Thursday, July 26, 2012


Detecting the beginnings of any discipline in ancient Greece would at one time seemed self-evident, standard procedure, as it were. Today, however, we are more likely to be aware of the prior contributions of other civilizations, particular those of the ancient Near East and of Egypt.  Taking issue with the "Greek miracle" school, not a few scholars of ancient civilizations have foregrounded the signal achievements of these earlier societies--achieve­ments to which the Greeks owed so much. Among the ancient peoples, the Sumerians assume first place (beginning ca. 3500 B.C.), as seen in their introduc­tion of writing and schools, monumental architec­ture, and public administration.i Other important contribu­tions were made somewhat later by the Akkadians and the Egyptians. Some other cre­ations, though, such as philosophical dialectic and illusion­ism in art, do seem to be Greek innovations.
When all is said and done, determination of cultural priority must be made on a case-by-case basis. In this light, we cannot automatically credit the Greeks with the invention of art history or even systematic writing about art and aesthetics--though they may have done so. At the outset this question needs to be addressed, with an open mind and in the broadest possible context.
In a global perspective, texts about art, numerous as they are, do not present a uniform pattern of distribu­tion.  In some eras the cluster densely, in others they are sparse, and in yet others completely absent--at least as far as the evidence goes. There are in fact whole cultures that possess both a sophisti­cated literature and a vibrant heritage of the visual arts, but nonethe­less lack a tradition of reflective writing about art.  One might almost say that the creation of a discipline of art history is a "sport" of civilization rather than its norm. Noted for its searching religious and philosophical speculations, the historic civilization of India also developed sophisticated theories of grammar and poetics; yet India never created an original body of systematic writings on the history of the visual arts.ii  The same lack, as far as we can tell, characterized the traditions of ancient Sumeria, Akkadia, and Egypt, the pioneers of human civilization in the old world.  In the Western hemisphere the Maya civiliza­tion is today yielding a growing corpus of interpreted texts, but none suggest the existence of art theory. All these primary civilizations produced splendid works of art, prizing them as indispensable contributions to religious and civic well-being.  Yet this esteem seemingly seems to have generated no demand for explicit theoretical discourse. 
In mainstream art-history teaching and writing it is standard practice to include these works themselves as physical objects. Yet by definition this book is a second-order study, one that addresses actual art developments only in so far as they throw light on the fixing of historio­graphical traditions.

The Special Status of Greece and China.
When all is said and done, there seem to be only two autono­mous fountainheads of the theory of art: ancient Greece and China.iii The Greek tradition is the earlier one, achieving maturity in the early third century B.C. at the start of the Hellenistic age.  The Greek practice of the history of art did not perish with the Hellenes' loss of political liberties. And more was to come.  Attentive students of the Greek cultural heritage, the Romans absorbed their views on the visual arts, transmitting them to medieval and modern Europe.  
The Chinese tradition of art writing emerged later, in the third century of our era. As far as can be determined this Far Eastern practice was self-contained, requiring no nourishing impulses from the West.  Chinese theories of art migrated chiefly to Korea and Japan, where adoption of the ideogramic script made the earlier treasury of writings readily accessible to scholars.  
Viewed in the context of world culture, art history was diffused from two sources, one toward the Western end of the huge Eurasian land mass, the other on the Eastern rim.
While the ultimate interplay of causal factors may never be known, it is worth attempting some discernment of the remarkable cultural ecologies that gave rise to these developments.  First a word of caution: it is unlikely that some inherent superiority of Greek and Chinese art sufficed to generate this achievement. As has just been remarked, there were other ancient and remarkable art traditions whose splendor is not dimmed by the fact that the peoples who created them never developed an autonomous genre of art writing.  To be sure, the tabooing of the representational arts by some societies, such as the people of the Hebrew Bible, whose prophets warned them against the seductions of idolatry, would discourage sympathetic analysis of the objects, though it might draw attention to the dangerous power of images.iv 
Three major factors link ancient Greece and dynastic China.  First, they both developed an intellectually inquiring sense of history as seen in the work of major histori­ans.  Other societies recorded important events in the form of chronicles, but the emergence of critical history ranks among the salient features of these two civiliza­tions.v  This critical approach naturally migrated into the study of art. Other societies had been content with the separation "good art" from that which is less meritorious, the good art of course being the prerogative of the elite.  Greece and China, however, taking their cue from their overall sense of historical development, embraced the idea that art evolves, its governing principles shifting over the course of time.  This concept of artistic evolution is central to the creation of art history. 
Secondly, Greece and China--in contrast to their neighbors and compet­itors--came to cherish a secular culture.  This does not mean that religious impulses were absent, and indeed many of the finest surviving sculptures of both came into being under religious auspic­es: think of the images of the gods of Olympus and the figures of Chinese Buddhist tradition. Painting was more secular, as seen in Greek historical murals and Chinese landscape painting.  Religion was not over­thrown, but its influence was tempered by other forces. In this way "a balance of power" emerged, in which the capacity of the priestly caste to control cultural expression diminished. Interaction, rather than hierarchy, was the keynote.  Once art works were no longer prized solely for their religious efficacy, the way lay open for connoisseurs and collectors to admire them for their aesthetic qualities.  These two formative themes, the cultivation of history and the emergence of an autonomous secular culture, worked synergetically to create the conditions for a new concept of the visual arts, and this concept is the essential prerequisite for emergence of art theory. 
A third factor, less crucial at the outset, but one which became increasingly important with the passage of time, is the the habit of likening the visual arts with the verbal ones, especial­ly poetry.  Since the theory of literary interpretation developed earlier, it naturally provided patterns for the theory of art.  As the Horatian tag "Ut pictura poesis" attests, the concept of the "sister arts" had enduring resonance in the In China, the two were even more closely linked, for the contemplative cultiva­tion of painting and poetry was one of the markers of the most prestigious social class: that of the literatus, or scholar-official (shih).
All these distinguishing features seem to reflect a pervasive underlying strength, and that is the emergence of critical thinking.  The resulting cultural climate stimulated comparative study of evidence.  One might gather, for example, different variants of a myth and sift them in order to determine which was the most authoritative. Such a process of critical sorting presupposes, implicitly or explicitly, criteria for decision that allow one to rank the different versions of the myth.  Generalizing from this example, one can come increasin­gly closer to "what is the case" through a series of approxima­ti­ons--though only if one is prepared to discard, time and time again, formulations that at first seem adequate but which in the light of further experience prove in need of replacement.vii 

The Greek Trajectory.
Further discussion of China is reserved to the following chapter. Turning to ancient Greece, we note that critical thinking about art did not emerge all at once, but required a consider­able development of art itself and of attitudes towards it. Ultimately a sophisticated approach to art appeared--one in which the growing force of aesthetic values mingled with themes surviving from earlier times.
The pages that follow treat some key factors that conditioned the emergence of the discipline of the history of art among the Greeks. Not everything had a positive effect.  Among the hindrances is the conserva­tive notion that older images, even if crude by modern standards, have a venerable authority--and perhaps even a magical power--that must not be impugned. Perhaps influenced by this tendency, the philosopher Plato disparaged the very idea of change in the arts. Somehow he felt, aesthetic change undermined the pursuit of truth and the quest for the good society. Then there was the lingering prejudice against the visual arts, regarded as mere crafts, with its implication that while such artisanal productions may have a history, reconstructing it was scarcely an urgent task.
Among factors favoring the emergence of art history are the general critical attitude towards history and the idea of progress as a measurable sequence of stages. Then there was the interest of artists in their own field as seen in the treatises which, though lost to us, were important building blocks for the creation of more elaborate histories of art. Also, one notes the interest of some cultivated individuals in the arts, as apprecia­tors and friends of art, and finally as collectors, a factor that became more important in Hellenistic and Roman times. These last two positive factors foreshadow the two types of figures who were, over the centuries, to undertake the task of writing the histories of art: the artist-historian and the connoisseur-historian, the one with the professional training in the arts, the other a layperson.

