet the epoch we are now considering has never been surpassed in purity and innocence of religious feeling and serious depth of conception. Many pictures of this time may very well, by reason of the fact that the forms of life, which are used to depict the religious intensity of soul-life, do not appear fully adequate to this expression, give us something like a repulse; from the point of view, however, of spiritual emotion, which is the most vital source of these works of art, we have still less reason to fail to acknowledge the naive[Pg 326] purity, the intimacy with the most profound depths of the truly religious content, the assuredness of faithful love even under oppression and in grief, and oft, too, the charm of innocence and blessedness, inasmuch as the epochs that followed it, however much in other aspects of artistic perfection they made a step forwards, yet for all that never secured again the perfection of these previous excellencies, when once it had been lost.

(γγ) A third aspect attaches to the further development of the art, in addition to those already discussed, which may be described as the wider embrace of it relatively to the subjects accepted for presentation by the new impulse. Just as what was regarded as sacred had from the very commencement of Italian painting approached more closely to reality by reason of the fact that men whose lives fell about the time of the painters themselves were declared to be saints, so too Art received into its own sphere other aspects of reality and present life. Starting from that earliest phase of pure spirituality and piety, an art whose aim was wholly absorbed in the expression of such religious emotions, painting proceeded more and more to associate the external life of the world with its religious subject-matter. The gladsome, forceful self-reliance of the citizen in the midst of his professional career, the business and the craft that was bound up with such qualities, the freedom, the manly courage and patriotism, in one word, his weal in the vital activities of the Present, all this newly-awakened sense of human delight in the virtues of civil life and its cheer and humour[360], this harmonized sympathy with what was actual in both its aspects of ideal life[361] and the external framework of the same, all this it was which entered now into his artistic conceptions and modes of presenting such and was made valid therein. It is in this spirit that the enthusiasm for landscape backgrounds, views of cities,[Pg 327] environment of church buildings and palaces becomes a real instinct of artistic life; the living portraits of famous savants, friends, statesmen, artists, and other persons remarkable in their day for their wit and vivacity find a place in religious compositions; traits borrowed from both civil and domestic life are utilized with a greater or less degree of freedom and dexterity; and if, no doubt, the spiritual aspect of the religious content remained the foundation of all, yet the expression of piety was no longer exclusively isolate, but is linked together with the more ample life of reality and the open stage of the world[362]. No doubt we must add that by reason of this tendency the expression of religious concentration and its intimate piety is weakened, but art required also this worldly element in order to arrive at its culminating point.

(γ) Out of this fusion of the more embracing reality of life with the ideal material of religious emotion arose a new problem for genius to solve, the complete solution of which was reserved for the great masters of the sixteenth century. The supreme aim now was to bring the intimate life of soul, the seriousness and the loftiness of religious emotion into harmony with the animation, the actual presence of characters and forms both in its corporeal and spiritual aspect, in order that the bodily configuration in its pose, movement, and colour, may not simply remain an external framework, but become itself essentially an expression of spirit and life, and by virtue of that expression, made throughout all its parts wholly the reflex of soul-life no less than of external form, reveal a beauty without break or interruption.

Among the masters of most distinction, who set before themselves such an aim, we should pre-eminently mention Leonardo da Vinci. It was he, who, by virtue of his artistic thoroughness, his almost over-refined passion for detail, his exquisite delicacy of mind and feeling, not only penetrated further than any other[363] into the mysteries of the human[Pg 328] form and the secrets of its expression, but, through his equally profound knowledge of all the technique of a painter, attained to an extraordinary infallibility in the employment of all the means that his researches and practice had placed within his reach. And, along with this, he was able to retain a reverential seriousness in composing his religious subjects, so that his figures, however much they present to us the ideal of a more complete and rounded actuality, and disclose the expression of sweet, smiling joyfulness in facial traits and the delicate rhythm of drapery, do not thereby dispense with the dignity, which the worth and truth of religion demand[364].

The most unflecked quality[365] of perfection reached in this direction was, however, that first attained by Raphael. Herr von Rumohr assigns more particularly to the artists of the Umbrian School dating from the middle of the fifteenth century a mysterious fascination, which no sympathetic nature can resist, and endeavours to find the source of this attraction in the depth and tenderness of feeling no less than the marvellous unity into which these painters knew how to bring memories from the oldest essays of Christian art of a style only very partially understood by them[366] with the milder conceptions of a later time, and in this respect proved themselves superior to the Tuscan, Lombard, and Venetian fellow artists of that period[367]. It was just this expression of "flawless purity of soul and absolute surrender to the yearning and enthusiastic flow of tender feeling" to which Pietro Perugino, the master of Raphael, devoted his artistic efforts, and succeeded by doing so in fusing the objectivity and vitality of external forms, throughout all its actual realization and in every detail, an aim which had previously received the most marked attention in the elaborate work of the Florentines. Starting from the work[Pg 329] of Perugino, to whose artistic taste and style he appears to have consistently adhered in his early work, Raphael proceeded yet further to realize to the most consummate degree the demand of the ideal above indicated. In other words we find united in him the highest ecclesiastical feeling for the themes of religious art and a complete knowledge and enthusiastic respect for natural phenomena in all the animation of their colour and shape together with an insight fully as great for the beauty of the antique. This great admiration for the idealistic beauty of the ancients did not bring him in any way to imitate and adapt to his work the forms which Greek sculpture had elaborated in their perfection. What he seized from it was simply the general principle of their free beauty which in his hands was throughout suffused with a more individual vitality more applicable to his art and with a type of expression more deeply informed with soul-life, and at the same time with an open, blithesome clarity and thoroughness, in all the detail of the presentment that up to his time was as yet unknown among Italian artists. In the elaboration and consistent fusion and coherence of this ideal atmosphere he reached the highest point of his attainment. On the other hand, in the magical charm of chiaroscuro, in the exquisite tenderness and grace of soul-expression, of forms, movements, and grouping, it is Correggio who most excels, while the incomparable greatness of Titian consists in the wealth of natural life that he displays, the illuminating bloom, fervency, warmth, and power of his colour. We know nothing more delightful than the naïveté of Correggio's not so much natural as religious and spiritual grace, nothing more sweet than his smiling, unconscious beauty and innocence[368].

The artistic perfection of these great masters is a culminating point of art such as could only be mastered by one nation in the course of historical development.

[Pg 330]

(c) Thirdly, in so far as the question is that of German painting we may affiliate that which is entirely German with that of Flemish or Dutch painters. The general distinction between the above schools and that of the Italians, consists in this, that neither the Germans nor the painters of the Netherlands were willing as a creation of their own to attain to the free ideal forms and modes of expression characteristic of Italian art, or were able to progress to that spiritually transfigured type of beauty which is essentially the result of such. What they did elaborate, however, was, in one aspect of it, the expression of depth of emotion and the austere seclusion of the individual soul, and, from another point of view, they attach to this intensity of faith the separate definition of individual character in the broader significance of it, that is to say, one which does not merely disclose the fact of its close interest with the claims of faith and salvation, but also shows how the individuals represented are affected by the concerns of the world, how they are buffeted by the cares of life, and in this severe ordeal have gained worldly wisdom, fidelity, consistency, straightforwardness, the constancy of chivalry and the sterling character of good citizens. Agreeably to this more restricted and depressed vision of the detail of life we find here, and it is particularly conspicuous in the German school, from the beginning, in deliberate contrast with the purer forms and characters of the Italians, rather the expression of a formal obstinacy of stubborn natures, which either oppose themselves to God with energetic defiance and brutal wilfulness, or are forced to impose restraint on themselves in order that they may, with sore travail, wrest themselves from their limitations and uncouthness, and fight their way to the reconciliation of religion; consequently the deep wounds which they inflict on their spiritual life inevitably contribute to the visible expression of their piety. In illustrating this more closely I will merely draw attention to certain prominent features, which are important indications of the contrast between the older Flemish school and the upper German and more recent Dutch masters of the seventeenth century.

(α) Among the early Flemish masters, the brothers Van Eyck, Hubert, and John are exceptionally distinguished in the early half of the fifteenth century, and it is only recently[Pg 331] that their true merits have once more been established. It is now an established fact that they discovered, or at least they were the first to fully perfect, the process of oil-painting. Looking at the great advance they made we must now assume that a distinct series of stages in the course of this progress to its culmination could be set forth. We have, however, no historical array of works of art preserved for us whereby we could illustrate such a gradual process. We are face to face at one moment of time with the beginning and final consummation. For painting of greater excellence than that of these two brothers it is almost impossible to imagine. Moreover, the works that have come down to us, in which the mere type is already dispensed with and overcome, not merely display a grand mastery in drawing, arrangement, grouping, ideal and exterior characterization, enthusiasm, clarity, harmony, and delicacy of colouring, dignity and repose of composition; but we must add that the entire wealth of painting respectively to nature's environment, architectonic accessories, backgrounds, splendour and variety of material, drapery, style of weapons, ornamentation, and much besides, is already treated with such fidelity, with such an instinctive sense of what is pictorial, and with such a technical virtuosity, that even later centuries, at any rate from the point of view of thoroughness and truth, have been unable to produce any more consummate result. We are, however, more strongly attracted by the master works of Italian painting, if we contrast them with this Flemish school, because the Italians, along with the completest expression of soul-life and the religious sense, retain throughout the ideal of spiritual freedom and imaginative beauty. The figures of Flemish art delight us, no doubt, by virtue of their innocence, naïveté, and piety; nay, in the depth of their emotional life they, in some measure, surpass the work of the most excellent Italian artists; but the Flemish masters have never been able to attain to a beauty of form and a freedom of soul comparable with that of the Italians. Their Christ-babes are, in particular, badly modelled; and for the rest their characters, whether men or women, however strongly, subject to their dominant expression of religious fervour, they may display a sterling character in their relation to secular interests sanctified by the depth of their faith,[Pg 332] nevertheless appear to us lacking in a significance which can exalt itself over such a piety, or rather, as dominated by it, do not appear able at the same time to be essentially free, instinct with imagination and the enterprise of superior qualities.

(β) A further aspect we shall do well to consider is the transition from the more tranquil, reverential piety to the representation of martyrdoms, and, in general, what is not beautiful in reality. It is more particularly the North German masters who excel in scenes borrowed from the Passion in which they emphasize the savagery of the soldiery, the evil aspects of the mocking, the fierceness of the hate against Christ during the course of His sufferings, with particular insistence on features of ugliness and distortion, and which are intended to denote external forms correspondent with the depravity of spirit. The tranquil and beautiful activity of an unassuming personal piety is thrown into the background, and the movements which are inseparable from the situations above mentioned unfold us hideous distortions, expressions of ferocity, and all the unbridled exhibition of passions. Where we have the contending tumult and the uncouthness of characters presented with such detail, it is not surprising that such pictures are defective in the ideal harmony of their composition no less than their colour, so that, more especially where a taste for old German paintings first crops up, critics when thus confronted with what is, as a rule, an inferior class of technical accomplishment, fall into many mistakes when determining the date of their production. Thus it has been maintained that they are previous to the more consummate pictures of the Van Eyck period, although, for the most part, they hail from a more recent time. However, the Upper German masters were not exclusively occupied with works of this type, but have likewise treated a variety of religious subjects, and, indeed—Albrecht Dürer, with others, exemplifies this—even in scenes from Christ's Passion, have understood how effectively to grapple with the extremes of pure savagery, and even when treating such themes to preserve an ideal nobility and an external independence[369] and freedom.

[Pg 333]

(γ) Finally, the development of German and Flemish art is characterized in a complete identification of itself with the ordinary life of the Present; and, along with this, in a unified system of the most varied modes of presentation, which, both in respect to their content and technique, are distinct from one another and independently elaborated. We have seen already the advance made by Italian painting from the simple nobility of devotion to an ever-increasing assertion of secular motive, which here, however, as we pointed out in the case of Raphael, was in some measure permeated by ecclesiastical prepossessions, and in part limited by the coherent principle of antique beauty. We may add that the later course of this school is not so much a dissolution of that unity in the representation of every kind of subject-matter under the predominant interest of the colourist as a more superficial disposition, or rather, eclectic imitation of styles of draughtsmanship and painting. German and Flemish art, on the contrary, has in the most definite and exceptional degree traversed the entire scheme of content and modes of treatment, starting from its wholly traditional church pictures, single figures and half lengths, then on to thoughtful, pious, and devotional subjects, until we come to that animation and extension of the same in larger compositions and scenes, in which, however, the free characterization of figure, the heightened vitality effected by means of processions, retinues, incidental personages, embellishment of garments and utensils, wealth of portraiture, architectural works, environment, views of churches, cities, streams, forests, mountains, is still conceived and executed as a whole subject to religious motivation. This focal centre still persists; but we find that the range of subjects, which had hitherto been held together in unity, is broken into division, and the separate parts become, in the specific singularity and contingent character of their alternations or independent modifications, subject to every possible type of conception and pictorial execution[370].

