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Axuat pôvéywy páos cerynóv. ONOMACR. Hymn. v. ver. 8.
û evtos vuxn. - PLUTARCH. Rom. Quæst. 72.
As these disquisitions were not originally intended for the public eye, the writer, several years ago, was induced to limit an impression of them to a small number of copies, that he might have the pleasure of placing them in the hands of a learned few, for whom he entertained a particular affection or respect, and whom he knew to be conversant with, or interested in, the subject of his enquiry. While the book was confined to this circle, he felt the less pain when he subsequently discovered its many imperfections, but he soon found with considerable regret, that by this attempt at privacy, he had unintentionally stamped a price upon it that was greatly beyond its merits. He has long wished to correct this unfair estimate of its value; and as many new discoveries (if he may dare to term them such) have presented themselves in the course of his further reading and reflection, he now lays his disquisitions before the public, revised, and somewhat enlarged ; aware, however, that, in adding to the contents of his work, he will have increased the occasion he had for the reader's indulgence.
He apprehends that few, since the time of D'Hancarville, have been disposed to regard the embellishments of these vases as fair specimens of the art of painting among the Greeks. Nevertheless, he will venture to repeat on this occasion, an observation with which he had prefaced the former impression of his work, as an answer to any who may still be found to advocate this opinion.
In this work he has advanced an original supposition, and as he conceives upon very sufficient grounds, that the paintings upon the Greek vases were copied from transparencies. Should this be denied, it will nevertheless be evident, that D’Hancarville was not justified in reasoning upon the art from the paintings upon Greek vases ; for we must admit, that unless better specimens existed at the same early times, upon wood, or canvas, or in fresco, the art of painting in Greece was very far behind that of sculpture, and by no means entitled to high encomium, which would involve a contradiction to many high authorities, and it would follow, that the Greek painters were very deficient in composition* and colouring, at the same time that we acknowledge they excelled in character and design.† If, on the other hand, it be credible, that very skilful Greek artists were engaged in the
* Either the ground or the figures in these paintings being illumined, it became necessary that the latter should be detached as much as possible from each other, to prevent confusion. Hence the difficulty of grouping, otherwise than by placing the figures upon different elevations in the picture. A most valuable amphora, formerly in the possession of William Chinnery, and now in that of Thomas Hope, Esq. is a notable instance. This vase is well known from the subject of the painting, usually termed the death of Patroclus. It presents a complicated group of figures designed with great spirit. These are placed, not on the same plane, but on three tiers or stages, in defiance of the rules of perspective.
+ This excellence may be particularly instanced in a lettered Campana vase of the late James Edwards, Esq., the subject of which is the mysterious descent of Theseus accompanied by Castor and Tydeus, to bring back Actæon from the shades. It is well known to the virtuosi in this country.
service of religion, to copy scenes from the temple at Eleusis, and that those who executed them were on some occasions proud of their work appears from their names being inscribed upon them*, we shall be left to regret, that those who so employed their pencils could never rise to a higher title than that of Exiæygá@os, or shadow painters; for the nature of the subjects they had to imitate necessarily limited their powers.
The credit, however, of the Greek painters has been vindicated by several writers, particularly by the ingenious Mr. Webbe. His evidences tend to prove that, except at least as to mixed compositions, the Greeks had attained a high degree of excellence in every department of the art. However this may really have been, the writer of this tract feels inclined to discourage any further attempts, either to ascertain the progress of the art, or the perfection of it at any particular period, by such imperfect documents as the Greek vases afford; and he trusts the reasonableness of his conjectures respecting their use will justify his dissent froin the opinions of D’Hancarville on this head.
That the paintings upon these Vases have an allegorical reference to the doctrines of the mysteries, is an opinion that has been very tardily admitted by the learned on the Continent. antiquary of superior intelligence, the Čav. Inghirami, with whose work the writer has become acquainted only since he completed the revision of his book for the press, (and the perusal of that work
Thus, upon a vase in the collection of Thomas Hope, Esq. is inscribed TALETAES ETOIESEN. This vase was found at Agrigentum, and is of very early manufacture.