Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/770

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of a similar kind, only ruder and more childish in their realism than those of Egypt. The wooden doll was made as lifelike as possible by being dressed up in real clothes with a wig of hair, and with accessories or arms in actual metalwork and jewelry. These realistic images were highly honored from a religious point of view, like the bambino of the church of Ara Cœli, in Rome, at the present day, and were undoubtedly copied from a living effigy in the festival, as this bambino is now carried in the ceremonial processions at its annual féte. Still further light is thrown upon the subject by the religious symbolism of colors among widely separated peoples. Among the Chaldeans, the planetary gods were all symbolized by colors, yellow standing for the sun; black, for the moon; red, for the planet Mars; pale yellow, for Venus; and blue, for Mercury. So, among the Indians, green is ascribed to Venus, purple to Jupiter, and black to Saturn. All this finds its easy explanation in the color given to the representative of the god in the festal dance.

If, now, we have established our thesis, it appears that the fine arts are only the various modes of expressing the strong feelings awakened by religion and other potent stimuli of the imagination finding utterance under the social conditions of the time, and giving form in material sign and symbol to otherwise incommunicable sentiments. An analytical and philosophizing age is not particularly favorable to the production of the fine arts. They thrive best among an impressible, imaginative, spectacle-loving people. All history is a witness of this. The art of Egypt is the record of its religious rites and ceremonies, its military triumphs, and its royal processions. The same is true to a great extent of the art of Greece. The most of its sculpture is copied from figures seen in the dance, represented in the great festal games, or in the religious celebrations of the people. The marbles once in the frieze of the Parthenon, many of which were taken to England by Lord Elgin and placed in the British Museum—known as the "Elgin Marbles"—are copies from the Panathenaic festival as a spectator might have beheld it when all Athens contributed to its magnificence. The Italian rappresentazioni, most splendid at Florence, gave inspiration to the great painters of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. As these spectacles increased in beauty and artistic excellence, so did the paintings copied from them, for here the painter found his living models, already works of art in personal beauty and costume. The artists actually took both their themes and characters from these pageants. The "miracle-plays" and "mysteries," their equivalents north of the Alps, were less impressive, but these also kindled the flame of art and almost created the northern painter. There was also in Italy the trionfo, or procession of masked and costumed mummers, representing