[Pg 334]

In order to arrive at a full appreciation of this aspect of art's development in the present context, for we have already referred to the point, we will pass briefly in review the national conditions which were operative in the change. We are under the necessity to justify, as we shall attempt to do in the following observations, a transition from direct relations to the Church and the outlook and pictorial modes of piety to a delight in the world simply, that is to say, to the objects and particular phenomena of Nature, to domestic life in its dignity, congeniality, and peaceful seclusion, to an enjoyment of national festivities and processions, rustic dances, the games and follies attendant upon church fêtes. Now the Reformation had thoroughly penetrated Holland. The Dutch had become Protestants and overcome the despotism of the Spanish Crown and Church. And what is more we do not, if we consider the political condition here, either find a distinguished nobility which drives forth its princes and tyrants, or imposes laws on them, nor yet an agricultural people, oppressed peasantry, who break free as the Swiss have done, but rather a population which, in by far the largest proportion of it, if we except the few brave souls that tilled the soil and its more than brave heroes of the sea, consisted of citizens of the town, men of business, well-to-do burghers, men who, rejoicing in their ordinary avocations, entertained no lofty pretensions, but, as became their courage and intelligence, with audacious reliance in God, stood up to defend the freedom of their hardly-won liberties and the particular privileges of their provinces, cities, and guilds, dared to oppose themselves to all hazards without fear of the transcendent prestige of the Spanish dominion over half the world, to bravely let their blood flow for such an aim, and by virtue of this righteous boldness and endurance victoriously secured both their religious and civic independence. And if we may brand any single condition of soul-life as distinctively deutsch, it is just this loyal, well-to-do, and genial citizenship, which, in a self-respect that is without pride, in a piety which is not merely absorbed in enthusiasm and devotion, but which is concretely pious in the affairs of the world[371] and is homely and contented in[Pg 335] its abundance, remains neat and clean, and in persistent carefulness and contentment under all circumstances, armed with its own enduring sense of independence and freedom, is able, with loyalty to its former life, to preserve the sterling character of its forefathers unimpaired. This intelligent and artistically endowed people furthermore seeks its enjoyment in the pictorial presentment of its vigorous, justly co-ordinated, satisfying, and comfortable existence; it is all for taking a renewed delight by means of its pictures in the cleanliness under all conditions of its towns, houses, and domestic arrangements, of enjoying thus its household felicity, its wealth, the generous adornment of its wives and children, the splendour of its civic feasts, the boldness of its seamen, the fame of its merchandise and the shipping, in which it rides over all the seas of the world. And it is just this instinct of orderly and cheerful existence, which the Dutch masters emphasize also in their landscape subjects. In one word, in all their pictorial accomplishment they succeed in combining with freedom, and truth of conception, with their enthusiasm for what is in appearance of inferior and momentary significance, with the freshness of open vision and the concentration of their entire soul on all that is most stamped with the seclusion and limitations of their life, the most ample freedom of artistic composition, no less than the finest feeling for accessories and the most perfect effects of studious elaboration. From one point of view this school of painting has developed to an incomparable degree the magic and mystery of lighting and colour[372] generally in its scenes borrowed from war and military life, in its tavern jollifications, in its weddings and other rustic fêtes, in its pictures of domestic life, in its portraits, landscapes, animals, flowers, and the rest. From another aspect it has elaborated with a similar excellence the characterization which penetrates to the heart of life in all the truth of which Art is capable. And although its insistence on the insignificant and contingent includes the expression of what is boorish, rude, and common, yet these scenes are so permeated throughout with ingenuous lustiness and jollity, that it is not the common in its meanness and naughtiness so much as the gaiety and joviality which creates the artistic subject and its content.[Pg 336] We do not look at mean feelings and passions, but simply what is boorish, in the sense of being rustic, near to nature, in the poorer classes, a quality which connotes geniality, waggishness, and comedy. In short the Ideal itself is not wholly absent from this unperturbed easy-way-of-life. It is the Sabbath of Life, which brings all to one level and removes all badness, simply as such. Men who are thus so whole-heartedly of good temper can neither be wholly bad nor mean. In this respect it is not one and the same thing, whether evil is of purely momentary appearance in a character, or lies at its root and essence. In the work of these Dutch painters what is humorous in a situation cancels what is evil, and it is at once clear to us that the characters could be something other than that in the guise of which they are for the time being set before us[373]. A gaiety and comedy of this description contributes much to the invaluable character of these pictures. If pictures of this rollicking type are attempted nowadays, the painter, as a rule, only places before us what is essentially mean, coarse and bad without the illuminating atmosphere of a comic situation[374]. A bad wife rails at her tipsy husband in the tavern with all her might. In a scene of this kind we have only put before us, as I have already remarked, the bald facts that the man is a dissipated brute and the woman a rating wench.

If we look at the Dutch masters in this light we shall no longer entertain the view that the art of painting should have said good-bye to such subjects altogether, and merely confined itself to depicting the gods of old, myths, and fables, or even Madonna pictures, crucifixions, martyrs, popes, and saints of both sexes. What is a vital ingredient of every work of art is inseparable also from painting, and this is the observance of what generally concerns our humanity, the spirit and characterization of man, in other words what man is and what each individual is. This vital grasp of the conscious life of human nature and the external forms of its appearance, this naive delight and artistic freedom, this freshness and cheerfulness of imaginative sympathy,[Pg 337] this absolute directness of execution is what constitutes the poetry that underlies the work of the majority of the Dutch painters of this period. In their paintings we may study and acquaint ourselves with human nature and mankind. Nowadays, however, our artist only too frequently will confront us with portraits and historical pictures, at which we have only to cast a bare glance, and we see that, while flatly contradicting the wildest dream of what is possible in mankind or anyone in particular, he neither knows aught at all about man or his natural colour, nor yet the modes of composition[375] in which we may justly express that humanity[376].

[214] Die gesammte Menschen-brust.

[215] Die in sich gediegene Individualität des Gottes.

[216] Betrachtung, here implying thought rather than vision.

[217] That is a unity which dissolves all difference.

[218] Als Inneres.

[219] Als Reflexion in sich. Probably Hegel means simply the ultimate fact of self-conscious life—which is to find itself in Nature as the antithesis of the synthetic unity of the ego. This is developed in the latter half of the sentence.

[220] Lit., "Is not an essentially persistent and stereotyped (Erstarrtes, stiffened) individual."

[221] Less than sculpture.

[222] He may mean type of art generally, but I think the reference here is simply to painting. The passage is an important one.

[223] I presume Hegel uses the word seeligkeit in the ordinary sense, not "soulfulness." The close relation with Schmertz necessitates this. But the spelling suggests the other interpretation.

[224] Which is absent in the classical treatment.

[225] That is, the creative artist.

[226] Innerlichkeit. It is impossible to express Hegel's use of this word by one expression. It combines intimacy, ideal union, and inwardness of soul-life in its contrast to objective reality.

[227] That is the romantic type.

[228] Die für sich seyende Subjektivität. That is a process that elaborates itself in independent form consonant to its own substance.

[229] Als dieses Subjekt. That is, I assume, as the distinctive personality of the artist. This must appear on the face of the work as the crown of its independent type and concrete unity (Zur Spitze des Fürsichseyns) but must not dominate it to the extent of destroying all natural detail, not even to the extent of sculpture.

[230] Zur Spitze des Fürsichseyns. See note above.

[231] That is their union in sculpture.

[232] Als solcher. Hegel means that the universal present in emotion is objective therein as part of the self-conscious life, but is only presented in the concrete objective shape in the work of the artist who therein suffers to escape the wholly personal side.

[233] Sein Inneres, his ideal substance, with more direct reference to feeling.

[234] Aus demselben in sich hineingehend. I think what is meant is that the material is idealized out of one of its spatial conditions rather than that the artist selects his medium in consonance with his temperament and technique.

[235] That is, does not affect the stability and total effect of the work. Of course the actual effect may vary.

[236] Für diesen festen Punkt des Subjekts.

[237] Die in sich besonderte Innerlichkeit.

[238] The distinctions in matter conditioned in Space.

[239] The meaning, if rather obscurely expressed, appears to be this. The art of sculpture shows us when it treats the spatial dimensions as essential that we must have the entire spatial form to do this, and it shows us that if we wish to pass from the mere presentment of bodily form to a fuller ideal quality we must contract this exclusive appearance of physical matter.

[240] Lit., "Begins to be subjective." Begins to possess a self-excluding centre of unity, i.e., self-identity.

[241] That is to the point of a real subject or ego.

[242] E.g., secure an abstract result in superficies only.

[243] Apart from artistic means.

[244] Though the statements here are suggestive, they are obviously influenced by Hegel's belief in the false theory of light propounded by Goethe.

[245] This is a direct reference to the Newtonian theory, of course.

[246] Zeichnung here refers to line rather than technical excellence in draughtsmanship. It must be admitted Hegel's emphasis of these two aspects is carried rather too far.

[247] The above passage is open to criticism. Hegel hardly makes allowance for the fact that the defective technique, so far as it is defective, of the earlier masters, was mainly due to their state of knowledge. Art was, in a certain aspect of technique, in its infancy. Moreover to compare Dutch landscape with that of Bellini or Raphael is to compare things that are each unique of their kind and not comparable. Their aim was entirely different. In such pictures as the San Sisto Madonna of Raphael, the great Crucifixion of Tintoret, or the Entombment of Titian it is quite impossible to maintain that the earnestness of conception is in any way inferior to the technique, although we have no doubt a different degree of conviction expressed by Fra Angelico. And the classical landscape of Titian or Tintoret is of its type supreme.

[248] This statement of Hegel again requires parenthesis or at least interpretation. There is a realism such as that we find in the most consummate work of a Titian, or the genre work of the Dutch school, or our own Pre-Raphaelites, to say nothing of mere academical realism, which hardly comes within his remarks. It is obvious that the Ideal is subserved in different degrees by such examples, and in fact to preserve that unity of conception despite the greatest elaboration, is to serve the Ideal at least in one aspect of it. Hegel, at least in the concluding part of this paragraph, appears mainly to have in his mind still life and the genre pictures of the Dutch, and rather seems to overlook his own statement as to the necessity of selection and the power to express detail by the shorthand of genius rather than deliberate imitation.

[249] Grossartigkeit.

[250] Innigkeit. Intimate ideality, inwardness.

[251] I am not sure what Hegel means by the expression Nicht das Niedrige ist zerdrückt. If the text is correct I suppose it means the sensuous side does not make way for a more spiritual synthesis. What we should expect is some other verb than zerdrückt such as ausgedrückt, the sense being that "though the mean emotion is not expressed, and no rage, etc., is asserted, yet despite of it all," etc. I think there must be some misprint here.

[252] Ein starres Beisichseyn. Compare the expression lower down affirmatives Fürsichseyn with which it contrasts.

[253] Für sich bestehende Herz.

[254] Als ein göttliches Moment. It means an actual phase in the Divine existence.

[255] An important statement. Hegel's words are Sondern wir müssen das geistige Daseyn im Bewusstseyn des Menschen als die wesentliche geistige Existenz Gottes ansehn.

[256] A bad master at any rate for such a subject.

[257] This metaphor appears to me rather confused, and in fact I do not pretend wholly to understand its meaning. I suppose the idea is that beyond the clouds of soul-life there are the clouds that obscure Providence. In all this passage Hegel shows his limitations as an art student.

[258] Näher. That is our love of God is mainly through Christ.

[259] Ein bloss eingelnes Moment. A phase that passes or becomes relatively insignificant.

[260] Innigste, most intimate. A curious but characteristic conclusion of Hegel.

[261] This analysis must be accepted of course mainly as an analysis of the ideal proposed to us by the profoundest Christian art. It is obviously not true of much Italian art, Titian's work for example, and it is equally remote from many of the most probable facts of history.

[262] Die Starrheit. The rigid or unyielding character.

[263] Der Gehalt ihres Gemüths. It is possible to see in this analysis something rather capricious and far-fetched, and yet to appreciate its value as an analysis of Christian love for the deceased beloved as contrasted with pagan sentiment. The finest illustration I myself can recollect of this is not the mother Mary at all, but the figure of the Magdalene in Tintoret's "Deposition" in the S. Giorgio Maggiore Church in Venice. As a matter of fact the divine mother in sacred art is almost invariably depicted in a state of swoon under the stress of her grief, though Tintoret's Pietà in the Brera is a notable exception.

[264] I do not know this painter. For pathos I know no finer conception of the death than that of Rembrandt's etching. Blake's drawing, exhibited recently at Cambridge, shows us the tranquillity and dignity of the scene more finely than any other representation.

[265] I presume Hegel means this by the words die Menschheit, but it is a difficult passage.

[266] It is impossible in English to preserve the antithesis between bitten and beten.

[267] Und nichts für sich hat. That is to say reciprocity is of its essence. "Give and it shall be given unto you."

[268] Die Gestalt may possibly refer to the suppliant.

[269] The Sistine Madonna.

[270] A good instance is the great Crucifixion of Fra Angelico in the S. Mark convent in Florence.

[271] And a painter like Carlo Dolci or the Caracci are even worse.

[272] It would perhaps have been more instructive to consider the difference of temperament in the artist when dealing with such subjects and its influence on his treatment. It is very far from an obvious truth that physiognomy upon which the conflict of soul-life is most marked loses thereby the characteristics of beauty. There is the beauty of gnarled oak no less than that of the rose and the lily.

