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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/363

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ÆSTHETIC EVOLUTION IN MAN.

Herbert Spencer in his "Ceremonial Institutions" that I need not dwell upon them further here. But a few words as to later and more developed stages may not be out of place. Architecture is the central royal art, and its first object is to "beautify the house of the king." Beginning with the regal hut, it goes on to the frail and gilded palaces of China and Burmah, the house of cedar which King Solomon builded, the vast piles of brick erected by Assyrians and Babylonians in the alluvial valley of the Euphrates, the solid granite colonnades of Thebes and Memphis, the huge marble domes of Agra and Delhi, the stucco monstrosities of Mohammedan Lucknow. Sculpture first grows up as the handmaid of architecture, and begins its modern form with the bas-reliefs of Egypt and Assyria, or the rock-hewn colossi of Elephanta. We still see the conjunction between royalty and these two sister arts in the beautiful Renaissance façade of the Louvre and the tasteless gilding of the Albert Memorial. Beside the ancient Nile or in the courtyards of Nineveh, we find the subjects ever the same—the king conquering his enemies; the king hunting and slaying a lion; the king driving a herd of naked captives to his capital city. Thus the aggrandizement of royalty becomes at the same time the opportunity for the exercise and development of plastic skill, while it affords models of the beautiful in art for the admiration and the æsthetic education of the subject throng.

Similarly with painting. Beginning with the rude decoration of the savage cloak and girdle, it advances to the smearing and gilding of the royal hut. Thence it progresses to the brilliant coloration of Egyptian columns and frescoes, and to all the Memphian wealth of blue, green, crimson, and gold with which so many modern restorations have made us familiar. In India, debarred from imitation by Moslem restrictions, it produces the exquisite decoration of the Taj and the Delhi palaces: in western Islam, it gives us the gorgeous Moresque tracery of the Alhambra. In its regular European development, becoming mainly ecclesiastical during the early middle ages, it reasserts its original governmental connection in the palaces of Florence and Venice, in the Vatican, in the Louvre and the Luxembourg, in Whitehall and Hampton Court, in Dresden and Munich, in modern Berlin and St. Petersburg. Sèvres and Gobelins were originally royal factories: Giotto, Michael Angelo, Raphael, Holbein, Rubens, Vandyke, all produced their masterpieces for popes or kings—Leo X, Henri IV, Charles I. Conversely, American artists have often noted the chilling effect of the want of a court upon the aesthetic susceptibilities and creativeness of their countrymen generally. Europe has, on the whole, purchased its art at the hard price of its long apprenticeship to despotism. In India, native art has steadily died out with the gradual extinction of the native courts. In Hellas and Italy it happily survived royalty because pressed into the double service of religion and of the sovereign people in its corporate capacity. What the