Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/769

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
697*
PROFESSIONAL INSTITUTIONS.

PROFESSIONAL INSTITUTIONS.
XI.—PAINTER.
By HERBERT SPENCER.

PICTORIAL representation in its rudest forms not only precedes civilization but may be traced back to prehistoric man. The delineations of animals by incised lines on bones, discovered in the Dordogne and elsewhere, prove this. And certain wall-paintings found in caves variously distributed, show, in extant savage races or ancestors of them, some ability to represent things by lines and colors.

But if we pass over these stray facts, which lie out of relation to the development of pictorial art during civilization, and if we start with those beginnings of pictorial art which the uncivilized transmitted to the early civilized, we see that sculpture and painting were coeval. For, excluding as not pictorial that painting of the body by which savages try to make themselves feared or admired, we find painting first employed in completing the image of the dead man to be placed on his grave—a painting of the carved image such as served to make it a rude simulacrum. This was the first step in the evolution of painted figures of apotheosized chiefs and kings—painted statues of heroes and gods.

We shall the better appreciate this truth on remembering that the complete differentiation of sculpture from painting which now exists did not exist among early peoples. In ancient times all statues were colored: the aim being to produce something as like as possible to the being commemorated.

The already named images of dead New Zealand chiefs tattooed in imitation of their originals, illustrate primitive attempts to finish the representations of departed persons by surface-markings and colors; and the idols preserved in our museums—not painted only but with imitation eyes and teeth inserted—make clear this original union of the two arts.

Of evidence that the priests painted as well as carved these effigies, little is furnished by travelers. Bourke writes of the Apaches:—"All charms, idols, talismans, medicine hats, and other sacred regalia should be made, or at least blessed, by the medicine-men." But while the agency of the primitive priest in idol-painting must remain but partially proved, we get clear proof of priestly agency in the production of other colored representations of religious kinds. Describing certain pictographs in sand, Mr. Gushing says:—

"When, during my first sojourn with the Zuñi, I found this art practice in vogue among the tribal priest-magicians and members of cult societies, I