[273] Das Beisichseyn der Liebe im Absoluten. Lit., the self-inherency cf Love within the Absolute.

[274] Sondern auch selbständig. He seems to mean that they receive from this relation the subsistent individuality of spirit. This reference to landscape is obviously very perfunctory and insufficient.

[275] See vol. I, p. 220.

[276] Mit dem in sich particularisirten Innern. With the ideal complexus of particular objects as related to one subject. Their particularity is due to their characterization, and that is dependent on idealization.

[277] Diess Verwachsenseyn. Lit., this growing up with.

[278] There is, however, the aspect of consummate execution which in itself is a very real source of artistic enjoyment, and Hegel rather seems to overlook this here.

[279] Verzweigungen. All off-shoots of attention or interest.

[280] Of course, even in the painting of still life, artistic composition itself implies by its selection and subordination to an idea a new result. And the characteristic technique of a painter inevitably has the same result.

[281] Geistigen Ausdrück.

[282] Grundlage.

[283] It is perhaps rather strange that Hegel should have considered the Dutch and Flemish schools as pre-eminently colourists. Apart from Rembrandt the truth is not very apparent. But he was mainly thinking of their dexterity in the lighting of a picture and the scintillation of colour.

[284] That is, as black and white and its gradations.

[285] It is not quite clear what is intended here by Vervielfältigung, probably power of being adapted to various subject matter and modes of expression.

[286] It is hardly necessary to point out that this discussion, being based on Goethe's false theory of colour in opposition to Newton's prismatic analysis, has no scientific value, though historically of interest. The blueness of the sky is due to the blue rays being detained.

[287] I presume by concrete unity Hegel refers in some form to a unity that is such owing to its intrinsic nature.

[288] But red quite as often symbolizes enthusiasm and love, and in Tintoret's Paradise the Virgin has the red tunic and the blue mantle.

[289] As a matter of fact violet or purple is a cardinal colour.

[290] Green is not a cardinal colour.

[291] Hegel seems to have in view the Flemish school rather than the Dutch in the restricted sense. It is rather strange that he should dwell on this rather than work of the Venetians such as Bellini.

[292] Verschwemmte. Carried away by a stream.

[293] Such as Ary Scheffer and others of the same monotony. The flesh tints of Leighton and Poynter and many less men suffer in the same way.

[294] Farbenschein, as Hegel uses it later on, I find it impossible to translate in one word. In fact it is not easy to seize precisely what he means. "Modulation of colour" partly expresses it. But he also seems to refer to what we understand as the personal quality of a picture or its general atmosphere, not regarded simply as Nature's atmosphere, but as the communication of the artist's own afflatus.

[295] I crossed a young landscape-artist of growing fame the other day, who affirmed and endeavoured to express in his pictures the conviction that colour was as strong in distance as foreground. His pictures were of great interest, but I still think his robust theory unsound.

[296] We have no English equivalent for the German das Incarnat or colour incarnate.

[297] Ein ideelles Ineinander. By ideal Hegel means apparently that the distinctions of tint fine away beyond the grasp of sense vision. This of course is true in all natural colouring. Possibly he may mean that the idea of Life is contributive to the result.

[298] Hardly a just simile for the reason that, as Hegel himself points out, flesh does not reflect external objects.

[299] Den Schein innerer Belebung. This expression seems to prove that Hegel uses the word ideel in its ordinary sense of spiritual ideality.

[300] Als selbst lebendiges Ganze. The colour must appear as itself a part of the vitality, not a mere covering.

[301] Vertreibung. What Hegel exactly means I am not sure, probably finish by over-paintings.

[302] Fresco painting is strictly in tempera. I suppose Hegel has here before him the two processes of tempera painting on the wet wall of plaster and tempera painting on some other dry surface.

[303] Zu grosser innerer Klarheit und schönen Leuchten. I give what appears to me to be the meaning.

[304] I presume Hegel understands by Deck und Lasurfarben the distinction of our opaque and transparent colours such as flake white and the madders or umbers. He clearly refers to glazes.

[305] Die Duftigkeit, Magie in der Wirkung des Kolorits. This is a difficult passage to translate, and I am not quite sure what Hegel is aiming at. He seems to have in his mind both the ideal atmosphere of a composition and the presence of a personal style.

[306] Hegel has already related the effects considered to the artist's personality. He now endeavours to examine more closely what is implied in the relation.

[307] Adriaen van Ostade, 1610-1685.

[308] He means painting, of course. He never passed beyond the stage of the average amateur.

[309] Spiel von Scheinen. The play of appearance, that is, as it strikes on different natures.

[310] Malerischen Auffassung. Here the ideas on mental conception and artistic composition seem to be combined. But Hegel is rather loose in his use of them.

[311] Hegel has doubtless Albrecht Dürer and yet earlier German art in his mind.

[312] Die besonderen Bestimmungen. The lines of its definite exposition.

[313] I adopt Hegel's generic term. But he means here little more than delineation or composition.

[314] As between the art of painting and those of poetry and music.

[315] Geistig. We may say the same thing of Tintoret's great Golden Calf picture. But the objection to the composition as a work of art remains more strongly than is the case with Raphael's picture.

[316] The same thing is a characteristic of Tintoret's Annunciation in the S. Rocco Scuola and several pictures of Dürer.

[317] Fine examples of this are Rembrandt's Descent from the Cross in the Munich Gallery, and the group of mourners in Tintoret's Great Crucifixion.

[318] They have in this respect been well contrasted with the characters of Euripides in the play of Aristophanes which particularly emphasizes the difference between the heroic type of Aeschylus and the realism of Euripides, "The Frogs of Aristophanes," text and translation of B. B. Rogers; see Introd., pp. XVIII, XIX, XLV.

[319] As to ugliness and its treatment by Hegel, see Professor Bosanquet's "History of Aesthetik," pp. 338, 355, and generally pp. 432-436.

[320] That is sculpture. Hegel calls it im Plastischen.

[321] An ideal with Hegel is not necessarily an image of the mind, but far more generally the concrete realization of life.

[322] He should have added Tintoretto at least. What could be more pertinent than his Sages in the Palazzo Reale in Venice.

[323] Applies to the study rather than the talent exercised.

[324] Aber ganze Grundbild des Charakters darstellen.

[325] Den geistigen Sinn und Charakter. He means the entire spiritual impression, heart, soul, and intelligence, with its practical effect in substantive character.

[326] I think this is implied here in Hegel's use of the words verarbeitet durch den Geist. But it may mean "in the face as worked upon the soul within the person portrayed."

[327] Die wahrhaften absoluten Momente für die Characteristik.

[328] The German expression is, "It is not a serious affair with her sinning." I am not sure that Hegel's view here does not lean towards the sentimentalism he generally so strongly opposes. No doubt a clear conception of the Magdalene's character is difficult. But it is obvious that the less stress we lay upon her sin, the less weight her conversion carries from the religious point of view, and the less great appears the effect of the interposition of her divine Master. Correggio was not a master likely to penetrate profoundly into his subject. But, on the other hand, it must be admitted that Hegel's contention is in one aspect of it supported by the far finer conceptions of the Magdalene in Tintoret's work. At least this great master clearly shows us that in his view of her she was strongly emotional, heart and soul in everything whether for good, under good influence, or for evil under opposite direction. It is possible to understand Hegel's interpretation as one mainly aesthetic.

[329] In Berlin. The statement is made in February 1829.

[330] The omission of the Spanish school at least omits a most important link with modern impressionism and its close relation to that transition to music. And it is impossible to indicate the progress of landscape without reference to the English school.

[331] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. I, p. 279.

[332] The words in ähnlicher Weise make no sense.

[333] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. I, p. 280.

[334] Literally the sense is "Which (apparently agrees with the trait of piety) invigorates with soul that assuredness and accepted fact (Fertigkeit) of existence, which is from the very first (von Hause aus) more decisive (entscheidenere) in this province of salvation (des Heils)." Heils must obviously be used in the same sense as Heiland above. My translation is necessarily rather free, but I hope I have emphasized the meaning.

[335] Ein ideal bleibender Uebergang. The transition is rather one the soul imagines than an actual fact. "Ideal persistence" is perhaps better.

[336] Religiosität here used in good sense.

[337] Lit., "More free from struggling." Compare Saint John and Saint Paul as examples on the higher levels.

[338] That is Italian painting.

[339] Hegel's delight in Italian opera is well known to readers of his correspondence. In the above fine passage he to some extent unbelts himself from his ordinary tone of rather austere reticence.

[340] The distinction seems to be between the more formal unity of personality and the peculiarly seductive charm of Italian art. It is rather a fine one and it seems to me rather confusing. Moreover I do not quite see the pertinency of the simile of a Psyche that is wafted as a butterfly even round blooms that have been spoiled of their treasure, for such I understand to be the sense of verkümmerte Blumen. A butterfly comes into no active relation with such unless the idea is pictorial decoration. But possibly Hegel was thinking of his reference to Dante, and in that case employed the metaphor loosely, rather too loosely I should say.

[341] "Stunted" is perhaps the best translation. The fault of the simile lies in its superficiality. It does not penetrate the conception Hegel has before him.

[342] Giotto, Mantegna, Carpaccio, Masaccio, would be leading names in point here. Hegel mentions two himself lower down.

[343] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. II, p. 4.

[344] Grelle. That is harsh and flagrant outline.

[345] Ihrer must refer I think to the Italians, though the sentence might mean, "In contrast to these Greek productions."

[346] Als Ueberzug. The expression suggests it was used as a facial glaze or varnish.

[347] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. I, p. 312.

[348] That is mixed with the attrited colour in its dryness.

[349] Leimen. Leim is size or lime, in the compound word leim-farbe signifying distemper.

[350] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. II, p. 42.

[351] Decam. Giorn., 6. Nov. 5.

[352] Such as S. Francis as presented us in Giotto's great frescoes in Assisi.

[353] No doubt the serious aspect is less imposingly emphasized; but if the opinion condemned below is too sweeping it remains the fact that we can imagine nothing more profoundly serious in the religious sense than the frescoes in the Arena Chapel in Padua.

[354] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. II, p. 73.

[355] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. II, p. 213.

[356] Aufgaben, artistic problems, themes.

[357] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. II, p. 243.

[358] This of course is too strong a statement, and indeed is ridiculous to anyone who has complete knowledge of the best work even of Giotto.

[359] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. II, p. 252.

[360] The frescoes of Mantegna, and those of Ghirlandaio, we would mention in particular the fine examples in the S. Maria Novella church in Florence, or for Mantegna our own cartoons at Hampton Court and the invaluable but now hopelessly ruined frescoes of Gozzoli, in the Campo Santo of Pisa, are fine illustrations of the text.

[361] Des inneren Geistes may here refer to the ideal aspects of civil and domestic life, but I think Hegel is contrasting the two extremes and it refers to the religious content.

[362] "Ital. Forsch.," vol. II, p. 282.

[363] To make this judgment in any degree a sound one we must assume the stress is laid on the mysterious aspect of expression and form. The genuine examples of Leonardo are so very few. But quite apart from that unless we exclude the great triumvirate of the Venetian school altogether Tintoret, Titian, and Veronese, the praise here given to Leonardo as a consummate master of the technique in oil-painting can only be received with considerable reserve and qualification.

[364] Compare "Ital. Forsch.," vol. II, p. 308.

[365] Die reinste Vollendung. The adjective refers to the character of the perfection as an expression of artistic feeling and execution.

[366] Halbdeutliche Erinnerungen. Not I think memories that are obscure themselves so much as memories which have failed to grasp the content of what is recollected. The expression is rather confused.

[367] Modern criticism would doubtless have a good deal to say in qualification of this. The name of Bellini alone is sufficiently suggestive.

[368] This emphasis on the work of Raphael and Correggio is characteristic of the best art criticism of the times of Hegel, but marks its limitations. Neither Raphael nor Correggio can be called religious painters in the sense that those profound masters Tintoret and Michelangelo were such. The essentially academic aspect of so much of Raphael's later production is not noticed. And it is these three great names, Titian, Tintoret, and Michelangelo, who most truly mark the transition to our modern outlook.

[369] Eine aüssere Abgeschlossenheit. This must mean, I think, a dignified and reserved treatment of the technique mainly of such themes.

[370] The technical and somewhat long-worded aspect of Hegel's style is here at its worst and I find it hard to make complete sense of this doubtless unrevised passage. The main difficulty is this, that the sentence appears to assert that "the centre" (der Mittelpunkt) of religion persists (fortbleibt) and yet asserts in the same breath that the informing unity is broken up. I have done my best.

[371] A piety which is not merely emotional, but is concrete in active life, possesses practical content.

[372] See note at end of chapter.

[373] This appears rather to contradict what Hegel has said before of the impression a fine picture such as Correggio's Magdalene leaves upon us that we cannot imagine the character to be other than it is. See note below.

[374] More literally, "Without the alleviating effect of what is comic."

[375] I presume die Formen refers here rather to the artistic forms of grouping and composition than the traits of vital expression. But perhaps the latter interpretation would be more natural to the words.