Permutations of Imagery in Ancient Greece.
The earliest surviving sculptures from ancient Greece are notable for their abstraction.  Some take the form of cylinders, with the limbs tightly contained in the bodily contour.  This form, though reflecting the tree trunk out of which the wooden archetypes were hewn, reflects a pattern of stylization that stems from a very different mentality than that which characterizes the better known masterpieces of archaic and classical times. Generally made of wood, many of the oldest cult figures were little more than planklike stocks, sometimes surmounted with the head of the deity they represented. These figures (xoana), have perished, but are known to us from representations and literary descriptions. Like the baitulia, or black meteoric stones, these objects were believed to have fallen from the sky rather than being fashioned by human craftspeople. Most of these images seem to have originated in the first half of the first millennium B.C.
Filled with immense supernatural potency, some of these figures were accorded the status of pal­ladia, talismans protecting a city from foreign conquest or dis­ease.viii  The unearthly simplicity of these geometrical images, bearing as they did the charisma of the supernatural sphere from which they stemmed, did not admit of criticism or improve­ment. Thus as long as these forms remained dominant there could be no question of art evolving. The xoana were perfect of their kind.
One legendary figure, so we are informed, dared to break with the stasis of these crude but exemplary forms. Daedalus (or Daidalos), renowned as the builder of the labyrinth in Crete, came to be honored as the creator of figures that were not blind and motion­less in keeping with the established pattern, but seemed to have the power of seeing and moving.ix The name of Daedalus (originally an adjective meaning something like "well crafted") served as a collection point for anecdotes stemming from various periods, from Minoan times onwards.
In all likelihood, the advance towards a more lifelike presenta­tion of sculptures was the achievement of a number of artists working in succession. The crucial steps seem to have occurred in the seventh century--during the "Orientalizing phase"--as Greek art moved away from the severe simplicity of the Geometric style to the monumental grandeur of the Archaic.x Yet in crediting the advance to Daedalus, the Greeks introduced, in its primordial form, the key concept of innovation, which was later to be elaborated into the schemata that form the basis for ongoing efforts to understand the logos or the inner rationale of the pattern of historical change in the arts. The historical evolution of sculpture in the Archaic period has been reconstructed by modern archaeologists. This analysis has brought to the fore two complimentary notions for the understanding of art: a concept of unchanging archetypes (an ideal that was later to recur in a very sophisticat­ed form in Plato's theory of Forms) and the idea of individual artists breaking with tradition so as to create innovative prototypes that offer qualities not previously known. In fact Greek art after 600 B.C. reveals an almost hectic pace of change, one unmatched by any previous art tradition.
            Although it represents a break, the legend of Daedalus remained anchored in the magical world of special powers of art, for he created works that not only seemed lifelike, but were perceived by some as actually being alive. In the course of their develop­ment the Greeks gradually, though perhaps never completely, shuffled off the bonds of this magical view.
The cult images found in classical times on the Athenian Acropolis show both the change towards naturalism and rationalism and the stubborn persistence of reverence for the xoana.  On the one hand, there was the old planklike idol of Athena, rudimentary but powerful, which received the gift of a new robe every four years.  The endowment of the figure with garments suggests that it was thought of as being animate; the Athena figure demanded appropriate vestments, just as a powerful ruler or priest might.  Later statues reveal a different mentality.  For sophisti­cated observers, the gold and ivory colossus created by Phidias towards the end of the fifth century for the new Athena temple on the Acropolis, combining as it did majesty and beauty, functioned more as a symbol of the goddess than a habitation for her true pres­ence.  In this way magical elements receded, and aesthetic ones came forward.  Except for a small minority of sophisticates, most Athenians would have been shocked by the idea that the Phidian Athena was a mere aesthetic object.  The key point, however, is that the balance gradually shifted, and it became possible to discuss sculptures for their aesthetic qualities as well as their religious functions, in keeping with the overall balance of secularism and tradition that governed Greek society.  Until the end of paganism, the Acropolis, like other Greek sanctuaries, remained the site of bloody sacrific­es of animals to gain the favor of the gods.xi
Alongside the cult images, Greek sculpture eventually developed sculptures that were wholly secular.  A striking example is Antenor's dual image of the tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristo­geiton, created a little after 509 B.C.--only a few years after the slaying of the tyrant Hipparchus in 514. Stolen by the Persians when they occupied the city of Athens in 480, the group was replaced almost immediately after the enemy withdrawal by a new, up-to-date version.xii  This group is dedicated to human rather than divine personalities; moreover, it refers back not to some vague or legendary past, but to a particular event of contemporary times. Once again, the Greek mind showed no sharp break with the older tradition of evoking occurrences that belonged to the legendary past, but was comfortable with the coexistence of this practice with the newer notion of marking histori­cal events precisely. Moreover, the older practices were supplemented by a habit of dedicating sculp­tures to such abstract concepts as Victory or Fortune.  Although there was a tendency to give these images a shadowy divine status, they are essentially personifica­tions of concepts.  The increasing populari­ty of these personifica­tion figures, noticeable especially in the Hellenistic period after 323 B.C., is another token of the increasing distance from the older magical view in which the image was a repository of the mysterium tremendum, to be feared and propitiated, but not to serve as a reminder of rational concepts and processes. Some of these figures were made by famous sculptors and were regarded as landmarks in the overall history of art. Thus the category of allegorical figures was both timeless and timely, in that they honored enduring concepts and forces, while marking a particular point in the development of the art of sculpture.
Later centuries have admired the Greeks for their creation of works of art that were inherently beautiful.  In keeping with the gradual shift towards a more secular emphasis, however, the Greeks originally regarded the beauty of the figures as a trait that was significant because they would be pleasing to the gods. A signifi­cant body of archaic Greek sculpture--the kouroi (male) and korai (female) figures--represent, for the most part, handsome young people who died young.  The male figures, the kouroi, are invari­ably nude, the female ones usually dressed.  Modern scholars, such as Lord Kenneth Clark in his widely read The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art,xiii commonly deny that there is anything erotic in the appeal of these male figures.  Yet Greek mythology is replete with legends of male gods who became infatuated with human beings, male and female, sometimes--as with Zeus and his loves-­-abducting them for sexual purposes.  "Pleasing to the gods" then must have been a multivalent quality, from which attributes of sexual attractiveness would not necessarily be absent--in contrast with later Christian ideas of sanctity.  Greek cities offered a continuous display of young men (and occasionally, as at Sparta, of young women) exercising in the nude.  The young men in particular became objects of erotic idealization which, in the case of Plato, became intermixed with sophisticated philosophical speculations.  More humble craftsmen, the vase painters, often depicted the reigning male beauties, inscribing their names followed by the epithet kalos (beautiful).  These images, pinups if you will, attest to the degree that physical beauty in Greece was becoming an autonomous warrant for artistic creation.
Mention of inscriptions on vases suggests another aspect of the secularization process: artists' signatures.  The earliest sculptor's signature seems to be that of Euthykartides of Naxos, ca. 630. Then came the vase painters: Sophilos (active ca. 580-570 B.C.) signed three vases as painter, one as potter.  "A personal act of self-assertion by artists, this move was virtually unprece­dent­ed: we have only a handful of Egyptian signatures, and none from elsewhere."xiv Still, older magical ideas lingered, for the common formula is "X made me."  It is as if the vase or sculpture has the power of speech, directly addressing the viewer.
The appearance of these signatures attests to the growth of an important idea--that of artistic proper­ty.  Even though the signed vase is bought by a client to whom full legal title passes and may eventually be sold to another, as long as it survives it still remains attached to the artist.  The signature is a kind of umbilical cord attaching the piece forever to its maker, while at the same time enhancing the value of the piece to the legal owner.xv 
The idea that a cultural product remains in some sense eternally the property of the one who first made it seems to have originated in lyric poetry of the seventh and sixth century, where individual poems by such writers as Sappho and Archilochus were prized as typical and inalienable creations of the poets.xvi  Individual style, as evidenced by distinctive meters and choice of vocabulary, emerges as distinct from the more collective modes of the earlier generations of epic poets. The achievement of this concept of distinctive individual voices in poetry seems to be the immediate predecessor of the recognition of individual styles in the work of the great sculptors and painters of the fifth and fourth century BCE.
If individual styles are recognizable they can be imitated. In this way the idea of artistic property has as its corollary the notion of plagiarism, itself a word of Greek derivation.  Signifi­cantly, cultures that are still dominated by a religious world view, as ancient Egypt or Byzantium, had only at most an attenuat­ed notion of plagiarism.  In these civilizations creators (writers and artists) garnered praise for staying as closely as possible to the prototype rather than to foreground innovations which would give their work a personal stamp.  Significantly, relatively few names of artists are known from ancient Egypt and Byzantium as compared with Greece.  All this does not mean that Greek art is better--that is a matter for individual judgment--but simply that the Greeks began to invest their art with a new character, one in which elements of critical evaluation and artistic personality could play a part.  Ultimately, the concept of artistic personalities embodied in individual styles became crucial for the subdiscipline of art history known as connoisseurship: scholars working in this vein seek to isolate the distinctive features of an artist's style as criteria for estab­lishing authenticity.

