|WHAT MASTERPIECES OF GREEK SCULPTURE WERE KNOWN TO THE MEN OF THE RENAISSANCE?|
U. S MILITARY ACADEMY
SOME popular writers on the Renaissance give, and seek to give, the impression that the sculpture known to the Renaissance was pure, high Greek, and that these masterpieces set all Italy astir. Scholars know better, but most of us are not scholars.
All my life I have been bullied by statements of the sort, and at last the worm has turned and has consulted the scholars, as it should have done long ago. The following paragraphs will seem of very slight importance to the few students who know, but they may have some interest to others. If I—no scholar—knew where the data which I have here tabulated could be found collected, such paragraphs might well be quoted. But I do not know, and many others are probably as ignorant as I. It is for them and myself that I am writing, making every apology to the real scholars; and in partial excuse, asking them why I have not been able to find such tables as I here give in some handbook or manual.
Here follow a few quotations from writers on the fine arts of the Renaissance. All of them give the scholar's point of view. For brevity, I have sometimes ventured to summarize them.
Whatever may be the facts of to-day, the eye of Europe in the middle ages was not accustomed to Greco-Roman forms in art. In Spain, France, Germany or Britain, the Roman ruins were even then so rare... that any knowledge of them... was out of question. In Italy, Roman ruins were no rarity, and in Rome they were abundant, but the idea of copying them never suggested itself to an Italian of the middle age. That antiquarian and historic interest in relics of the past, which is so natural to us, is an interest which dates from the Renaissance. To the middle age the ruin was a quarry; nothing more.
How the interest in the literature of the ancients brought about a revival in the arts—architecture, painting, sculpture—need not be recited here. The story has been told a thousand times. One point may be emphasized, perhaps. The share of science in the revival has not been sufficiently recognized by most writers on the period. The name of Copernicus, for instance, is not mentioned in the index of any
- Goodyear, "Renaissance in Modern Art," p. 49.