[376] The above survey of Dutch art is of great interest, and in its careful comparison of the type of that art with the national development of the Dutch may be contrasted favourably with the somewhat prejudiced criticism of such a critic as John Ruskin. At the same time I think it must be obvious that Hegel is a little inclined to overrate the ideal aspect of that portion of it we may indicate in the work of painters such as Wouvermans or Teniers, many examples of which are little removed from the defects of theme he points out in more modern work. Also personally I should say that, if we exclude the supreme genius of Rembrandt, he rather exaggerates their rank as supreme colourists in respect to the scintillation, mystery, and other effects of light. To consider that they rank above the Venetians in this respect is wholly impossible, to say nothing of Velasquez. Rubens, however, may add some support to the view, but he is hardly in the school described, and Van Dyck stands with him.

[Pg 338]




If we glance back at the course the evolution of the several arts has taken, we shall find that it began with architecture. It was the art which was least complete; for, as we discovered, it was, by reason of the purely solid material, which it attached to itself as its sensuous medium, and made use of according to the laws of gravity, incapable of placing before us under an adequate mode of presentation what is spiritual; it was consequently constrained to limit itself to the task of preparing from the resources of the mind an artistic external environment for Spirit in its living and actual existence.

Sculpture, on the contrary, and in the second place, was able, it is true, to accept the spiritual itself as its object. It was, however, neither one in the sense of a particular character, nor as the intimate personal life of soul, but rather as a free individuality, which is as little separate from the substantive content as it is from the corporeal appearance of Spirit; a presentment which only displays itself as such individuality, in so far as the same enters into it, in the degree that the same is actually required to import an individual vitality into a content which is itself intrinsically essential. Moreover, it only, as such ideal spiritualization, is fused with the bodily configuration to the extent of revealing the essentially inviolable union of Spirit with that natural embodiment which is consonant therewith. This necessary identity in the art of sculpture of Spirit's independent existence wholly with its corporeal organization, rather than with the medium of its own ideal essence, makes it incumbent upon the art still to retain solid matter as its material, but to transform the configuration of the same, not, as was the case[Pg 339] with architecture, into a purely inorganic environment, but rather into the classical beauty adequate to Spirit and its ideal plastic realization.

And just as sculpture in this respect proved itself to be pre-eminently fitted to give vitality to the content and mode of expression of the classical type of art in its products, while architecture, despite all the service it rendered in the content which belonged to it, was unable in its manner of presentation to pass beyond the fundamental mode of a purely symbolical significance, so, too, thirdly, with the art of painting, we enter the province of the romantic. No doubt we find still in painting that the external form is the means by virtue of which the ideal presence is revealed. In this case, however, this ideality is actually the ideal and particular subjectivity, is, in short, the soul-life returning upon itself from its corporeal existence, is the individual passion and emotion of character and heart, which are no longer exclusively delivered in the external form, but mirror in the same the very ideal substance and activity of Spirit in the domain of its own conditions, aims, and actions. On account of this intimate ideality of its content the art of painting is unable to rest satisfied with a material that, in one aspect of it, is in its shape merely solid matter, and in another as such crude form is merely tangible and unparticularized, but is forced to select exclusively the show and colour semblance of the same as its sensuous means of expression. The colour, however, is only present in order to make still apparent spatial forms and shapes as we find them in the actuality of Life, even in the case where we see the art developed into all the magic of colouring, in which the objective fact at the same time already begins to vanish away, and the effect is produced by what appears to be no longer anything material at all. However much, therefore, painting is evolved in the direction of a more ideal independence of a kind of appearance which is no longer attached to shape as such, but is permitted to pass spontaneously into its own proper element, that is, into the play of visibility and reflection, into all the mysteries of chiaroscuro, yet this magic of colour is still throughout of a spatial mode, it is an appearance growing out of juxtaposition on a flat surface, and consequently a consubsistent one.

[Pg 340]

1. If, however, this ideal essence, as is already the case under the principle of painting, asserts itself in fact as subjective soul-life, in that case the truly adequate medium cannot remain of a type which possesses independent subsistency. And for this reason we get a mode of expression and communication, in the sensuous material of which we do not find objectivity disclosed as spatial configuration, in order that it may have consistency therein. We require a material which is without such stability in its relation to what is outside it, and which vanishes again in the very moment of its origin and presence. Now the art that finally annihilates not merely one form of spatial dimension, but the conditions of Space entirely, which is completely withdrawn into the ideality of soul-life, both in its aspect of conscious life and in that of its external expression, is our second romantic art—Music. In this respect it constitutes the genuine centre of that kind of presentment which accepts the inner personal life as such, both for its content and form. It no doubt manifests as art this inner life, but in this very objectification retains its subjective character. In other words it does not, as plastic art, suffer the expression in which it is self-enclosed to be independently free or to attain an essentially tranquil self-subsistency, but cancels the same as objectivity, and will not suffer externality to secure for itself an inviolable presence[377] over against it.

In so far, however, as this annihilation of spatial objectivity, regarded as a means of manifestation, is an abandonment of the same which is itself already in anticipation asserted of the sensuous spatiality of the plastic arts themselves[378], this principle of negation must also in a similar way have its activity conditioned by the materiality, which, up to this point, we have indicated as one of tranquil independent self-subsistency, just as the art of painting reduces in its province the spatial dimensions of sculpture to the simple surface. This cancelling of the spatial form therefore merely consists in this, that a specific sensuous material surrenders its tranquil relation of juxtaposition, is, in other words,[Pg 341] placed in motion but is so essentially affected by that motion that every portion of the coherent bodily substance not merely changes its position, but also is reacted upon and reacts upon the previous condition[379]. The result of this oscillating vibration is tone, the medium of music.

In tone music forsakes the element of external form and its sensuous visibility, and requires for the apprehension of its results another organ of sense, namely hearing, which, as also the sight, does not belong to the senses of action but those y of contemplation; and is, in fact, still more ideal than sight. For the unruffled, aesthetic observation of works of art no doubt permits the objects to stand out quietly in their freedom just as they are without any desire to impair that effect in any way; but that which it apprehends is not that which is itself essentially ideally composed[380], but rather on the contrary, that which receives its consistency in its sensuous existence. The ear, on the contrary, receives the result of that ideal vibration of material substance[381], without placing itself in a practical relation towards the objects, a result by means of which it is no longer the material object in its repose, but the first example of the more ideal activity of the soul itself which is apprehended. And for the further reason that the negativity into which the oscillating medium here enters is from one point of view an annihilation of the spatial condition, which is itself removed by means of the[Pg 342] reaction of the body[382], the expression of this twofold negation, that is tone, is a mode of externality which, in virtue of its very mode of existence, is in its very origination self-destructive, and there and then itself fundamentally disappears. And it is by virtue of this twofold negation of externality, in which the root-principle of tone consists, that the same corresponds to the ideal personal life; this resonance which, in its essential explicitness[383], is something more ideal than the subsistent corporeality in its independent reality, also discloses this more ideal existence[384], and thereby offers a mode of expression suited to the ideality of conscious life.

2. If we now, by a reverse process, inquire of what type this inner life must be, if we are to prove it on its own account adapted to the expression of sound and tones, we may recall the fact already observed that by itself, that is, accepted as a real mode of objectivity, tone, in contrast to the material of the plastic arts, is wholly abstract. Stone and colour receive the forms of an extensive and varied world of objects, and place them before us in their actual existence. Tones are unable to do this. For musical expression therefore it is only the inner life of soul that is wholly devoid of an object which is appropriate, in other words, the abstract personal experience simply. This is our entirely empty ego, the self without further content. The fundamental task of music will therefore consist in giving a resonant reflection, not to objectivity in its ordinary material sense, but to the mode and modifications under which the most intimate self of the soul, from the point of view of its subjective life and ideality, is essentially moved.

[Pg 343]

3. We may say the same of the effect of music. The paramount claim of that, too, is the direct contact with the most intimate ideality of conscious life. It is more than any other the art of the soul, and is immediately addressed to that. The art of painting, no doubt, as we have observed, is able to express in physiognomy and facial traits with other things the inner life and its activity, the moods and passions of the heart, the situations, conflicts, and fatalities of the soul; what, however, we have before us in pictures are objective appearances, from which the self of contemplation, in its most ideal self-identity, is still held distinctly apart. However much we become absorbed in or penetrate into the object, the situation, the character, the forms of a statue or a picture, admire a work of art, lose ourselves in or possess ourselves with it, the fact still remains that these works of art are and remain objects of independent subsistency, in respect to which it is quite impossible for us to escape the relation of external observation disappears. In music, however, this distinction disappears. Its content is that which is itself essentially a part of our own personal[385] life, and its expression does not result at the same time in an objective mode of spatial persistency, but discloses, in virtue of the continuity and freedom of its flight as it appears and vanishes[386], that it is a manifestation, which, instead of possessing itself an independent consistency, is dependent for its support on the ideality of conscious life, and only can exist for that inward realm. Tone is therefore no doubt a mode of both expression and externality; but it is an expression which inevitably disappears precisely at the point of and in virtue of becoming externality. At the very moment that our organ of sense receives the sound it is gone. The impression that should[Pg 344] be given is at once transferred to the tablets of memory. The tones merely resound in the depths of the soul, which are thereby seized upon in their ideal substance, and suffused with emotion. This ideality of content and mode of expression in the sense that it is devoid of all external object defines the purely formal aspect of music. It has no doubt a content, but it is not a content such as we mean when referring either to the plastic arts or poetry. What it lacks is just this configuration of an objective other-to-itself, whether we mean by such actual external phenomena, or the objectivity of intellectual ideas and images. We may indicate the course of our further examination as follows:

In the first place we have to define more accurately the general character of music and its effect in contradistinction to the other arts, not merely from the point of view of its material, but also from that of its form, which the spiritual content accepts.

Secondly, we shall have to discuss the particular distinctions, in which musical tones and their modes[387] are developed and mediated partly in respect to their temporal duration, and partly in relation to the qualitative distinctions of their actual resonance.

Thirdly, and in conclusion, music possesses a relation to the content, which it expresses, either by being associated as an accompaniment[388] with emotions, ideas, and considerations independently expressed by word of mouth, or by its free expansion within its own domain in unfettered independence.

In proposing now, however, after having thus in a general way specified the principle and division of the subject-matter of Music, to enter into a more detailed examination of its particular aspects, we are inevitably confronted with a peculiar difficulty. In other words, for the reason that the musical medium of tone and ideality, in which the content moves as a process, is of so abstract and formal a character, it is impossible for us to attempt such a closer survey without at the same time broaching technical formulae and definitions[Pg 345] such as belong to the relations of tone-measure or distinctions that apply to different instruments, scales, or chords. I must admit to no expert knowledge in this sphere of musical science, and can only offer my apologies for being unable to do more than limit myself to more general points of view and a few isolated observations.


The essential points of view which are of general importance in a survey of music we may examine under the following heads of division:

First, we have to compare music on the one hand with the plastic arts, and on the other with poetry.

Secondly, we shall by means of the above comparison be in a better position to understand the way in which music is able to master and disclose a given content.

Thirdly, and as a result of the latter inquiry, we may with more accuracy explain the peculiar effect which the art of music, in contradistinction to the other arts, exercises on the soul.

(a) With regard to the first point we should, if we are desirous of setting it forth clearly in its specific individuality, compare music with the other two arts from three distinct points of view.

(α) And, first, it may be observed that it stands in a relation of affinity to architecture, although it is in strong contrast with it.

(αα) Our meaning is this. In the art of building the content which should be made apparent in architectonic forms, does not, as is the case in works of sculpture and painting, wholly enter into the configuration, but remains distinct from it as an external environment; so, too, in music, under its aspect of the most specifically romantic art, the classical identity of ideality and its external existence receives its resolution in a similar, if converse, way to that in which architecture, as the symbolical type of presentation, was not as yet wholly able to secure such a unity. For this ideality of Spirit proceeds from what is purely the concentration of soul-life, to ideas and images and the forms of such, as[Pg 346] elaborated by the imagination, whereas the art of music is throughout more occupied in expressing merely the element of feeling and furthermore surrounds the independently expressed ideas of the mind with the melodic chime of emotions, just as architecture in its province places around the statues of the god, no doubt in an unyielding way, the reasonable forms of its columns, walls, and entablatures[389].

(ββ) In this way tone and its formative combinations is for the first time a medium created by art and entirely artistic expression of a wholly different type from that we find in painting and sculpture acting through the material of the human body and its pose and physiognomy. In this respect, too, music may be more nearly compared with architecture, which does not accept its forms from what is actually presented, but as the creation of human invention, in order to inform them, partly according to the laws of gravity, and in part according to the rules of symmetry and harmonious co-ordination. Music does the same thing in its own sphere, in so far as it from one point of view follows the harmonious laws of tone which depend on quantitative relations independently of the expression of emotion, and in another aspect of it, in the recurrence of time and rhythm no less than in the further development of the tones themselves, in many respects is subject to the forms of regularity and symmetry. Consequently we find operative in music not merely the profoundest ideality and soul, but the most rigorous, rationality. It unites, in fact, two extremes, which readily lend themselves to emphatic contrast in their independent self-assertion. In this aspect of independence music more particularly assumes an architectonic character when we find in it a coherent temple of harmony of its own creatively[Pg 347] composed and co-ordinated according to the laws of music, and released from the direct expression of soul-life[390].