The Fifth Century and After.
Up to this point the discussion has focused on pre-Archaic and Archaic Greece. The shift from the Archaic to the Classic period is not merely a convention of modern historians. The final repulse of the Persian invaders in 480 was a great accomplish­ment, affirming the freedom of the city states of continental Greece and the is­lands.  It also ranks as a cultural watershed in that art started afresh, especially at Athens.  The sweeping of the Archaic debris, what excavators of our own time recognize as the great legacy of pre-480 sculpture, into a series of trenches north and south of the Athenian acropolis, vigorously--even brutal­ly--signals the new start.
Later Greek art historical writing tended to neglect the achievements of the Archaic period. Setting aside legendary figures such as Daedalus (none of whose works were known), later Greek writers on art tended to take for granted that the first important advances in what we now term the early Clas­sical period occurred in the first half of the fifth century B.C.xvii 
The physical recovery of the record of the earlier half millennium has been the work of modern archaeologists, beginning about 1885 (when the epochal German Acropolis excavations began).  But the important feature was not simply the recovery of the material remains as such, which might have lingered, like so many other discoveries, in museum storerooms and basements. The enthusiastic reception of these remains took place in an atmosphere highly favorable to the aesthetic values of Archaic art, as seen in its stylization and love of pattern.  In fact these are qualities prominent in European symbolist art, which flowered in the 1880s--precisely the time in which the lost masterpieces were emerging from their earthen imprisonment.  In the twentieth century, under the guidance of eyes tutored in abstract art, an even earlier phase of Greek art--now termed geometric--was rehabilitat­ed.  The way in which this scrutiny of earlier phases of art through modern lenses opened shifting, enriching vistas has been charted by Otto J. Brendel for Roman art, but not yet, so it seems, for Greek.xviii
Understanding the resulting "recentering" of our view of Greek art serves not only as a reminder of changing patterns of taste, but also underscores the mental effort that is required to recover the Greek view of Greek art, which may strike us as more limited than our own. In fairness, though, our own enhanced picture would not be possible without the mental tools bequeathed us by our Hellenic predecessors.
The fifth century saw the birth of the concept of the "great master" in sculpture and painting. Perhaps the Greeks derived the idea of competitive achievement guided by a wish to break records from athletics. From an early date the names of the Olympic victors were preserved and upheld as models to be emulated and surpassed. At all events, the masters of art were individuals of almost heroic stature, remembered by telling anecdotes and associated with a few major works: "masterpieces."xix  The influence of these masters was discerned not only on one another but on lesser figures, who make up a school.  In this way a kind of class distinction emerged between the "nobles"--the great masters--and the "commoners"--the followers and school figures. The concept of the school is a useful tool for it enables connoisseurs and historians to discern clusters of artists rather than just focusing on each one seriatim. In some cases, as in the Canon of Polyclitus and in writings by the painters Apelles, Melanthius, Asclepiodorus, Euphranor, and Parrhasius, the masters even addressed the public through the written word. Although these texts are all unfortunately lost, they are known to have made an important contribution in later attempts at a synthetic account of the history of Greek art.
The social status of artists, at least the major figures, increased markedly in the Classic fifth and fourth centuries of ancient Greece.  Their fame is mainly known to us through later writers such as Pausanias and Pliny the Elder.  Still, scholars have identified enough residues of earlier writings to indicate that these records preserve authentic traditions stemming from the time of the artists themselves.  Yet with all this increase in status and fame, there were definite limitations on the visual artists who, unlike writers, still continued to be associated with manual labor.  The Greeks were at best ambivalent about manual labor because of its association with slavery.  An amusing example of this tendency to dismissal is found in an autobiographical essay of Lucian (ca. A.D. 120-200), in which the writer recounts a dream that occurred in his youth when he was trying to decided what career to follow.xx In his dream Sculpture appears as a coarse old hag covered with dust--scarc­ely a fit patroness for the aspiring young man who unhesitatingly chooses her glamorous rival, Litera­ture.  The ambivalence that underlies this disparaging contrast is not yet dissipated even today. This prejudice against artists has often led ambitious parents to steer their offspring away from careers in the "manual" arts. For those who nonetheless chose this calling, the tradition of disparagement created a kind of glass ceiling above which only a very few outstanding individuals could rise.

Plato's Critique.
The attitudes limiting the social ascent of creators of the visual arts just described stemmed from popular notions of the ranking of professions and trades.  A more sophisticated argument was developed by the philosopher Plato (ca. 427-347 B.C.). Plato's deprecatory views about the representational arts stem from his Theory of Forms with its "two-story architecture" of reality.xxi  According to Plato, the world of sense perception in which we live is a lesser realm, in effect the lower story, completely and utterly dependent on the upper sphere which is not directly accessible to us, but inferrable according to rational processes.  Every object we encounter in this lower realm is simply a copy, as a rule blurred and inadequate, of the archetype resplendently lodged in the upper sphere, the realm of Forms.  Thus a couch, to use Plato's example derived from the symposia or banquets in which he and his circle reclined and discussed their ideas, was a mere copy of the archetypal Couch.  From this consideration it follows that a painting of a couch stands at two steps removed from ultimate reality, since it is a copy of a copy.  Moreover, a carpenter is actually worthier than a painter since in making his couch he is referring, as best he can, to archetypal reality, rather than a copy of it.  Inherent in this view is the idea of art as imitation (mimesis), which in ever varying guises was to suffuse art theory until the end of the eighteenth century.xxii  Only some centuries later were thinkers in the Platonic tradition able to overcome these unfavorable consequences of the theory of Forms, by suggest­ing that the inspired artist is capable, through the force of his imagination (phantasia), to intuit the world of forms directly.xxiii
In addition to the dependency theory dictated by the doctrine of Forms, with its belittling effects, Plato seems to have been disturbed by developments in the art of his own day. His condemna­tion of epistemological illusion led him to disparage new devices for creating illusion in painting, above all shading or chiaroscuro, which in the interest of increasing overall lifelike­ness inevitably obscures portions of the depicted scene that are left in the dark.xxiv In an influential passage in the dialogue on pleasure known as Philebus (50B-C), the philosopher's dislike of "mixture" brings him to the brink of anticipating modern abstract sculpture. "The beauty of figures which I am now trying to indicate is not what most people would understand as such, not the beauty of a living creature or a picture; what I mean . . . is something straight, or round, and the surfaces and solids which a lathe, or a carpenter's rule and square, produces from the straight and the round. . . . Things like that, I maintain, are beautiful not, like most things, in a relative sense; they are always beautiful in their very nature."xxv In all probability, this praise of objects, such as the cylinders and cones produced by a lathe, reflects a reminiscence of the old xoana, which Plato may have unconsciously reverted to as symbols of an older, and better age. In any event, in his search for a contrast with the aesthetic instability of his own time Plato was capable of traveling even further back in time, to an art immensely older than that of the Greeks themselves. In a late work, The Laws (656E), he extolls Egyptian art, claiming that it has not changed in ten thousand years. Having long ago achieved good standards reflected in model works, they saw no reason to deviate from them.
It would be a mistake to take Plato's views as representative of all Greek philosophy, let alone of other currents of opinion that were not philosophical.  Moreover, even he seems to have been divided since other passages attest a sensitivity to actual works of art.  Many modern scholars believe, moreover, that Plato's writings, especially the later ones, represent a "reactionary," antidemocratic trend grounded in disappointments that were the outcome of Athens' defeat in the Peloponnesian war.xxvi  We need not accept this "totalitarian" view of Plato's thought to recognize that he had little sympathy with any ideas of progress; for him moral polarities--good and bad, virtue and vice--took precedence over ideas of historical development.

