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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/94

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62
Part II.
HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE.

signboard in Constantinople or Canton, it is always the same—the same brilliancy and harmony produced by the simplest means.

In sculpture they were not so fortunate. Having no explanatory literature to which to refer, it was necessary that their statues should tell their whole tale themselves; and sculpture does not lend itself to this so readily as painting. With them it is not sufficient that a god should be colossal, he must be symbolical; he must have more arms and legs or more heads than common men; he must have wings and attributes of power, or must combine the strength of a lion or a bull with the intellect of humanity. The statue must, in short, tell the whole story itself; and where this is attempted the result can only be pleasing to the narrow faith of the unreflecting devotee. So far from being able to express more than humanity, sculpture must attempt even less if it would be successful; but this of course rendered it useless for the purposes to which the Turanians wished to apply it.

The same remarks apply to painting, properly so called. This never can attain its highest developement except when it is the exponent of phonetic utterances. In Greek the painter strove only to give form and substance to the more purely intellectual creation of the poet, and could consequently dispense with all but the highest elements of his art. In Egypt the picture was all in all; it had no text to refer to, and must tell the whole tale with all its adjuncts, in simple intelligible prose, or be illegible, and the consequence is that the story is told with a clearness that charms us even now. It is, however, only a story; and, like everything else Turanian, however great or wonderful, its greatness and its wonder are of a lower class and less intellectual than the utterances of the other great divisions of the human family.

We have scarcely the means of knowing whether any Turanian race ever successfully cultivated music to any extent. It is more than probable that all their families can and always could appreciate the harmony of musical intervals, and might be charmed with simple cadences; but it is nearly certain that a people who did not possess phonetic poetry could never rise to that higher class of music which is now carried to such a pitch of perfection, that harmonic combinations almost supply the place of phonetic expression and influence the feelings and passions to almost the same extent.

There is also this further peculiarity about their arts, that they seem ahvays more instinctive than intellectual, and consequently are incapable of that progress which distinguishes most of the works of man. At the first dawn of art in Egypt, in the age of the Pyramid builders, all the arts were as perfect and as complete as they were when the country fell under the domination of the Romans. The earliest works in China are as perfect—in some respects more so—as those of to-day; and in Mexico, so soon as a race of red savages