(γγ) Despite all this similarity, however, the art of tones moves to quite as large a degree in a sphere wholly opposed to that of architecture. We find, no doubt, in both arts as a basis quantitative or more accurately measure relations; the material, however, which in each case is informed, agreeably to such relations, is totally different. Architecture attaches itself to the heavy sensuous material in its tranquil juxtaposition and external form in Space. Music, on the contrary, lays hold of the tone-spirit[391] as it rings freely out of the spatial material in the qualitative distinctions of musical sound and in the flow of a movement subject to the condition of time. For this reason the works of both arts belong to two entirely distinct spheres of spiritual activity. The art of building places in an enduring form its colossal constructions for external contemplation in symbolical forms. The swiftly evanescent world of tones, on the other hand, directly penetrates through the ears of man to the depths of his soul, attuning the same in concordant emotional sympathy.

(β) And if we, in the second place, consider the closer relation of music to the two other plastic arts[392], we shall find that the similarity and distinction, which attaches to such a comparison, is in some measure founded upon the truths already enunciated.

(αα) Of these music is furthest removed from sculpture; and this is not merely so in respect to material and type of configuration, but also in that of the completed coalescence of its ideal and external aspects. There is in short a closer affinity between painting and music. In part this is due to the predominant ideality of expression exemplified in both; in part it is referable to treatment of material, in which, as we have already seen, it is permissible for the art of painting[Pg 348] to approach the very boundary of music itself. Painting has, however, for its aim in common with sculpture the representation of an objective form in Space, and is restricted in its material to the actual form of things already present outside the sphere of art. It is unquestionably true that neither in the case of the painter nor the sculptor do we accept a human countenance, a position of the human body, the outlines of a mountain, the leafage of a tree precisely in the forms they present to us as here or there in Nature; in both cases we are bound to justify what we have before us under the conditions of the art in question, to adapt it to a particular situation, no less than to employ it as a means of expressing the inevitable artistic result of the entire content of the work. We have, therefore, in both cases on the one hand an independently recognized content, which has to receive artistic individualization, and, on the other, we are confronted with the forms of Nature as they are similarly presented in isolation; and the artist is bound, if he be truly an artist, and seek to unite these two sources of inspiration in his composition, to discover in both the material and support[393] for his conception and execution. In short, he will, acting in the first instance on the security of such general principles[394], endeavour on the one hand to fill out with more concrete detail the generality of his imaginative idea, and on the other to idealize and spiritualize the human or any other of the forms of Nature, which are submitted to serve him as particular models. The musician, on the contrary, it is true, does not abstract from all and every content, but finds the same in a text, which he sets to music, or with absolute freedom gives musical utterance to some definite mood in the form of a theme, which he proceeds to elaborate. The actual region, however, of his compositions remains the more formal ideality, in other words pure tones, and his absorption of content becomes rather a retreat into the free life of his own soul, a voyage of discovery into that,[Pg 349] and in many departments of music even a confirmation, that he as artist is free of the content. If we are in a general way permitted to regard human activity in the realm of the beautiful as a liberation of the soul, as a release from constraint and restriction, in short to consider that art does actually alleviate the most overpowering and tragic catastrophies[395] by means of the creations it offers to our contemplation and enjoyment, it is the art of music which conducts us to the final summit of that ascent to freedom. Or in other language that which the plastic arts secure through the objective fact of a plastic beauty, which displays the entirety of human life, human nature as such, its universal and ideal significance, in the detail of its particularity, without losing that essential harmony, this effect music must produce in a wholly different manner. The plastic artist need only exhibit, in that which is enclosed in the conception, what was already therein from the first, so that every detail in its essential determinacy is merely a closer explication of the totality which already floats before the mind in virtue of the content which is there to exhibit it. A figure, for example, in a plastic work of art, requires in this or that situation a body, hands, feet, bust, a head with a given expression, a given pose, other figures, or other aspects to which it is related as a whole, etc., and all these aspects presuppose the others, in making collectively essentially complete work. The elaboration of the theme is in such a case merely a more accurate analysis of that which already itself essentially contains it, and the more elaborate the picture is, which thereby confronts us, the more concentrated is the unity, and the stronger becomes the connection of the parts. The most consummate expression of detail must be, if the work of art is the best class, at the same time an elucidation of the highest form of unity. No doubt the ideal articulation and rounding off in a whole, in which the one part follows inevitably from another, ought to be present in a musical composition. But in some measure the execution here is of a totally different type, and moreover we can only accept the unity in a restricted sense.

(ββ) In a musical theme the significance which has to be[Pg 350] expressed is already exhausted[396]. If it is repeated or carried on to further oppositions and mediations these repetitions, modulations, and elaborations by means of other scales may very readily appear superfluous, and rather are appertinent to the purely musical development and the assimilation of the varied content of harmonic progressions which are neither demanded by the content itself[397], nor remain dependent upon it, whereas in the plastic arts the execution of the detail and the passage to it is simply and always a more accurate exhibition and analysis of the content itself.

But of course it is impossible to deny that another theme is actually motived by the way a theme is developed, and each of them, then, in their alternation or their interfusion progress, change, are at one time suppressed, at another emphasized, and by their victory or defeat are able to make a content explicit in its more definite features, oppositions, transitions, developments, and resolutions. But in this case, too, the unity is not made more profound and concentrated by virtue of such elaboration as is the case in sculpture and painting, but is rather an expansion, an extension, a correlative series[398], an addition of remoteness or a return, for which the content, which is thus expressed, remains no doubt the universal centrum, yet does not keep the whole so securely together as we find it is possible to do in the plastic arts, particularly where their subject-matter is confined to the human organism.

(γγ) Looked at from this point of view the art of music, as contrasted with the other arts, lies too close to the medium of that formal freedom of soul life, and thereby cannot fail to a greater or less degree to be diverted beyond what is actually presented, in other words the content[399]. The[Pg 351] recollection of a theme proposed is likewise a self-revealment[400] of the artist, in other words is an ideal realization, to the effect that this self is the artist, and he may progress just as he likes, and by what by-paths he likes. But on the other hand the free exercise of imaginative caprice of the above description is expressly to be distinguished from a musical composition which is essentially conclusive, that is to say, which constitutes a fundamentally self-integrated totality. In the free improvization[401] the absence of restrictions is itself an object, so that the artist is able to assert his caprice in the acceptance of any material he chooses, to interweave acknowledged melodies and motives in his improvized productions, to emphasize some new aspect of such, to elaborate them in a variety of modifications, or make them steps in his progression to other material, and advance from thence in the same way to developments of still more arresting contrasts.

In general, however, a musical composition determines the freedom of the composer, either by limiting it to a more self-contained execution, and the observance of what we may describe as a more plastic unity, or by permitting him with the full force of his personality and caprice to pass at every point into more or less important digressions, to let spontaneous ideas travel hither and thither as they please, to lay stress for the moment on this or that motive, and then once more to drown it in an overwhelming torrent. While, then, the study of Nature's forms is essential to both painter and sculptor, the art of music can look for no such fixed body of fact outside its own prescribed forms, with which it would be forced to comply. The extent of the regularity and necessity of its formal character is almost[Pg 352] wholly determined within the sphere of tone itself, which does not come into so close an association[402] with the definition of the content that is therein reposed, and consequently in respect to deviations beyond the same permits for the most part a considerable opportunity for the free play of the characteristic impulse of the composer.

And this is the main point of view, from which we may contract music with the strictly plastic arts.

(γ) Looked at from another aspect music is, in the third place[403], most nearly affiliated to poetry; both in fact make use of the same sensuous medium, that is, tone. Despite this, however, these arts are very strongly distinct from one another not only in virtue of the mode of treating tones in each case, but also in respect to their different modes of expression.

(αα) In poetry, as we have found already in our general differentiation of the several arts, tone is not as such elicited and artistically produced by various humanly constructed instruments, but the articulate sound of the human organ of speech is reduced to the mere symbol of speech, retaining thereby nothing more than the value of a sign of ideas, which is by itself devoid of significance. Consequently we find here that tone remains throughout a self-subsistent sensuous entity, which, as the mere symbol of emotions, ideas, and thoughts, possesses the externality and objectivity which is inherent in itself simply in virtue of the fact that is a sign and nothing more. For the true objectivity of the soul-life as such does not consist in utterance and words, but in this fact, that I, as subject, am aware of a thought, a feeling, and so forth, that further I confront it as an object, and in this way have it present to the imagination, or forthwith develop for myself what is implicit in a thought or a conception, setting forth in a series the external and spiritual relations of the given content, and relating the particular features of it to one another. Unquestionably we think throughout in[Pg 353] language, without, however, needing actual speech as spoken. By reason of this ability to dispense with speech-utterance in its sensuous aspect as contrasted with the spiritual content of ideas, etc., to elucidate which they[404] are employed, tone receives once more self-subsistency. In the art of painting no doubt colour and its arrangement, regarded simply as colour, is likewise by itself without significance, and in the same way, as contrasted with the spiritual embodied, thereby a self-substantive sensuous medium; but we get no painting from colour simply as such: we must first attach to it form and its expression. With these spiritually animated forms colouring is brought into an association by many degrees more constrained than that which pertains to uttered speech and its coalescing result of words with ideas.

If we will now look at the distinction between the poetical and musical use of tones we shall find that music does not depress the tone sound to the mere speech-utterance, but creates out of tone simply its own independent medium, so that, in so far as there is musical tone, it is treated as the object of the art[405]. And on account of this the realm of tone, inasmuch as it cannot serve merely as a symbol, is by virtue of this emancipated function of its life[406] able to attain to a mode of configuration, which makes the form that is its peculiar possession, that is to say, the modes of tone as artistically developed, its fundamental aim and object. In recent times especially, the art of music, by its wresting itself from all content that is independently lucid, has withdrawn into the depths of its own medium. But on this very account and to this extent it has lost its compelling power[407][Pg 354] over the soul, inasmuch as the enjoyment, which is thus offered, is only applicable to one aspect of art, in other words, is only an interest in the purely musical characteristics of the composition and its artistic dexterity, an aspect which wholly concerns the musical expert, and is less connected with the universal human interest in art.

(ββ) All that poetry loses, however, in external objectivity by being able to place on one side its sensuous medium, in so far as that can be wholly dispensed with by art, it secures for itself, in the ideal objectivity of its vision and ideas, which poetical speech presents to soul and mind. For it is the function of imagination to clothe these concepts, emotions, and thoughts in a world that is itself essentially complete[408] with its events, actions, moods, and exhibitions of passion, and by this means it creates works, into which the entire fabric of reality, both in its external aspect as phenomena and in the ideal significance of its content, is brought home to the emotions, vision, and imagination of spiritual life. It is this type of objectivity which the art of music, in so far as it asserts its independent claims in its own province, is compelled to renounce. In other words, the realm of tone possesses, no doubt, as I have already indicated, a relation to the soul, and an alliance which is consonant with its spiritual movement; but it fails to pass beyond a sympathetic relation which is always of an indefinite character, albeit in this aspect of it a musical composition, if originating in the soul-life itself, and permeated by genius and emotions of a rich quality, cannot fail to react on our nature with an equivalent power and variety. In the case of a content and the ideal and personal creation such as poetry implies our emotions pass more completely out of their elementary medium of undefined conscious life into the more concrete vision and more universal[409] imagination which is embodied in such content. This may also be the effect of a musical composition, so soon as the emotions which it excites in ourselves by virtue of its own nature and the artistic energy that animates it are involved more closely in ourselves[Pg 355] with a distinct vision and ideas, and thereby present to consciousness the tangible definition of soul-impressions in a more stable outlook and more universally accepted ideas. This is, however, our imagination and vision, which no doubt has been suggested by the musical work, but which has not been itself directly disclosed by virtue of the artistic elaboration of musical tones. Poetry, on the contrary, expresses emotions, perceptions, and ideas as they are[410], and is further able to delineate a picture of external objects, although it cannot itself either attain to the plastic clarity of sculpture and painting or the spiritual intimacy of music, and is consequently obliged to call as auxiliary to its powers the direct vision we otherwise receive through the senses and the speechless apprehension of soul-life in music.