Greek Ideas of Historical Development.
Plato has enjoyed an enormous influence on Western thought of all periods. Yet the presupposi­tions for the creation of the history of art as a cumulative narrative of advance from one stage to another lie in another realm of intellectual endeavor--that which created the idea of progress.xxvii It is sometimes asserted that the Greeks had no sense of progress. To be sure, the Greeks had no word for it. But enough evidence exists from a variety of sources--especially the writings of philosophers, dramatists, and medical writers--to demonstrate that some currents of Greek thought had formulated the idea. Its emergence was hindered, however, by two competing notions: (1) the myth of gradual decline from a remote Golden Age--witnessed by Hesiod's sequence of five races, with each succeeding one being worse off than the last; and (2) the Great Year, a cyclical concept in which the end of an era was marked by a catastrophe or sudden break, after which things started over from scratch, such cycles recurring over and over again ad infinitum (cf. Plato's Timaeus, Critias, and Laws).
The Greeks recognized that progress was paradoxical, for material advance might accompany or even generate moral decay. Continued monitoring of the balance sheet was needed, and in the end one might conclude that there had been too much progress. Moreover, however measurable the achievements of the past, the future was unknowable. In contrast with the teleology of Christian thinkers, the Greeks did not see progress as directed towards the achievement of a single goal.
The kernel of the idea was stated in the gnomic saying of the pre-Socratic thinker Xenophanes: "Not from the beginning did the gods reveal everything to mankind, but in the course of time by research men discover improvements." A more elaborate account of the conquest of nature, the keeping of records, and the emergence of science appears in Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound (442-506), and a similar, though more cautious, encomium to human accomplishments occurs in Sophocles's Antigone (332-75). Among the professions medical writers were most forthright about achievements in their own field. Towards the end of the fifth century the anonymous author of On Ancient Medicine asserted: "To make new discoveries of a useful kind, or to perfect what is still only half worked out, is the ambition and the task of the intelligence."
It was Aristotle, regarded by many as the philosopher of development par excellence, who most clearly linked general progress with advances in specific fields. In his Politics (1:2) he presents humanity as advancing from single peasant households, to a clan and city organization, to the culmination of the city state. In his account of drama known as the Poetics (1449a) he employs an analogous model to account for the rise of tragedy. This genre began, he says, with improvisation. Its advances thereafter were little by little, through a succession of advances on the previous stage. After a long series of changes tragedy attained its "natural form." Two features which often recur in accounts of other genres appear here; the movement from the simple to the complex and the notion of step-wise advance ("little by little"). Also influential, though less frequently adhered to, is the notion of the completion of development. After the natural form was attained only minor improvements were possible. This idea of the acme, or unsurpassable peak, character­izes some later theories of the history of art as a progress to a culminating point after which there can only be repetition--or decline.
Roman writers have preserved interesting sketches of what appear to be early efforts to apply these notions to the visual arts. According to Pliny (Natural History, 35:50), the first efforts at painting consisted of tracings of the outlines of shadows. These simple drawings yielded to monochrome painting in which the demarcated surfaces were filled with pigment. At a third stage four colors were permitted: white, yellow, red, and black.xxviii Finally, a more florid palette developed, which however attractive to the eye lacks the dignity of the four-color palette preferred by the Classic masters. The construction of this tale shows two interesting characteristics. First, as in Aristotle, development occurs from the simple to the complex. However, the maximum is not necessarily the optimum; qualitatively, the third stage, that of the four colors, represents the peak, and the "modern" florid colors a decline.
Another such story about progress has to do with sculpture. In his essay "Brutus," Cicero illustrated the development of oratory by drawing analogies with statues. In his view the sculptures of Conachus were "more rigid than they ought to have been if they were to imitate reality." The statues of Calamis, thought still hard, are softer than those of Conachus. Even the statues of the high Classic Myron had not achieved a fully satisfactory delineation of reality, though they are certainly beautiful. Finally, the works of Polyclitus are "just about perfect."xxix In this capsule account Cicero traces a development from the early Classic stiffness to high Classic naturalness and ideality. Here the motor of development is not increasing complexity but of the overcoming of an unwanted quality (rigidity) and the perfecting of a desired one (beauty).

