Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/850

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
826
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

line of the nose is more or less perfectly the prolongation of the line of the forehead. The hollow at the root of the nose is almost effaced, and the prominence of the nose is softened. The absolute Grecian profile would therefore be represented in a drawing by a single continuous line for the forehead and nose. Yet another condition is essential for obtaining the fine Grecian profile. The forehead should not be receding. This marks the distinction between the Grecian and the Egyptian profile. The artists who lived under the Theban dynasties represented the human profile by a single line for the forehead and nose; but the line was oblique, making the nose prominent and the forehead retreating. They simply exaggerated a race characteristic—as may be shown by examining the mummies or the fellahs of the present time.

Several theories have been offered to account for the Grecian type of profile. Its existence in the Hellenic race has been denied. The few Grecian skulls in our possession present it very rarely, but some of them incontestably approach it. It may have been more common in the aristocratic caste. We must certainly acknowledge that it was not common, but it does not follow that it did not exist. It may still be found, though not very often, at Aries and Marseilles; and I have perceived it in some profile photographs of Greeks of Asia Minor in the collection of the Société de Géographie of Paris. It has been suggested that the Grecian profile was hieratic, borrowed from the Egyptians, improved upon and transformed. It is true that the archaic Grecian sculptures, as at Mycenæ, display a profile with salient nose and retreating forehead, and that the type was persistent on many funeral vases. Grecian art may have imitated Egyptian in its beginnings, although it is believed now that the imitation did not play a very preponderant part in the matter. But when, at a later period, the artists created the special profile of their statues, they could not have been guided by reasoning alone. This would be opposed to all the observations on the subject made by other people. They may have designed it, but to do so they had to start from visual perceptions. A third supposition is that the artists exaggerated a type which they had opportunities of observing among their countrymen, especially in the aristocratic and literary classes. An examination of the ancient statues will throw light on this point. In studying the pictures of the great men of Greece reproduced in the Iconographie Grecque of Visconti, it will be remarked that a large number of them resemble the ideal type copied in the statues of the gods. In order to proceed with mathematical exactness we have measured the angle, the apex of which is the root of the nose and the sides a line drawn from that point tangent to the forehead (disregarding the projection of the sinus) and the prolongation of the line of the nose. We have ap-