(γγ) Thirdly, however, the art of music does not confine itself to this independent position over against that of poetry and the spiritual content of conscious life. It allies itself with a clearly expressed content already completely elaborated by poetry, and as the accompaniment of emotions, opinions, events, and actions. If, however, the musical aspect of such a work of art remains the fundamental and predominant one, the poetry, whether in the form of poem, drama, or any other, has no right to assert an independent claim of its own therein. And as a general rule in this association, of music and poetry the preponderance of one art is injurious to the other. If therefore the text, a poetical[Pg 356] creation, possesses a fully independent value of its own, the support to be expected from music should be merely an insignificant one, as we find, for example, was the case with the dramatic choruses of the ancients where the music was nothing more than an incidental accompaniment. If, conversely, the music is composed with a more independent individuality of its own, then the text in its turn should be of a more superficially poetical execution, and should as an independent production confine itself to emotions of a general character and ideas depicted on universal lines. The poetical elaboration of profound thoughts is as little appropriate to a good musical text as is the delineation of the objects of external Nature or descriptive poetry generally. Songs, operatic arias, the texts of oratorios, and so forth may be consequently, so far as the detail of their execution as poetry is concerned, jejune and of a certain degree of mediocrity. The poet must not make his merits as poet too conspicuous if the musician is to find in his text a genuine opportunity. In this respect it is especially the Italians, such as Metastasio and others, who have displayed the greatest skill, while Schiller's poems, which were never written with such an object in view at all, have been shown to be ill adapted and indeed useless for musical composition[411]. In cases where the music receives a more artistic elaboration, the audience understands next to nothing of the text, and this is more particularly so with our German speech and pronunciation[412]. For this reason it is not in the interest of music that the weight of interest should be reposed in the text.[Pg 357] An Italian audience, for example, chatters away during the unimportant scenes of an opera, takes refreshment, plays cards, and so on; but the instant an aria of emphatic appeal or an important musical movement begins, every section of it is all attention. We Germans, on the contrary, take the greatest interest in the fortunes and speeches of the princes and princesses of opera with attendants, squires, intimates, and waiting-maids, and we do not doubt there are many among us still who regret the fact, when the singing begins, that the interest is interrupted, and take their refuge in conversation.

In religious music also the text is either for the most part a well-known credo, or a selection of single psalms, so that the words are regarded as merely an incitement to a musical commentary, which possesses an independent style peculiar to itself, that is to say one which not merely is used to expound the text, but which for the most part simply emphasizes the universal character of the content much in the same way that painting selects its material from sacred history.

(b) The second aspect of our present inquiry is that of the distinction that obtains between the way in which the art of music lays hold of its subject-matter as contrasted with the other arts, the form, that is, in which, whether it be as an accompaniment or independently of a given text, it is able to apprehend and express a particular content. As to this I have already observed that music is not only more capable than the other arts of liberating itself from an actual text, but also from the expression of a definite content, in order that it may find its satisfaction in an essentially complete series of combinations, modifications, contrasts, and modulations, which are comprised within the realm of absolute music[413]. In such a case, however, music is empty, without significance, and is, for the reason that one fundamental aspect of art, namely spiritual content and expression, is absent, not really genuine music at all. It is only when that which is of spiritual import is adequately[Pg 358] expressed in the sensuous medium of tones and their varied configuration that music attains entirely to its position as a true art, and irrespective of the fact whether this content receives an independent and more direct definition by means of words, or is perforce emotionally realized from the tone music itself and its harmonic relations and melodic animation.

(α) In this respect the unique function of music consists in this, that whatever its content may be it is not so created by the art for human apprehension as though it either was held by consciousness as a general concept is so contained, or as definite external form is ordinarily presented to our perception, or as such receives its more complete reflection in the artistic counterfeit, but rather in the way in which a content is made a living thing in the sphere of the personal soul. To make this essentially veiled life and in weaved motion ring forth through the independent texture of tones, or attach itself to expressed words and ideas, and to steep such ideas in this very medium, in order to re-emphasize anew the same for feeling and sympathy, such is the difficult task assigned to the art of music.

(αα) The life of soul itself is consequently the form in which music is able to grasp its content, and thereby seeks to absorb within itself everything that can generally enter into the shrine of the soul and above all disclose itself under the veils of emotional movement. But from this it necessarily follows that the art of music must not attempt to minister to sense-perception, but must restrict its effort to making soul-life intelligible to soul, whether this is effected by its making the substantive and ideal depth of a content as such penetrate to the very core of soul itself, or by its preferring to disclose the life and motion of a content in the soul of some particular person, so that this inward life of itself becomes its actual object.

(ββ) This abstract inwardness of soul is in the most intimate sense differentiated, under the mode in which music is related to it, by feelings in other words the self-expanding medium of the personal subject, which unquestionably moves in a content, but suffers the same to persist in this direct self-seclusion of the Ego, and in a relation to the Ego, that is, void of externality. Consequently feeling is[Pg 359] throughout simply all the envelope of that content, and it is the sphere which is claimed by music[414].

(γγ) It is a province which unfolds in expanse the expression of every kind of emotion, and every shade of joyfulness, merriment, jest, caprice, jubilation and laughter of the soul, every gradation of anguish, trouble, melancholy, lament, sorrow, pain, longing and the like, no less than those of reverence, adoration, and love fall within the appropriate limits of its expression.

(β) Tone as interjection, as the cry of grief, as sigh and laughter, is already, outside the province of art, the most immediately vital expression of soul-conditions and feelings, the ah and oh of the soul. We find in it a self-production and objectivity of soul as such, an expression which stands intermediately between unconscious absorption and the self-return to thoughts ideally determinate, a disclosure, which has no relation to external fact, but is confined to the contemplative state, just as the bird, too, in its song possesses this enjoyment and this production of its inner self.

The purely natural expression, however, of interjections is not as yet music, for though these outcries are no doubt no intentionally articulate sign of ideas as speech is and consequently express no conceived content in its generalized form as concept, but give vent to a mood and emotion in and through tone itself, a state which is reposed immediately in similar tones and opens the heart in the outburst of the same, yet this emancipation is not one which is promoted by art. The art of music must on the contrary bring the emotions into tone relations of definite structure, and wean the expression of Nature of its wildness, its uncouth deliverance, and ameliorate it.

We may perhaps say that interjections constitute the point of departure of music; but it is only music when an interjection in the form of a cadenza, and in this respect it has to elaborate its senuous material artistically in a higher degree than either painting or poetry before it is qualified to express the content of spirit. We shall have to examine later on more narrowly the particular way in which the content[Pg 360] of music is worked up to such a pitch of adaptability; at present I will merely repeat the observation that the tones are themselves essentially a totality of differences, which are capable of disuniting and uniting themselves in the most varied kinds of immediate concords, essential discords, oppositions and transitions. To these opposed and united tones, no less than the differentiation of their movements and transitions, their entry, their progression, their conflict, their self-resolution and their disappearance, the ideal character both of this or that content and of the emotions, in the form whereof both heart and soul obtains the mastery of such content, corresponds in closer or more remote affinity, so that the like tone relations, apprehended and informed conformably thereto, disclose the animated expression of that which is present to Spirit as definable content.

The medium of tone asserts itself as more cognate with the ideally simple essence of a content than the senuous material previously dealt with for this reason that tone instead of making itself secure in spatial form and coming to a halt as the varied presentment of juxtaposition and extension, is comprised in the ideal realm of Time, and for this reason does not progress to a condition under which simple ideality and concrete bodily shape and appearance are differentiated. And this is equally true of the form of the feeling of a content whose expression mainly falls upon the art of music. In other words in sense-perception and conception we have already, as in self-conscious thought, the necessary distinction between the perceiving, conceiving and thinking Ego and the object of perception, conception, and thought. In emotion, however, this distinction is resolved, or rather it is never propounded, but the content is interwoven with the inner life without such division. When consequently music is united as an art of accompaniment with poetry, or conversely poetry is united with music as an interpreter to its elucidation, in such a case music is unable to render conspicuous in an external form or to reflect with intention ideas and thoughts as they are thus apprehended by self-consciousness; it is obliged as stated either to offer the simple character of a content in true relations to feeling, as they are cognate with the ideal relation of this content, or to seek more nearly to express, by means of[Pg 361] tones which accompany and give intensity to poetry, that feeling itself, which the content of perceptions and ideas can arouse in the spirit that is both sympathetic and imaginative.

(c) Following the course of these remarks it is possible in the third place to form an estimate of the unrivalled power which is thereby directly exercised by music on the soul, which is neither carried forward to the vision of reason, nor diverts consciousness in isolated points of view, but is accustomed to live within the ideal range and secluded depths of pure emotion. For it is precisely this sphere, the intimacy of soul-life, the abstract appropriation of its own realm, which is grasped by music, which thereby sets in movement the source of these ideal changes, namely, the heart and soul, which we may consider at this concentrated focus and centre of our entire manhood.

(α) In a particular sense sculpture endows its art products with a wholly independent subsistency, an objectivity essentially exclusive whether we regard it from the point of view of its content, or that of its external art-manifestation. Its content is the substantive being of the life of Spirit possessed no doubt with individual vitality, but along with this reposing in self-subsistent coherence on itself; its form is the material configuration under the condition of space. For this reason a work of sculpture retains as an object of sense-perception the highest degree of self-subsistency. A picture, as we have already pointed out in our consideration of the art of painting, comes into closer contact with the spectator. In part this is due to the essentially more subjective[415] content thereby depicted; in part it is referable to the fact that it is merely the show of reality which it displays, thereby making us aware that it is not a thing independently substantive, but rather essentially something intended for something else, and exclusively so, in other words for the human vision and soul. Yet even in the case of a picture we have still left us a freedom more independent it fails to absorb; even here we have still only to do with an object externally presented, which only reaches us through sense perception, and only thus excites our emotion and imagination. The spectator may consequently approach the work of art as he likes; he[Pg 362] may observe this or that aspect of it; he may analyse the whole, as it throughout persists confronting him, may make it the object of various reflections, and in short remain throughout at liberty to continue his independent review of it.

(αα) The musical work of art, on the contrary, no doubt, as such a work, posits in like manner the incipiency of a distinction between the work itself and the individual that enjoys it; that is to say in its actually resonant tones it receives a sensuous existence that is distinct from the soul of the listener. But on the one hand this opposition does not proceed, as in the case of the plastic arts, to an external subsistency in Space and the visibility of a mode of objectivity that coheres independently, but on the contrary makes its real existence vanish in the immediate passage through Time. On the other hand the art of music does not make the separation of its external material from its spiritual content in the same way that poetry does so, in which the aspect of idea is elaborated with more definite independence from the sound of speech[416], and more cut off as it is than any of the arts from this aspect of externality, issues as such in a unique progression of mental ideas constructed by the imagination. No doubt the observation may readily be made here that, agreeably with what I have already stated, the art of music is able to conversely to release tones from their content and thereby give them independent form; this liberation is, however, not that which really falls within Art's province, which on the contrary wholly consists in employing harmonious and melodic motion for the expression of the content originally selected and the emotions, which the same is qualified to excite. Inasmuch as, therefore, musical expression has for its content the inward life itself, the ideal significance of fact and emotion, and a tone-world which, at least in art, does not proceed to spatial configuration, and in its sensuous existence is wholly evanescent, it follows that music directly penetrates with its movements to the ideal habitat of all the fluctuations of soul-life. In other words it seizes on consciousness, where it is no longer confronted with an object, and in the loss of this freedom from the flood of tones as it streams on is itself whirled away with it[417].[Pg 363] Yet there is here, too, by reason of the divers directions which music may separately follow, an effect of varied character. In other words, when a more profound content, or, to put it generally, an expression more steeped in soul, is absent, we may find as a result that we experience on the one hand delight in the purely sensuous sound and harmony without any further emotional movement, or, on the other hand, we follow the course of the harmony and melody with our critical judgment, a progression by which the inmost heart of us is no further touched or affected. Or rather we may say that pre-eminently in the case of music there is such a purely critical analysis, for which there is nothing else presented in the work of art to evoke it beyond the skill of an expert in its laboured production[418]. If we, however, withdraw ourselves from this critical science, and give ourselves up unreservedly, we become entirely possessed with the musical composition and are carried with it quite independently of the power, which the art of it simply as art exercises upon us. And the peculiar power of music is an elementary force, that is to say it lies in the element of tone, in which the art here moves.

(ββ) The individual is not only carried away by this medium in virtue of the character of its exposition in any particular case, or simply drawn to it by the specific content thereof; but, viewed simply as self-conscious subject, the core and centre of his spiritual existence is interwoven with the work and himself placed in active relations with it. We have, for example, in the emphasis of the music's current rhythms, an opportunity to beat in time with it, or unite our voices with the melody, and in the case of dance-music at least, we may associate the movement of our legs. And, generally speaking, the claim is made upon us as distinct personalities. Conversely, in the case of purely methodical action, which, in so far as it is subject to time relations, is compatible with a distinct beat in virtue of its regularity and possesses no further content, we require on the one hand an expression of this regularity as such in order that this action shall be present to the individual under a mode that is itself[Pg 364] subjective; and, on the other, we require a more intimate realization of this rhythm. Both requirements are supplied by the musical accompaniment. This is effected, for instance, by music as associated with the march of soldiers. Such arouses the soul to the rhythmical beat of the march, makes the individual full of the fact of his marching[419] and steeps him in the harmonious action of it. In something of the same sense the unregulated bustle of a table d'hôte and the unsatisfactory excitement it arouses annoys many people. Such feel that the moving up and down, the clatter and chatter should be subject to rule, and as we have in our eating and drinking an empty space of time to deal with, we should have that emptiness filled up for us. Such, therefore, is also an occasion among many others when music will help us considerably, suggesting as it does other thoughts, recreations, and ideas.