Xenocrates of Sicyon.
In a brilliant reconstruction the German archaeologist Bernhard Schweitzer has traced the outlines of what appears to have been the first true Greek history of  Xenocrates of Sicyon, who later resided at Athens, was a sculptor active about 280 B.C.--towards the end of the great period of Greek sculpture.  His own reflec­tions on the arts are founded on four basic principles, which he probably derived from earlier artist's treatises and shop talk current in his time.  First, is symmetria, not so much modern "symmetry," but the relation of part to whole, or proportion.  This criterion was particularly relevant to sculpture, which was based on mathematical relationships.  Moreover, in Xenocrates' time observers were becoming increasingly conscious of changing norms of proportion: figures became more slender and graceful as compared with the more stocky Classical ideal.  Second is rhythm, perhaps aptly rendered as a unitary "pull" producing images of motion inspired by organic vivacity.  This is the formal unity of the work, including movement.  As conceived by Xenocrates, the principle of rhythm complemented that of symmetria.  Third comes akribia or precision.  This principle stresses the need for diligence and painstaking care with reference to the model.  Implicit in this precept is adherence to mimesis or imita­tion.  Finally, there is the matter that Schweitzer dubs the optical question.  Develop­ments in fifth-century painting with respect to foreshortening and perspec­tive had posed the question of the relation between two-dimension­al illusion and three-dimen­sional reality.  Put another way, what is the relation between optical truth and experiential truth? 
It need scarcely be stressed that differences between the ancient languages, on the one hand, and English, on the other, make the above renderings approximate at best. The key point, though, is that Xenocrates felt the need to articulate four crucial factors. Concentration on these four nodal points allowed him to focus on what we would now call the "logic of the situation" as the artist encountered it. How should the sculptor or painter deal with the challenge posed by his immediate predecessors? These concerns reflect both actual problems and aspects of their overall development that we can reconstruct after the fact.  Just as individual artists shape their career by grappling with these problems, so art as a whole has a "career" marked by a progressively more sophisticated approach to key issues.  And in fact, to judge from the reflections found in Pliny's work, Xenocrates did construct a skeleton history of art presented as a series of innovations by great masters, culminating in the works of Lysippus (sculpture) and Apelles (painting).
Unlike some other Greek authorities whose opinions are reported by Pliny (see below), Xenocrates' account seems to have reflected a special sobriety and attention to the fundamental problems. He seeks to report honestly the effect of the works of art, and eschews the temptation to indulge in anecdotes and epigrams.
A great help in understanding Xenocrates' outline history of sculpture are the copies that have survived of the masters he regards as pivotal: the Greek histor­ian's claims are in large measure verifiable through reference to visual evi­dence.xxxi In the sphere of painting the attempt to recon­struct the lost master­works from apparent reflections in vase painting and mosaic is more problematic. Xenocrates' progres­sive account is, however, essentially parallel to that of sculp­ture. For this reason a brief recapitulation of his understanding of the evolution of Greek sculpture will suffice to clarify his way of looking at things.
Xenocrates posits five supreme masters active over a period of about a century and a half. Phidias begins the sequence by setting forth the possibili­ties of statuary. Polyclitus advances the paradigm by introducing the principle of contrapposto in which the figures rest their weight on one leg; nonetheless, he falls short because his figures are too square and monotonous. Myron, the third in the sequence, tops his predecessor not only in symmetria but also in variety; he fails, though, in the rendering of hair, an aspect of akribia. Pythagoras of Rhegium mends this fault and also excells in the rendering of sinews and muscles; more importantly he succeeds not only in symmetria, but also in rhythm, so as to provide an effective presentation not only of figures at rest but also figures in motion. Finally, Lysippus achieves perfect proportion, by modififying the venerable canons in a special way.
In this paradigm distinctive stages are exemplified by masters of particular excellence. However, these masters are not linked by a master-pupil sequence. To be sure, Polyclitus and Myron were both pupils of a little known sculptor Hagaladas (or Ageladas). But neither studied with Phidias, nor did they instruct Pythagoras, who in turn did not teach Lysippos. The important thing is to pinpoint the stages that form a goal-directed or teleological sequence. These artists are perceived as engaging in competition.
             Thus Xenocrates states (as reported by Pliny) that Myron "defeated (vicit) Polyclitus." This assertion shows the importance of the agonic concept in Greek civilization, the theme of competition that crystalized in the Olympic and other Games, but also radiated throughout other aspects of Greek life. Masses of Greek poetry and sculpture were produced to celebrating the victors of these athletic contests.
When we compare Xenocrates' paradigm of the five sculptors with the findings of modern scholarship, the chronology seems flawed. Polyclitus and Myron were coevals, which would not exclude the possibility of the latter triumphing over the former. However, Pythagoras of Rhegium seems to have been the oldest and is unlikely to have lived so long as to surpass his three colleagues.xxxii (We have no accurate birth and death dates for any Greek artist, just dates, absolute or approximate, for major works and for their floruit, or high point of achievement.) Xenocrates, unequipped with modern research tools and probably limited in his experience to a narrow range of sites in the Peloponnesus and Attica may be forgiven this error (though it is replicated by Pliny, who had other sources at hand). In the final analysis Xenocrates' skewing of chronology matters little, for he created an "ideal type," a scheme of development guided by certain informing principles that was to serve as a model for many later attempts, however they might be modified and even oblivious of their debt to him.
The theory of Xenocrates is both technical and formalist, for it addresses both "Why does it look as it does?" and "How did we get from there to here?" (the latter including, perhaps, the further question: "Where are we going?). Xenocrates addressed the first question, concerning the perceptual qualities of visual works, with a series of technical terms (symmetria, rhythm, etc.) derived from studio practice. The second question, pertaining to the historical trajectory of art, he articulated in terms of great masters making a series of advances.
In the history of art, these two modes of analysis were long to run in parallel, but the emphasis changed.  Eventually, the first question came to be formulated more in terms of aesthetic criteria, such as beauty, grace and the like. Discus­sions of historical development also became less technical. This shift in emphasis reflects the fact that art history came to be written through the collaboration of two classes of persons.  It was not the province solely of practicing artists, such as Xenocrates, but major input came from connoisseurs and scholars, such as Pliny the Elder.  Of course, the practicing artists would still tend to emphasize technical concerns in contrast to the preference of connois­seurs for the more purely formal ones.  It is clear, however, that there was much interaction between the two stand­points, in as much as artists became increas­ingly involved in "explaining" their works to patrons, and therefore adopted language they could understand, while connois­seurs, for their part, wished to learn more about the processes involved in making the works they so admired.
Xenocrates' choice of the five chief masters, which involves some manipulation of chronology, may not be entirely objective. For two of the artists, Polyclitus and Lysippus, are associated with Sicyon, Xenocrates' home town. This element of local patriotism was to recur in later Western art history, as seen in Vasari and other Italian art historians who gave pride of place to their own city and region. Still, the important thing about Xenocrates' presentation is that it is clear. Greek sculpture is a kind of school for the progressive improvement of representation.
               The school passes through five major stages, culminating in the finished achievement of Lysippus. Implicit in the scheme is a distinction between the quintet of great masters, on the one hand, and the rest, on the other. This contrast finds a parallel in the literary criticism of Dionysius of Halicarnassus (first century B. C.), who divides orators into two classes, the inventors of the art and its perfectors. The distinction recurs in even more intense form and in the later Western European idea of the "original genius" of such masters as Michelan­gelo and Rembrandt as opposed to the lesser efforts of their follow­ers.
It must be acknowledged that the account given here depends on the recuperative work of several generations of modern scholars, since the actual treatise of Xenocrates does not survive.  Its content must be inferred from excerpts and allusions found in later writers, above all Pliny the Elder, shortly to be the subject of closer attention.  Pliny, who wrote his Chapters in the History of Art about 70 CE, presents the theory attributed to Xenocrates not as something new, but as a familiar set of ideas which can be played off against, or combined with other notions. If "Xenoc­rates" (the body of material excavated, as it were, from Pliny by modern scholars) was not identical with the historical Xenocrates, then he must have been someone else, undoubtedly a Greek, living some three and a half centuries before Pliny's compilation.  Thus we are faced with the fact that the paternity of art history, as befits a discipline that has sometimes been viewed as problemat­ic, cannot be established with absolute certainty, but its foundation stems nonetheless from the Hellenistic era, from Xenocrates or someone very like him, perhaps living only a little earlier. 
Why did art history reach this threshold when it did? Students of ancient literacy have shown that the classical era was a transitional one, with many preferring oral expression to writing things down. Socrates took pride in writing nothing, while his pupil Plato left behind a large corpus, whose favorite form, however, the dialogue, attests the persistence of oral norms. Only after Plato's time, it seems, did the written tradition achieve its final triumph.xxxiii At one time, those who wished to access artists' shop talk and connois­seurs' evaluations had to participate directly in the viva voce discussions. But as writing became more generally accepted, some authors strove to distill the content of these discussions in permanent form, accessible not only to contemporaries but to posterity.
Art history then traces its birth to the Hellenistic age, an era of Greek culture proverbially more celebrated for its "flights of the owl of Minerva," the secondary creativity of scholarship, than for striking new works.  The Library at Alexandria, the equivalent of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study in its time, fittingly symbolizes this shift in emphasis. The Hellenistic period also saw the beginning of serious art collect­ing. Prominent art lovers of earlier times, including tyrants of the Archaic age and the democratic leader Pericles, contented themselves with patronage of public art. The Hellenistic kings, notably Attalus of Pergamon (269-197 B.C.), were the first major collectors of art for its own sake.xxxiv Not surpris­ingly, when the Romans conquered the Greek East, the nouveau riche class of Italy began to import Greek art for instruction and delectation. To satisfy their whims, a vigorous art market arose, supplying copies as well as originals.xxxv
The Hellenistic age, as modern investigators have shown, was no mere era of retrospection­--it had its own vibrant creativity.xxxvi  To be sure, the new era of Alexander and his successors also honored the revered figures of the past. This desire to take stock, to evaluate, and to catalogue, favored a continuing preoccupation with the great masters of Greek art, their individual achievements, and sequential relationships with one another. 
The interests that culminated during this period led to a sense of the logical development of art. Compelling for their own sake, there are many prominent individuals and episodes, but they form parts of a chain, exhibiting a rational sequence of development.  That concatenation is the "story of art." The later Greeks understood this concept, bequeathing their understand­ing to their acolytes among the Roman intelligen­tsia.

