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rus, as well as many other eminent Grecians, were indebted to the celebrated schools of that country, for their proficiency in science, jurisprudence, and mythology.* It may, therefore, be presumed, that the architecture of the Greeks was adopted and improved from the same source; and although no exact examples can be discovered in the columns of the Egyptian temples, of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders, still there is perceived a sufficient general resemblance to warrant the conclusion. This is obvious from an examination of the very perfect delineations in the splendid volumes on the Antiquities of Egypt, which were published during the reign of Napoleon, under the direction of the members of the Institute, who accompanied him in his expedition to that country, and in the works of Belzoni, Champollion, and those of other recent travelers.
One of the causes which has had the greatest influence in retarding the adoption of the Grecian orders, has been the unfortunate attempt to apply them to all kinds of structures, both of a public and private character, when they should have been confined to those purposes only for which they were the most appropriate. Besides, in the experiments which have been made, to render their adoption universally subservient to all classes of edifices, and in every possible variety of location, not only the principles on which they are founded have been grossly violated, but such unwarrantable deviations made, as to obliterate or distort many of their peculiar and most beautiful features, and thus so degrade the characteristic elements of the matchless prototypes, as to render the results as despicable, as the effort was inconsiderate and presumptuous.
Hitherto only two styles had prevailed—that of the Italian school and the Gothic; and as professional architects had been instructed to consider them as the only rivals for precedence, while the most distinguished partisans of each had acquired their reputations as artists, by the projection and construction of edifices in conformity to the favorite system which they may have severally adopted, it was not astonishing that many of them adhered, with obstinate pertinacity, to the theories and precedents, by which they had been guided, and which had been sanctioned by public opinion throughout Europe.
When, therefore, a third style was presented, with claims of precedence paramount to those which had so long been considered as the standards of perfection, time was required for a thorough investigation of its merits, and a just appreciation of the principles and
• Diodorus states, in his 1st Book, chap. 36, that the Priests of Egypt exhibited in their annals, the names of the above, and several other distinguished men, who had travelled, or resided in Egypt, and that their portraits, works, or some other memorial of their visit, were to be seen.
elements on which it was established. At last there were cheering indications in England, France, Germany, Prussia, Russia, and this country, of that decided preference which Grecian architecture so eminently merited, for many important purposes; but Russia has been the earliest to evince such an exalted comprehension of its intrinsic superiority, as to practically illustrate the three orders with a fidelity and magnificence worthy the sovereign of that mighty empire.
The Grecian, Egyptian, Gothic, and Italian systems of architecture having been very generally introduced in Europe and this country, and each of them having been entitled to great considera. tion, on account of its peculiar appropriateness for a specific purpose, they will doubtless be continued for ages; therefore, the main question now to be settled is, the class of structures to which they should be exclusively confined, and not that of the precedence which should be given to any one of them over all the others. But, unfortunately, discussions upon this subject have been most commonly conducted by the zealous advocates of each, upon the latter hypothesis, instead of magnanimously attempting to define the specific purposes to which they should severally be appropriated, which must depend entirely upon the uses to which the edifices are to be applied, and their location.
The Gothic architecture can only be employed in the construction of sacred edifices, and even then, they must be of immense dimensions, like the noble cathedral of York, for the surfaces are so broken and diversified, the embellishments so numerous and complicated, and all the chief portions so elevated, compared with their horizontal cross sections, that they will not admit of reduction, without being fatal to that grand effect which is so emphatically realized, when the characteristic features of the style are developed in that gigantic manner which renders the general effect sublime. In all the experiments which have been made to apply that style to smaller structures than vast metropolitan basilicas, the fascicles of slender columns, numerous minarets, painted arches, and the profuse sculptured ornaments, are necessarily so diminished, as to become indistinct, confused and insignificant; and when the materials, as is generally the case in this country, are wood, or an incongruous combination of stone, bricks, wood, and paint, the effect is contemptible. It is like imitating the antique sculptures of Corinthiap bronze in papier maché, when the Gothic should always be executed in stone, and be of colossal dimensions; then it becomes a style, that may properly be classed with those of Egypt and Greece for elegance and majesty; but it must, however, be restricted in its application to the edifices which have been named.
The Grecian and Egyptian architecture may not only be adopted for the same purpose as the Gothic, with equal, if not greater propriety, but also for libraries, galleries of paintings, depositories of statuary, banking-houses, railroad depôts and stations, propylæums or gateways to cities, fortresses, arsenals, navy-yards and public squares; while the former can be properly adopted for halls of legislation, seminaries of learning, and many other public edifices; and they possess this important advantage over the Gothic, for so simple, chaste, and bold, are the forms of the ancient structures of those styles, that imitations of them may be made of the smallest dimensions, and yet retain that symmetrical beauty of outline, for which the originals are so distinguished ; and the little temple of Diana at Eleusis, or that cut from a single block of granite at Elephantine, * may be adopted as models for the humblest village chapel. Edifices of these orders, as well as of the Gothic, should be isolated, and the large area, in which they are situated, enclosed by a peribolus, with an appropriate propylæum.