(γγ) In these instances we are made aware of the connection between the individual soul with Time simply, a condition in which the medium of music consists. In other words the inward life regarded as subjective unity is the active negation of the indifferent[420] juxtaposition in Space, and thereby negative unity. In the first instance, however, this identity remains in itself entirely abstract and void of content, and consists merely in this that it makes itself an object, though it then annuls this objectivity, which is itself of a wholly ideal type and of the same character which the subject of consciousness is, in order thereby to enforce itself as subjective unity. An ideal negative activity of the same kind in its sphere of externality is Time. For in the first place it effaces the indifferent co-extension of the spatial condition and concentrates the continuity of the same in the point of Time, the Now. The point of time, however, secondly, discloses itself at the same time as negation of itself; in other words this Now no sooner is than it annuls itself in another Now, and by doing this makes apparent its negative activity. Thirdly, we no doubt do not get, on[Pg 365] account of externality[421], in whose element Time is in motion, the truly subjective unity of the first point of Time with the next, to which the Now by self-effacement proceeds, but the Now remains throughout in its change always the same[422]. For for every point of Time is a Now, and is as undifferentiated from the other Now, taken as the bare point of Time, as is the abstract Ego from the object, relatively to which it annuls itself[423], and in which it falls into self-coalescence, for the reason that this object is itself merely the empty Ego. The actual Ego itself, too, belongs yet more closely to Time, with which it coalesces, in so far as it is, if we abstract from the concrete content of consciousness and self-consciousness, nothing but this empty movement which posits itself as another and then cancels the exchange, in other words cancels itself, in order thereby to conserve the Ego and here only the abstract[424] Ego therein. Ego is in Time, and Time is the being of the conscious subject itself. Inasmuch, then, as Time and not the spatial condition as such supplies the essential element, in which tone secures existence in respect to its validity as music, and the time of tone is likewise that of the conscious subject, for this reason tone, by virtue of this fundamental condition of it, penetrates into the self of conscious life, seizes hold of the same in virtue of the most simple aspect of its existence, and places the Ego in movement by means of the motion in Time and its rhythm; while in addition to this the other configuration of tones, as the expression of emotions, brings yet further a more definite material to enrich the unity of consciousness, a wealth by which it is at once affected and carried forward.

We find, then, that the fundamental ground for the elementary might of the art of music is of this nature.

(β) In order, however, that music may exercise its full effect we must have something more than the purely abstract[Pg 366] tone in its movement in Time. The further aspect we have to attach to it is a content, an emotional wealth steeped in spirit presented to the soul, and the expression, the soul of this content in tones.

We have no right, then, to entertain any exaggerated[425] opinion of the sovereign might of music simply as music, about which ancient writers, both sacred and profane, have told us so many fabulous tales. If we go back to the miracles which Orpheus performed as a pioneer of civilization we find indeed that tones and their movements spread their influence to the wild creatures, which encircled him shorn of their wildness, but they did not extend to humankind, who required the content of a nobler strain. It is something of this latter kind that we must attach to the hymns ascribed to Orpheus, which, in the form we have received from tradition, even though it be not their original one, support mythological and other ideas. In a similar way, too, the warlike songs of Tyrtaeus are famous, by means of which, so we are told, the Lacedaemonians, after long and fruitless conflicts, were stirred up to an irresistible enthusiasm and finally were wholly victorious over the Messenians. In this case, too, the content of the ideas which these elegies excited was the main thing, although pre-eminently in the case of barbaric peoples and in times of deeply moved passions we cannot deny that the musical aspect of them exercised a real force and effect. The pipes of the Highlanders contribute essentially to the animation of their courage, and the power of the Marseillaise as sung in the French Revolution is undeniable. The real source of enthusiasm is, however, to be looked for in the definite idea, in the true interest of the Spirit with which a nation is steeped, and which can be exalted to a more direct and living feeling when the notes of music, the rhythm and the melody carry along whoever may give himself up to them. In our own days, however, we can hardly hold that music is capable by itself of evoking such a courageous temper and contempt of death. Almost all armies nowadays have excellent regimental music, which calls the soldiers to their duties, releases them from such, gives life to the march and incites them to the attack. No one, however, dreams of beating the enemy with such means.[Pg 367] The courage of the field of battle does not come with the blast of trumpets and the beat of drums, and it will indeed take a host of trombones before a fort will tumble in ruin at their blast like the walls of a Jericho. It is the enthusiasm born of ideas, cannon, and the genius of generals which are the main thing now rather than music, and this can only act as a support of the forces which have already filled and taken hold of the soul.

(γ) In conclusion, we may point out in respect to the personal effect of musical sound there is an aspect which is referable to the particular manner in which the musical work of art approaches us in its distinction from other works of art. In other words, inasmuch as musical tones do not as buildings of construction, statues, and pictures possess independently a permanent objective consistency, but vanish in the act of passing by the musical work of art requires in virtue of the fact of this purely momentary existence a continuously repeated reproduction. And what is more, the necessity of such a renewal of life points to a further more profound significance. For, in so far as it is the personal soul itself, which music accepts for its content with the object, to make manifest itself not as external form and objectively subsistent product, to this extent the expression of it must also assert itself immediately in the form of a communication disclosed by a living person, in which that person reposes his entire and unique personality. This is to the fullest extent the case in the song of the human voice, but it is relatively so in all instrumental music, which can only be executed by means of a practised artist and his living and spiritual no less than technical powers as such.

It is only by virtue of this personal relation in respect to the active effect of the musical work of art that the significance of the subjective aspect of music is substantiated, which, however, too, it is possible in this direction to carry to the extreme length of isolation in the case, that is, where the personal virtuosity of the reproduction as such is made the exclusive focus and content of the enjoyment to be derived.

With the above observations I will now close what I have to say with regard to the general character of music.

[Pg 368]


We have hitherto contemplated music purely under the aspect, that its function is to embody and give life to tone as the musical expression of the personal life of soul; we have now to ask ourselves the further question, by reason of what it is both possible and necessary that tones are no purely natural outcry of emotion but the articulate artistic expression of the same. For feeling as such possesses a content; tone regarded as mere tone is without such. It must consequently first be rendered capable by means of an artistic treatment of essentially assimilating the expression of an ideal life. Speaking generally, we may establish the following conclusions on this head.

Every tone is a substantive, essentially accepted real thing, which, however, is neither articulated nor consciously apprehended in a living unity, as is the case with the animal or human form, nor from the further point of view demonstrates in itself, as a particular member of the bodily organism, or any isolated trait of the animated body, whether in its spiritual or physical aspect, that this individualization can only exist in vital association with the other limbs and traits, and secure thus its meaning, significance, and expression. Viewed according to external material, a picture no doubt consists in single strokes and colours, which can also independently exist, but the real material on the other hand, which first creates a work of art from such strokes and colours, the lines and surfaces that is to say of the form, have only a meaning when viewed as a concrete totality. The separate tone, on the contrary, is independently substantive and can also be animated up to a certain degree by means of emotion and receive a definite expression.

Conversely, however, inasmuch as tone is no purely indefinite rustle and sound, but only possesses in general musical validity by virtue of its clear definition and pure tonality, it stands immediately, by reason of this definite articulation, not merely according to its actual sound, but also its temporal duration, in a relation to other tones; nay, this relation is that which first contributes to it its real and[Pg 369] actual definition and along with this its difference and contrast as opposed to other tones or its unity with such.

In presence of the more relative self-subsistency this relation, however, remains as something external to the tones, so that the relations into which they are brought do not appertain to the single tones under the mode of their notion, as we find such in the members of the animal and human organism, or also in the forms of natural landscape. The coalescence of different tones in different relations is consequently something which albeit not contradictory to the essence of tone, is, however, in the first instance artificial, and not otherwise presented in Nature. Such a relation proceeds to that extent from a third party and only exists for such, namely, for the person who apprehends[426] it.

On account of this externality of the relation the definition of tones and their co-ordination subsist in the relation of quantity, in relations of number, which of course have their foundation in the nature of tone itself, yet are employed by music in a system which is, in the first instance, discovered by Art and modified[427] in the most varied manner.

From this point of view it is not essential vitality, regarded as organic unity, which constitutes the foundation of music, but equality, inequality, etc., and generally the form of the understanding[428], as it is asserted in quantitative relations. If we consequently speak definitely of musical tones we indicate the same purely by numerical relations as also by letters selected at will by virtue of which we are accustomed to indicate the tones according to such relations.

In such a reference back to mere quantities and their intelligible, external definition music possesses its most pronounced affinity with architecture, inasmuch as it, just as this latter art does, builds up its inventions upon the secure basis and scheme of proportions, a basis which does not[Pg 370] essentially expand and coalesce through vital unity in an organically free articulation, in which the remaining differentiated parts are given with the one aspect of definition, but only begins to grow into free art in the further elaborations, which are enabled by it to arise out of the aforesaid conditions.

Although architecture carries the process of liberation no further than a harmony of forms and the characteristic animation of a mysterious eurhythmy, music, on the contrary, for the reason that it has for its content the most intimate, personal, and free life and essence of the soul, strides into and emphasizes the profoundest opposition that exists between this free life of soul and those quantitative relations on which it is based. It is, however, unable to persist in this opposition; rather it is its difficult function to overcome it as essentially as it accepts it, by assigning to the free movements of the soul, which it expresses, a more secure foundation and basis by means of these necessary proportions, a basis on which it then, however, gives movement to and develops the inner life in the freedom which for the first time receives its fulness of content by virtue of such fundamental necessity[429].

In this respect there are in the first instance two aspects of tone we should distinguish, according to which it is artistically to be employed. First, we have the abstract foundation, the universal but not as yet physically specified element, that is, Time, in the domain of which tone falls. After that we get sound itself, the real distinction of tones, not merely according to aspects referable to the difference of the sensuous material, which sounds, but also in that aspect of the tones themselves as they are related to one another, whether in their singularity or as a whole. To such we must then adjoin thirdly, the soul, which gives animation to the tones, rounds them off in a free totality, and gives to them a spiritual expression in their temporal movement and their real sound. By virtue of these aspects we receive for their more definite classification a series of stages as follows.

First, we have to occupy our attention with the purely temporal duration and movement, which it is the function of art not merely to leave to chance in their arrangement,[Pg 371] but to determine according to definite measures, and to render various by virtue of their differences, and once more again to establish their unity in these distinctions. From this we deduce the necessity for time-measure, beat, and rhythm.

Secondly, however, music has not merely to deal with abstract time and the relations of longer or shorter duration, musical phrase and so forth, but with the concrete time of their sound according to definite tones, which consequently are not merely distinct from one another according to their duration. This difference reposes, in the first place, on the specific quality of their sensuous material, by reason of whose oscillations the tone is produced; on the other hand it depends on the different number of such oscillations, in which the resonant bodies oscillate in an equal measure of time. And furthermore these differences assert themselves as essential aspects for the relation of tones in their concord, opposition, and mediation. We may give this portion of our subject the general designation of the theory of harmony.

Thirdly, and finally, it is the melody, by virtue of which on these foundations of a beat characterized by rhythmical vitality and of distinctions and movements of harmony itself that the realm of tones is unitedly discharged in a spiritually free mode of expression, and conducts us thereby to the final main section of our subject, which will undertake to consider music in its concrete unity with the spiritual content it is intended to express in beat, harmony, and rhythm.

(a) Time-measure, Beat, Rhythm

So far as in the first place the purely temporal aspect of musical tone is concerned, we have first to discuss the necessity, which generally in musical time is the dominant factor. Secondly, we shall consider beat under the aspect of time-measure wholly regulated under scientific rule. Thirdly, we shall treat of the rhythm, under which a start is made in animating this abstract rule by the prominence or subordination it attains to definite divisions of time.

(α) The figures of sculpture and painting are placed side by side in space and present the extension of reality in[Pg 372] actual or apparent totality. Music, however, can only place before us tones in so far as it makes a body under the spatial condition tremble, setting the same in an oscillating motion. These oscillations only affect art under the aspect, that they follow one another; and for this reason the sensuous material generally only enters into music with the temporal duration of its movement instead of taking with it its spatial form. No doubt that motion of a body is always present in space, so that painting and sculpture have the right to exhibit the appearance of movement, albeit their figures are in their reality at rest. In respect to this aspect of Space, however, music does not accept movement, and there remains consequently as part of its configuration only the time, into which the oscillation of the body falls.

(αα) Time, however, in consequence of what we have already above considered, is not as Space is, the positive condition of juxtaposition, but on the contrary negative externality. As juxtaposition, which is cancelled, it is the point of passage, and as negative activity it is the abrogation of this point of time in another, which is itself immediately cancelled, and becomes another and so on continuously. In the continuous series of these points of time every single tone not merely is asserted independently as single, but is brought from a further point of view into quantitative association with other tones, by which process Time is referable to number. Conversely, however, for the reason that time is the unbroken rise and passage of such points of time, which, regarded as mere points of time, possess in this unparticularized abstraction no distinction one to another, for this reason to a like extent time appears as the equable stream, and the duration essentially undifferentiated.