Pliny the Elder.
An aristocratic Roman of the early imperial period, Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus) was not an original writer, but he was outstanding as an indefatiga­ble compiler.  In fact, his insatiable curiosity brought on his own death, for as he was observing the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE he came too close to the disturbance and was asphyxiated.  He created his major work, the Natural History, with the aid of a large library, the volumes being fetched by a gaggle of secretaries.  As an author, the elder Pliny was forthright about his borrowings. His pedantic notes on sources--most of them (like the works of Xenocrates of Sicyon, Antigonus of Carystus, and Duris of Samos) now lost--are a gift to modern philologists, enabling them to piece together much of their contents. 
In broad outlines the plan of the Natural History is as follows: Book 1, index and sources; 2, the universe; 3-6, geogra­phy; 7, man; 8-11, animals; 12-19, botany; 20-27, botany in medicine; 28-32, zoology in medicine; 33-37, metals and stones. Proceeding from the general to the specific, the arrangement does not, at first sight, lend itself to a discussion of works of art.  However, Pliny ingeniously inserts this topic towards the end, in the discussion of materials.  This placement might suggest that the Roman author limited himself to a discussion of technical proce­dures of quarrying and founding and the like--a severely "material­ist" approach--but in fact the variety of sources at his disposal drew him into more ambitious realms.xxxvii
In keeping with Greek cultural preferences Pliny places greatest emphasis on sculptors, who appear in the section on metals.  (Although most of the masterpieces of Greek sculpture are today known from marble copies, these generally derive from bronze prototypes, which have been lost.)  Pliny's sources enable him to single out six masters of the highest class: Phidias, Polyclitus, Myron, Pythagoras of Rhegion, Lysippus, and Praxiteles.xxxviii Notably these figures flourished in the fifth and fourth centuries; no Hellenistic (and no Roman) sculptors are allowed into the hallowed precincts of this winners' circle.  Remarkably, Pliny's cast of superstars has been largely endorsed by modern archaeologi­sts--with a significant addi­tion: Scopas (who is mentioned by Pliny else­where).  Apparently, the heightened emotionality of Scopas's work was uncongenial to Pliny's neoclass­ical taste.
Having singled out this pantheon of "past masters," whose work is regarded as beyond compare, Pliny proffers four more classes, each of them arranged in alphabetical order.xxxix  At 34:72-83 the Roman writer offers a roster of thirty-five notable sculptors from Alcamenes to Xenocrates, citing major works by each figure. Then follows (85) a concise enumeration of fifteen names, statuar­ies of equal fame who did not, however, distinguish themselves with a single memorable creation. Some of these individuals also worked as silver chasers and painters so that this dual activity was perhaps the reason why the list was originally drawn up. Then comes a third list of thirty-two worthies (86-90), confusingly described as consisting of those who made statues of the "same class." Finally comes a roster of twenty-six more sculptors (91), who made statues of athletes, armed men, hunters, and men sacrificing.
Pliny evidently experienced difficulty reconciling lists taken from various sources. Clearly the first alphabetical set of thirty-five is below the sextet of past masters, who are hors concours, and the second list, the first alphabetical one, comprises individuals who rank below the top class, if only because the members admitted into the first alphabeti­cal list succeeded in creating, in addition to their other merits, a single memorable work, How alphabetical lists two, three, and four are related is unclear.
              Pliny sought to integrate material purloined from various sources by setting up a class system reminiscent of Roman catego­ries of taxation. Had this aim been fully achieved, the reader would encounter at the top a tiny group of superstars, constituting the highest nobility, followed by four other classes, the first quite excellent though not sublime, the second of good quality, the third middling, and the last only adequate. 
Since Pliny has often been consulted as a source for information on many artists, it seems suprising that the system of ranking implicit in his work has been so little noticed.  To be sure, the presentation is confus­ing. The arrangement appears to be the imperfectly integrated deposit of several generations of aesthetic housekeeping, conducted by various earlier connoisseurs and collectors whose activity was a prerequisite to Pliny's ranking scheme.
As has been indicated, Pliny's arrangement of the six great masters shows that he had adopted the idea of progress based on gradual mastery of technical problems.xl He also has a concept of decline, for he asserts (Natural History, 34:52) that the art of sculpture ceased after the age of the great masters--that is, during the early part of the Hellenistic period in the third century B.C.xli  Pliny's censorious views fostered the disparage­ment of Hel­lenistic art that lingered until well into the twentieth century.  Apart from this dismissive view, reflecting the neoclassic taste that was rife in his time, the general pattern of Pliny's concept was influential. He formulated a kind of bell-curve notion: art ascends gradually from the rigid Archaic forms to an increasingly supple classicism, and then declines again in the emotionality and turbulence of the advancing Hellenistic period.  The idea of an acme or farthest upward point was already found in Aristotle, as has been seen, but that philoso­pher seems to have believed that a creative genre could continue indefinitely on the qualitative plateau that had been attained. Perhaps as a result of dishearten­ing events--the turmoil that enveloped the Greek world after the Peloponnesian War--later thinkers were more inclined to believe that decline must follow the achievement of the acme. In any event, this bell-curve scheme has had an enduring appeal, being applied not only to later European art, where Mannerism has often been perceived as a decline from the pinnacle of the High Renais­sance, but also, by some scholars, to Chinese art of the Ming and Qing dynasties and the Aztec art of Mexico.
           Pliny's taste impelled him to reject Hellenistic baroque sculpture because it had gone "too far." His notion that art should go so far and no farther may be rooted in a particular aspect of the Greco-Roman mindset. Reputedly, the temple at Delphi bore the inscription "nothing in excess." In his Nicomachean Ethics (Book 5) Aristotle offered a more sophisticated version of this idea. Seeking to define the quality of justice by its opposite, he held that injustice lies in the two extremes of excess and defect. Justice therefore is identified with the mean. Interestingly, injustice is also explained as being contrary to proportion, a key term in art as well as in philosophy. That the Romans were familiar with Aristotle's concept is shown by Horace's commendation of the "golden mean" (Odes, X, 5). Moreover, Pliny may have been influenced by a critical principle in rhetoric, a field often plundered by ancient writers on art for metaphors and compari­sons.xlii Writing just before Pliny's time, Dionysius of Halicar­nass­us extolled the austere Atticist tradition of oratory (corresponding to the Classical sculptures that form the main line of Pliny's account), while decrying the showy Asianist tradition that followed it.xliii In a revealing indication of neoclassical taste, Dionysius sees hope for Roman oratory as it seems to be returning to the path of Attic modera­tion. In sum, what Pliny and Dionysius both object to is what we would call Baroque art and writing, a style that seems to move the public by "pandering" to the emotions.
In agreement with the general trend represented by Dionysius, Pliny did not drop the matter with the decline (as many after him were to do, as they confronted their own decadence). The decline was not irreversible. This conclusion emerges if one returns to the full text of Pliny's remarks about the fate of sculpture. In 296-293, or not long thereafter, cessavit deinde ars, art came to an end; however, Pliny continues, ac rursus olimpiade CLVI revixit, it revived in 156-153 B.C. (Natural History 34:52). Thus the decline need not last forever; a new cycle could begin. In this way Pliny combined the bell curve model with a cyclical one; what seemed to be dead could be revived. The introduction of this motif of resurrec­tion probably reflects the cyclical concept of the Great Year, the appearance of which has been noted in the late works of Plato.xliv
Pliny's concept of revival seems to rest on two founda­tions. First, neoclas­sicists like Pasitiles had held that later Hellenis­tic art (after 156-153 B. C.) was meritorious even as the earlier work of that period was not. In fact modern archaeologists have detected a deliberate revival of Classical models in this later period ("neo-Attic art") and even of Archaic ones ("archa­izing art").xlv Such revivals attest a wish to return to earlier stan­dards, while rejecting the excesses of the recent past. Second, intellectuals in the circle of the emperor Augustus supported his claim to have restored the Golden Age; Vergil's Fourth Eclogue is the classic statement.xlvi If decline was a permanent condition, Augustus could not have hoped to undertake a renewal.
The theme of the restoration of art's integrity remains, nonethe­less, skeletal in Pliny. His relative silence about the accomplish­ments of the period of renewal suggests that he did not dare to believe that--even after more than two centuries had passed since the lifting of the curse--art had once more attained the heights of Greek Classi­cism of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. Hence, relative decline still prevailed, for the revival did not equal its predecessor. Perhaps he privately questioned whether the Romans, diffident as they were regarding their own powers as art produc­ers, could really preside over a complete revival of art. When all is said and done, however, a central element of Pliny's legacy remains his incorpo­ration into the history of art of the idea that one need not despair at the descent of the bell curve's trajectory, for a new ascending line might begin. Indeed, some modern art histori­ans, such as Henri Focillon, have adumbrated the idea that the universal course of art might consist of an open-ended series of such ascents and descents.xlvii
Pliny the Elder remains noteworthy for his contribution to an even broader trend: the Roman appropria­tion of Greek culture.  As the first "neoclassical" civilization, ancient Rome set the pattern for later ages of European culture, a pattern that prescribed a dual allegiance: to the values of one's own time and to the roster of previous hallmarks of achievement. 
The particular sort of art commentary Pliny produced seems to have had no real successor in the Roman empire. Nonetheless, Pliny's book was read in the Middle Ages, and his ideas about the great masters and their developmental sequence became a vital ingredient of the ideas that Renaissance art historians were to forge with regard to their own art.xlviii