The Italio-Roman, or Palladian style, should be confined to blocks of houses, stores, or other continuous ranges of tenements, in the streets of cities, where numerous stories, windows, and doors are indispensable, as they can be made to harmonize with that manner of construction, and the exuberance of ornaments which it admits, will have a pleasing effect, by varying the monotonous extent of prolonged surface. But, whenever it has been resorted to, for detached structures, the result has been far from being satisfactory, in consequence of the extravagant deviations from that unity of design, utility of purpose, and distinctness of configuration, which are the chief elements of beauty and grandeur, in the most celebrated creations of art. Every attempt, therefore, to rear a large and truly magnificent edifice, in conformity to the principles of the Italian school, has been and ever must be unsuccessful; for there is no distinct and commanding proportional form, which is so uniform in plan, elevation and profile, by an established theory of the appropriate admeasurements of length, breadth, and height, as to be universally applicable, as are those which were established for the temples, porticoes and propylæums of Greece and Egypt.
The Cathedral of St. Peter, at Rome, was intended to have been a triumphal monument of the superiority of the Italian style over all others, and a paragon of architecture for all future ages; and no architect in modern times, has had such a glorious opportunity to acquire distinction, as the projector of that vast Christian temple; for he was unrestricted in design, and unlimited in the means for its complete execution. Yet how lamentably did he fail in
• Herodotus, B. II. Chap. II. Sec. clxxv.
the accomplishment of his object. Having taken the facade of a forum for the several elevations, he boasted that he would suspend the Pantheon in the air, and not content with that extravagant and erroneous conception, he surmounted the apex of the dome with the temple of Juno, on that of the Sibyl at Tivoli, by which unfortunate arrangement, the architectural details of each were lost in the distance and by the acute angles of the lines of vision, while the transferred structures were as useless as the idea of their elevation to those giddy heights was preposterous, and the effect inconsequential.
The Pantheon being circular in plan, the whole roof was appropriately arched, in the centre of which was an aperture for the admission of light into the naos of the temple; the dome, therefore, not only harmonized with the form of the edifice, but added as much grace to the external contour, as it did beauty to the interior.
The several architects, who were successively employed to superintend the work, seem to have made it a principle, to copy all kinds of structures, and every variety of ornament found among the remains of the ancient works of art in Rome; and how infinitely inferior is the entire structure, in beauty and grandeur, to even the dilapidated temple of “All the God," and yet, how much it might have surpassed it, and the most perfect of the Egyptian temples, or those of Minerva and Jupiter in Athens, and that of Juno, in the island of Delos, had either of them been selected for the form, and the imitation made as much longer than the prototype, as the vast mass of materials which were employed would have admitted, for they were sufficient to have more than trebled the dimensions of those celebrated edifices.
Sculpture and painting, like architecture, are the creations of religion, and are to be traced through all the stages of civilization, from the rudest image and simplest sketch made by sarage man, to the cyclopic Apollo of Rhodes, and the frescos in the tombs of the Egyptian monarchs, to the statue of Moses by Angelo and the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci.
The productions of sculpture, of far distant epochs, have been perpetuated in the ruins of the oldest cities of antiquity, and descriptions of others, of very remote periods, have been transmitted down to the present, in the books of the Old Testament, and in the works of authors, who flourished earlier, cotemporaneously, or in later ages. The golden calf and brazen serpent, which were reared in the wilderness during the Exodus of the Israelites; the Cherubim, whose wings were outspread over the mercy-seat of the tabernacle, and the brazen sea supported by twelve brown oxen, exhibited the skill of the Jews and the Tyrian artists, who were employed in executing the ornaments of the temple.
Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus have given very interesting accounts of the statues which were placed in the temple of Belus at Babylon, and in the courts of the temple of Semiramis. Amidst the ruins of Persepolis, Balbec and Nineveh, are still discovered remains of sculpture; and those of the latter city have become objects of such deep interest to the artists and antiquarians of France, that agents have been sent to that once immense and splendid capital of Assyria,* for the purpose of making explorations, and sending the most remarkable specimens to Paris.
Egyptian sculpture has excited the wonder of travelers, since the age of Homer. In the remains of more than forty palaces and temples now exist memorials of the power, resources of the sovereign, and the skill of their sculptors, at an era more distant than the Trojan war.
It was in Greece, however, that the art of sculpture reached the highest point of excellence, and the statues of her artists surpassed in form and beauty of execution, those of all other nations of ancient or modern times. Quintilian remarks that “the Athenian Minerva of Phidias and his Olympian Jupiter, possessed merits, which seemed to have added consequence to religion, so worthy of those divinities was the majesty of the work.” His emulous competitors executed the superb sculptures that decorated the Parthenon and the temple of Theseus, and until the conquest of Greece, there was not a city on the shores or islands of the Mediterranean, that did not boast of numerous priceless examples of the genius of her sculptors; and some of the most celebrated were destined to embellish the forums, palaces, and temples of Rome, and a few yet exist, to verify the correctness of the encomiums which history has transmitted.
Rome did not produce any pre-eminent sculptor, and the numerous statues which were made, from the usurpation of sovereign authority by Julius Cæsar, until Constantine established his imperial capital at Byzantium, were the productions of Greeks, who sought employment in other nations, after the subjugation of their native land.
Italy was long the modern Attica of sculpture and painting; but in the former, Chantrey, Thorwaldsen, Greenough, Crawford and Powers have approximated nearer to the models of the age of Pericles, in grandeur of conception and delicacy of execution, than any of their predecessors in Italy; while the latter gifted son of the Green Mountains, has boldly and triumphantly raised the mystic veil, which for more than twenty centuries had screened those beautiful and sublime intellectual creations in the vast Hercula
In the time of the Prophet Jonah, it contained over 600,000 inhabitants, and Strabo states that it was larger than Babylon.