(ββ) In this indeterminacy, however, music is unable to leave time. Rather it is compelled to define it more narrowly, to give it a measure, and regulate its stream according to the rules of such a measure. By virtue of this regular treatment we get the time-measure of tones. And here at once arises the question, wherefore then once and for all music requires such measure. The necessity of definite periods of time may be evolved from this fact, that time stands in the closest affinity with, the self in its simplicity, which apprehends, and has a right to apprehend, its inward[Pg 373] life through the medium of tones; time, in fact, regarded as externality, essentially possesses the same principle, which is active in the Ego as the abstract foundation of all that pertains to the soul and spirit. If, then, it is the simple self, which as soul-life has to be made objective in music, so, too, the universal medium of this objectivity must be treated conformably to the principle of that subjective life. The Ego, however, is not the indefinite continuance and the unbroken[430] duration, but is only self-identity when we regard it as an aggregate and a return upon itself[431]. The assertion of itself, wherein it becomes object, is doubled back in the being thus self-for-itself; and it is only through this relation to itself that it becomes self-feeling, self-consciousness and so forth. In this aggregate, however, we find essentially a breaking off of the purely indefinite change, such as we held time to be in the first instance, in which the rise and suppression, the disappearance and renewal of the points of time were nothing but a wholly formal passage from every now to another present of similar character, and consequently nothing but an uninterrupted progression. In contrast to this empty process the self is that which itself persists by itself, the totality whereof essentially breaks up the undefined series of time points, creates an infraction into the abstract continuity, freeing the Ego, which recollects itself in this process of discrete division and finds itself again therein, from what is a purely external process of change.

(γγ) The duration of a tone does not, agreeably to this principle, pass away in a process of relative indeterminacy, but emphasizes with its beginning and end, which accordingly is a definite beginning and cessation, the series of the time moments, which, apart from it, are not thus distinguishable. If, however[432], many tones follow one after another, and[Pg 374] every one of them receives a duration which can be separately distinguished from each other, then we must assume that instead of having that original indefinite series devoid of content, we only once more get by a converse process the fortuitous, and, along with this to a like extent, the indefinite variety of particular quantities. This unregulated rambling about contradicts quite as much the unity of the Ego as the abstract progress forward; and it can only find itself reflected and satisfied in such a varied mode of definition in so far as single quantities are brought under one unifying principle, which for the reason that it subsumes the particular parts under its synthetic embrace, must itself be a definite unity, yet in the first instance as merely an identity of external application can only persist as one of an external type.

(β) And this carries us to the further principle of co-ordination which we find in the time-beat.

(αα) The first thing to be considered here consists in this, that, as stated, distinct divisions of time are united in a unity, in which the Ego independently creates its identity with itself. Inasmuch as the Ego in the first instance only supplies the foundation as abstract self this equability, in respect to the advance of time and its tones, can only assert itself as operative under the mode of a uniformity that is itself abstract, that is to say as the uniform repetition of the same unity of time. Agreeably to the same principle the beat according to its simple definition can only consist in this, that it establishes a definite unity of time as measure and rule not merely for the deliberate[433] breaking up of the time-series held previously without such distinction, but also for the equally capricious duration of single tones, which are now apprehended together under a definite bond of union, and that it permits this measure of time to be continuously renewed in abstract uniformity. In this respect time-beat possesses the same function as the principle of symmetry in architecture, as, for instance, when this places side by side columns of similar height and thickness at intervals of equal distance, or co-ordinates a row of windows, which possess a definite size, under the principle of equality. We find present[Pg 375] in this case, too, an assured distinction of parts and a repetition in every way complete. In this uniformity self-consciousness discovers itself once more as unity, in so far as it in part recognizes its own equality in the co-ordination of a fortuitous variety; partly, too, in the return of the same unity, it is recalled to the fact that it has already been there, and precisely by means of its return asserts itself as the prevailing principle[434]. The satisfaction, however, which the Ego receives through the time-beat in this rediscovery of itself is all the more complete because the unity and regularity do neither apply to time or tones as such, but are something which is wholly appertinent to the Ego, and is carried into the time relation by the same as a means of self-satisfaction. We do not find this abstract identity in what is wholly of Nature. Even the heavenly bodies retain no regular time-measure[435] in their motions, but accelerate or retard their course, so that they do not pass over equal spaces in identical periods of time. The same thing may be said of falling bodies, with the motion of projectiles, etc., and we may add that animal life to a still less degree regulates its running, springing, and seizing of objects on the principle of an exact recurrence of one definite time-measure. In this respect the time-measure of living things proceeds far more completely from spiritual initiative than the regular definitions of size applicable to architecture for which we may more readily discover analogies in Nature.

(ββ) If, however, the Ego is to return upon itself by means of the time-beat by thus appropriating throughout an identity which it itself is and which proceeds from itself, we imply in this, in order that the distinct unity may be felt as a principle, that in a similar degree what is presented to it should be that which is unregulated and not uniform. It is in short only through the fact that the definite beat of the measure prevails over and co-ordinates what is capriciously unequal, that it asserts itself as unity and regulating principle of a fortuitous variety. It must consequently appropriate the same within itself, and suffer uniformity to appear in that which is not so. This it is which first gives to the time-beat[Pg 376] its specific and essential definition to be asserted too in contrast to other measurements of time, which can be repeated relatively to the same principle.

(γγ) By reason of this the multiplicity which is enclosed in a given time-measure possesses its definite standard according to which it is divided and co-ordinated. From this we arrive, in the third place, at distinct kinds of time-measure. The first thing of importance to notice in this connection is the division of time according to either an even or an uneven number of equally divided parts. Of the first kind we have, for example, the two-four and the four-four time. In these even number is predominant. Of the opposite kind is the three-four time, in which the co-ordinate divisions constitute a unity of equal parts, of course, but in a number that is uneven. Both types are to be found united in six-eight time, to take an example, which no doubt numerically appears to be similar to the four-four time, but as a fact, however, does not fall into three but into two divisions, of which, however, the one no less than the other, relatively to its closer aspect of division, accepts three, that is an uneven number, as its principle.

A particularization of this kind constitutes the constantly repeated principle of every particular measure of time. However much notwithstanding the definite time-measure is bound to control the variety of the time-duration and its longer or shorter sections, we must not therefore extend its effective power to the length that it places this variety in subjection in a wholly abstract way, that in short, for example, in the four-four measure only four notes of equal length as fourths can appear, in the three-four time only three, and so forth. The regularity restricts itself to this, that as, for instance, in the four-four time the sum of the separate notes are only equal to four equal parts, which may not only be divided into eighths and sixteenths, but conversely may again contract into less divisions, and indeed are capable moreover of more diffuse division.

(γ) The further, however, this elastic mode of differentiation is carried the more necessary it is that the essential divisions of the time should be asserted as predominant and also should be indicated in an effective way as an illustration of the fundamental principle of their co-ordination. This is[Pg 377] carried out by the rhythm, which first gives vital significance to time-measure and the beat. With respect to this vitalization[436] we may distinguish the following points.

(αα) In the first place we have accent, which to a greater or less degree attaches in an audible way to definite divisions of time, while others pass by on the other hand without an accent. By virtue of such emphasis, or lack of emphasis, which is itself of various kinds, every particular measure of time possesses its particular rhythm, which is placed in exact association with the specific mode of division to which its rhythm applies. The four-four time, for instance, in which an even number is the principle of division, has a twofold arsis; on the other hand there is that on the first note or fourth division, and then, though in weaker power, on the third. The first is called on account of its stronger accentuation, the strong accent, the second in contrast to it the weak one. In the three-four time the accent rests entirely on the first fourth, in six-eight time on the contrary it is on the first of the eight divisions and the fourth, so that in this case the twofold accent asserts a division of equal length in two halves.

(ββ) In so far as music is an accompaniment rhythm is brought into essential relation with poetry. In the most general way I will on this merely venture the observation that the accents of the musical beat ought not to directly contradict those of the metre. If, for example, one of the unaccentuated syllables, relatively to the rhythm of the verse, is placed in a strong accent of the beat, while the arsis, or it may be the caesura, falls in one of the weak accents of the music, then we get a false opposition between the rhythm of the poetry and that of the music which it is better to avoid. We may affirm the same thing with regard to the long and short syllables. These also ought in general to fall into harmony with the duration of the tones, so that the longer syllables are coincident with the longer notes, the shorter with the shorter, albeit this accordance is not to be pressed with absolute precision, inasmuch as music is frequently permitted greater play for the duration of its long notes, no less than for the exuberant subdivision of the same.

(γγ) In the third place we may at once in anticipation[Pg 378] observe that we have to distinguish the animated rhythm of melody from the abstractly considered and severely regular return of the beat rhythm. In this respect music possesses a similar and, in fact, yet greater freedom than poetry. In poetry the beginning and termination of words[437] need not necessarily coincide with the beginning and end of the verse feet; rather a thoroughgoing coincidence of this nature gives us a verse that halts and is without caesura. And, furthermore, the beginning and ending of the sentences and periods ought not throughout to mark the beginning and conclusion of a verse. On the contrary, a period will terminate more satisfactorily in the beginning or even in the middle and near the last feet of the verse. From which point we begin with a new one which carries the first verse into the one that follows. The same thing holds good in the case of music relatively to its time-beat and rhythm. The melody and its different phrases[438] need not absolutely commence with the fall of a beat and close with the conclusion of another: such may in a general way move freely to this extent that the main-arsis of the melody may be incident to that portion of a musical beat, on which, relatively to its ordinary rhythm, no such emphasis applies; whereas, conversely, a tone, which in the natural process of the melody would necessarily receive no accentuated prominence, may quite conceivably be placed in the strong accent of the time-measure, which requires an arsis, so that consequently such a tone, relatively to the time-rhythm, has a different effect from that which the same tone claims to assert as distinct from that rhythm and purely in the melody. This opposition, however, asserts itself most strongly in so-called syncopations. If, on the other hand, the melody absolutely adheres in its rhythms and divisions to the time rhythm it tends to drag, and lacks warmth and invention. In short, what is required is a freedom from the pedantry of metre and the barbarism of a uniform rhythm. A deficiency in more free movement readily increases the limpness and sluggishness to the point of actual gloom and depression; and in this way, too, many of our popular melodies possess aspects of mournfulness, drag and burden, in so far[Pg 379] as the soul merely possesses a means of advance as its expression more monotonous than itself, and in virtue of such is constrained to consign to it also the doleful emotions of a broken heart. The speech of Southern peoples, on the other hand, more especially the Italian, offers a rich field for a rhythm and flow of melody which is more notable for its variety and movement. And it is precisely here that we mark an essential distinction between German and Italian music. The uniform coldness of the Iambic mode of scansion, which recurs in so many German songs, kills the free and jubilant impulse of the melody, and restrains any further rise and devolution[439]. In more recent times Reichard and others, owing to this very fact that they have said good-bye to this iambic drone, have imported into their lyrical compositions a new and rhythmical life, although we still find traces of the former type in some of their songs. However, we do not only mark the influence of the iambic rhythm in songs, but also in many of our most important musical compositions. Even in the Messiah of Handel the composition does not only in many arias and choruses follow the meaning of the words with declamatory truth, but also adheres to the fall of the iambic rhythm, partly in the distinction simply that it makes between its long and short duration, partly in the fact that the protraction of the iambic rhythm requires a more elevated tone than the corresponding short syllable in the metre. I have no doubt this is one of the characteristic features of Handelian music, owing to which we Germans feel so much at home with the same, quite apart from its excellences in other respects, its majestic swing, its victorious onward movement, the wealth it discloses of profoundly religious no less than more simple idyllic emotions. This rhythmical substance of the melody comes more directly to our sense of hearing than that of the Italians, who are inclined to find in it a want of freedom, as something, too, that strikes the ear as strange and alien.

(β) Harmony

The further aspect, in virtue of which alone the abstract basis of time-beat and rhythm receives its fulfilment, and[Pg 380] thereby is enabled to become actually concrete music is the kingdom of tones regarded as such. This more essential domain of music is dominated by the laws of harmony. We have here a further elementary fact to deal with. In other words, a material substance[440] does not only through its oscillation for art emerge from the mere visible reproduction of its spatial form, and is carried further into the elaboration of its configuration in Time[441], but it produces distinct sounds according to its particular physical constitution no less than its different length and brevity and number of vibrations through which it passes in a given period of time, and consequently in this respect, too, Art is compelled to take account of it and give it form agreeably to its own nature.

With regard, then, to this second element we have to emphasize with more accuracy three main points.

The first one presented to our consideration is the difference between the various instruments, whose invention and elaboration has been found essential to create that totality of musical sound, which in respect to musical sound constitutes a sphere of different tones independently of all distinction of the relation of pitch whether it be a high or a low one.

Secondly, however, musical tone is, quite apart from the different peculiarities of either instruments or the human voice, itself an articulated totality of different tones, tone-series, and scales, which in the first instance repose on quantitative relations, and in the determination of these relations are tones which it is the function of every instrument and the human voice, according to its specific quality, to produce in less or greater completeness.

Thirdly, music neither consists in single intervals nor in purely abstract series of tones, that is, keys unrelated to each other, but is a concrete interfusion of opposed or mediating sound, which necessitates a forward progression and a passage from one point to another. This juxtaposition and change does not depend on mere contingency and caprice, but is subject to definite rules, which constitute the necessary foundation of all true music.

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