Vitruvius Pollio, who lived during the first century B.C., was a Roman architect of modest gifts in the service of Julius Caesar and Octavian. Yet his fame has resounded across the centuries through his treatise De Architectura Libri Decem, which he wrote during his retirement.xlix Although earlier centuries of antiquity produced architectural writings, Vitruvius' is the only one to have survived. To judge from what little is known of them, the earlier texts mainly addressed special problems, including proportions and individual buildings. Vitruvius claims, probably correctly, to offer the first synthesis of the whole of architec­ture.
In summary, the contents of Vitruvius' treatise are as follows: education of the architect, aesthetic and technical principles, and parts of architecture (Book 1); origin of architec­ture and building materials (Book 2); temples, orders, proportions (Books 3-4); communal buildings including theaters (Book 5); private houses (Book 6); use of building materials, wall paintings, and color theory (Book 7); water and aqueducts (Book 8); cosmology and instruments for measuring time (Book 9); mechanics and technology (Book 10). Through­out the discussion it is evident that Vitruvius subscribed to the reverence for Greek precedent that characterized the Augustan age. His terminology is largely Greek, or translated from the Greek, producing confused wording that has perplexed commentators over the centu­ries. Admirer of the Hellenic that he was, Vitruvius neglects a number of categories of Roman architecture, such as warehouses and dining halls, where great advances in construc­tion using concrete were taking place, advances that arguably made Roman building one of the great accomplishments in the history of the world.
Book 1, chapter 1 offers a wonderful account of the elements of the architect's training. The architect must pay equal attention to fabrica (practical experience) and ratiocinatio (theory). He must be practiced in writing, geometry, and mathemat­ics. Optical knowledge is essential in order to assure proper lighting. Historical knowledge is important for the appropriate use of ornament. Philosophy, which also includes natural science, will shape the architect's character. Music theory is valuable not only for proportions but in assuring proper acoustics in theaters. A knowledge of medicine is needed so that the architect may site buildings for health. Finally the architect must be grounded in building law and astronomy. This catalog of accomplishments helped give later architects profes­sional self-confidence: the true architect, they believed, was a learned gentleman and not a mere craft worker.l
In the prologue to Book 7, Vitruvius conscientiously lists his sources, from writings by the architects Theodorus of Samos and Metagenes of Ephesus of the fifth century B.C. down to Hermogenes of the second century B.C. However, he provides no developmental history of architectural forms as evidenced by these writings, nor does he attempt to show how the theory of architec­ture itself evolved. At the beginning of Book 2 he offers an explanation of how the first houses appeared through the imitation of nature. He also gives accounts of the beginnings of the columnar orders. Typically, though, he fails to trace the subsequent develop­ment of these forms; we owe our knowledge of such matters to modern archaeology. Vitruvius' belief in the normative stability of architecture seems to have been conditioned by his belief (expressed in Book 9) that in its lawfulness architecture follows the order of the cosmos and the planets. This exalted notion allowed architects to compare their work with that of the creator ("architectus secundus deus"), but it did not foster the tracing of the historical development of architecture.
It is an ironic fact that Vitruvius' main contribution to the historiogra­phy of ancient art lies not in architecture in the strict sense of the word, but in painting. In Book 7 he gives an outline of the stages of mural decora­tions that enabled August Mau in 1882 to establish, by comparing Vitruvius' remarks with the remains in Pompeii, the four stages of Roman wall This interpre­tive scheme is still accepted today: "recent research ... has been able to confirm the basic validity of Mau's system by a detailed analysis of the incidence and combina­tions of the various patterns, motifs, and colour-schemes."lii
Appreciated among select circles during the Middle Ages, Vitruvius ascended to summit of prestige during the Renaissance.liii It has been justly remarked that it is impossible to under­stand architec­tural theory down to the middle of the nineteenth century without taking account of Vitruvius' De Architectura Libri Decem.liv Unfortunate­ly, however, his disregard for historical development infected Renaissance theorists who, beginning with Leon Battista Alberti (ca. 1404-1472), composed architectural treatises in a normative rather than historical mode. This emphasis on principles and norms served to retard the emergence of architectur­al history as a discipline. Still, as a practical guide Vitruvius, was consulted by countless Renaissance and Baroque architects who seem to have found in his very terminological obscurity the warrant to produce a wealth of solutions to problems of design. In compre­hend­ing the actual history of building in the Renaissance tradi­tion, then, one must reckon Vitruvius as a vital force.

Art Descriptions in Later Antiquity.
A standard feature of the rhetorical exercises prescribed for students in antiquity was the This was a descriptive speech intended to bring something vividly before the eyes; the object could be an event, a scene, or a work of art. Classical rhetorical manuals, and those of Byzantium following in their wake, discussed the ecphrasis (plural: ecphraseis) as part of the progymnasmata--graded composi­tion exercises designed to train pupils in the study of rhetoric. Mastery of the simpler tasks of narrative, common­place, encomion and ethopoea (an imagined speech) preceded the ecphrasis,
In his vivid characteriza­tion of the shield of Achilles (Iliad, 18, 467ff.) Homer created a model for the description of works of art, while in his account of the palace of Alcinous (Odyssey, 7: 81ff.) he foreshadowed many later architec­tural ecphraseis. In the second century of our era the satirical writer Lucian gave a description of the Calumny of Apelles, reputedly the great painter's response to the slander of fellow artists envious of his success.lvi This description was to enjoy a distinguished afterlife: beginning with Sandro Botticel­li, many European artists took Lucian's account as a program for their own paintings.
During the later Roman empire the description of imaginary works of art, generally paintings, came into vogue. The largest collection of these is the Imagines of Philostratus the Elder, who probably wrote in the third century of our era.lvii Goethe, who was fascinated by these descriptions, usefully divided them into nine categories: heroic, tragic subjects (as the deaths of Memnon, Hippolytus, and Hyacinth); amatory themes (as Pelops winning Hippodamia); birth and education (as the birth of Athena and Achilles brought up by Cheiron); deeds of Hercules; athletic contests; hunters and hunting (as Meleager and Atalanta); poetry, song, and dance (as Pan and Orpheus); landscapes and seascapes; and still life. Actually, these ecphraseis are arranged in a more casual order, and the writer gives no hint of how they might be placed in a stylistic sequence. For this reason, the "word paintings" of Philostratus (and the similar compositions of Philostratus the Younger and Callistratus) are chiefly significant as inspiration for artists in later times, and also as models for art histori­ans in the Renaissance tradition who wished to provide descriptions of works of art known to them.
In a variant of the ecphrastic tradition, buildings were evoked in the context of praising the rulers under whose reigns they were completed. This tradition continued to flourish during Byzantine times.lviii The Life of Constantine by the Church father Eusebius contains several descriptions of buildings, including the church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople and the Golden Octagon in Antioch.lix A remarkable assemblage of these is the work On the Buildings by Procopius of Caesarea, the court historian of Justinian in the sixth century.lx This work undertakes to memorialize all the noteworthy structures erected by the emperor, except those in the Latin West. The description of the Hagia Sophia in Constanti­nople, which emphasizes the effect on the observer, may be usefully compared with a contemporary one by Paul the Silenti­ary, which reviews the chronology of construction and the processional route.lxi
The final tradition to flourish in later antiquity was that of the guidebook. Pausanias, a Greek who lived in the second century of our era, wrote a Description of Greece in ten books arranged geographically, beginning with Attica and ending with Delphi.lxii He says very little about himself or of the hardships entailed by so much travel. Evidently, Pausanias was an educated man with an abundant supply of apt literary allu­sions.lxiii As a rule, he treats the history and then the topography of cities, proffering information on ritual customs and mythology as the opportunity presents itself. Writing in the days of Hellenic subjection to Rome, he was particu­lar­ly drawn to histori­cal, religious, and artistic testimonies of Greece's glory. A glance at Pausani­as' account of Sicyon in the Peloponnesus (2:5-11) illus­trates his narrative procedure. Following a peripatetic method retracing his own wanderings, he begins this segment with the journey from Corinth to Sicyon (about 26 miles), inter­rupting himself to recount the legendary history of the city. On its outskirts he notes a burial mound which he says is characteristic of Sicyonian funerary customs; another tomb boasted a remarkable painting ("if ever any picture was worth seeing, this one is"). He then proceeds to the Acropolis and the adjacent Theater of Dionysus. In addition to the statues on view, the shrine of Dionysus possesses others that are secret and are only brought out once a year in the dead of night. A visit to the hero's shrine of Aratus elicits an account of his deeds of valor. After touring some other sanctuar­ies, he mentions (all too briefly) statues of Heracles by Lysippus and Scopas. The appropriate shrines shelter gold and ivory statues of Asclepius and Aphrodite, by Calamis and Canachus respectively. Untiring in his application, Pausanias duly notes some concluding points of interest, and then sets out for Phlious.
Albeit innocent of sophisticated aesthetic ideas, Pausanias has supplied modern archaeologists with much useful information on the names of artists and on lost works. Absent other evidence, however, reading Pausanias would provide no idea of the sequence of Greek art. Yet for the modern art historian, all too accus­tomed to contemplate works of art in museums or in photograph­ic reproduc­tions, the value of the Description of Greece resides in the fact that he does show the works in situ through his peripatet­ic approach: Pausanias "walks you through" the ancient sites.
In the early fourth century, a new guide book trend was launched by the Spanish Christian lady Egeria, a pilgrim to the Holy Land and related areas in the Near East.lxiv Although the pilgrims were mainly interested in the religious significance of sites, their accounts provide valuable information about buildings that can be correlat­ed with data obtained by archaeology. For the West a remarkable guide is the so-called Codex Calixtinus of the twelfth century for travelers to the shrine of St. James at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.lxv The outstand­ing goal, however, was the city of Rome; many guidebooks to the eternal city, suffused with legend and fantastic detail, survive.lxvi
The new tastes inaugurated by the Renaissance directed interest back to classical monuments. This interest dominated in the guides to the grand tour undertaken mainly by English, French, and German travelers to Italy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.lxvii Offering travelers tips about local customs, these guides are perhaps as revealing for the works that are ignored than for those recommended. Ignored are not only medieval buildings and monuments but most Renaissance and Baroque ones; recommended are preeminently Greek and Roman remains. In this way European guidebooks offered their own complement to Pausanias.

Taken as a whole, the history of Greek and Roman civilization was a long one, lasting almost a millennium and a half. In Archaic and Classic Greece many factors served to slow the emergence of serious writing about art. The turning point came in the first century of the Hellenistic period when, dwarfed by the vast Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires, Greece itself and its heritage began to inspire retro­spective admiration. The still somewhat mysterious work of Xenocrates, who was both an artist and an art theorist-historian, launched a tradition that descended to the Romans. Pliny's incorporation of art historical materials into his Natural History also sums up a historical develop­ment: the appropriation of Greek Classicism for Roman purposes promoted by the emperor Augustus and continued by his succes­sors.
The Xenocrates-Pliny tradition bequeathed the idea of the history of art as a meaningful sequence to a Europe that revered classical antiquity. Carefully scrutinizing the sources, European philolo­gists extracted precious supplements from other authors, including Quintilian and Cicero, who compared the develop­ment of art with that of literature.
While the tradition of historical sequence remained available as a central organizing principle, many serious writers about art--in ancient times and later--have focused on other issues. Classical authors who did not subscribe to the histori­cal method, such as Vitruvius and Pausanias, have proved their value as major reposito­ries of informa­tion. Even today, the evidence that subsists in the writings of these two authors, and many others, must be carefully sifted in order to advance our knowledge of how the ancients under­stood their own art.

EXCURSUS. The first draft of this chapter was completed in 1992, twenty years ago.; it is undergoing revision.  In the interval Jeremy Tanner has published a monograph with similar scope.  While there is much of value in this book, in my view it often departs from the main topic, the historiography of art among the Greeks, in order to treat other issues that, while not lacking in intrinsic interest, nonetheless obscure the main narrative.  I will offer further observations on this book in due course.  In the meantime I am pleased to share an invaluable review by Balbina Baebler, which I reproduce from the Bryn Classical Mawr Review for 2006  (

Jeremy Tanner, The Invention of Art History in Ancient Greece. Religion, Society and Artistic Rationalisation.   Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2005.  Pp. xv, 331; b/w ills. 62.  ISBN 0-521-84614-5.  $99.00.   

Reviewed by Balbina Baebler, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen (

Questions about ancient art history, whether, when and how Greeks and Romans reflected on their art, so far have been the subject of only a few specialist articles by German archaeologists (mainly by B. Schweitzer in the 1930s and F. Preisshofen in the 1970s).
In the present book, Tanner (T.) offers an extensive treatment of the subject, for which he has set himself the very ambitious goal of providing new understandings of Greek art and its cultural and social implications. It is divided into six chapters: 1, an introduction about "Art and Society in Classical Art History" (1-30); 2, "Rethinking the Greek revolution: art and aura in an age of enchantment" (31-96); 3, "Portraits and society in classical Greece" (97-140); 4, "Culture, social structure and artistic agency in classical Greece" (141-204); 5, "Reasonable ways of looking at pictures: high culture in Hellenistic Greece and the Roman empire" (205-276); 6, "Epilogue: art after art history" (277-301).
The introduction provides a summary of classical art history (1-11) and outlines the concepts that were institutionalized in "modern high culture" mainly by Johann Joachim Winckelmann: the phases of development of art, analogies between literary and artistic style, and also "a culturally normative style of relating to works of art" (5). T. then gives a critical analysis of the challenges of the "Hellenist ideology" (mainly by the structuralists) and outlines his own methodology for understanding art (19-30). His goal is to provide tools for exploring what he calls the "tacit background," i.e., the institutional arrangements for the production and reception of art.
The second chapter is perhaps the most daring, not least because the so-called "Greek revolution" has already been explored so thoroughly. T. wants to develop new interpretative and explanatory strategies by analyzing "naturalism", whose emergence marks the boundary between the archaic and the classical periods, as a cultural system and asking "what does naturalism do as a functionally differentiated component of Greek religious culture?" (40). He therefore focuses first on classical statues of deities (38-55), whose specifically religious significance he thinks has been overlooked. During the archaic period the aristocratic elites, according to T., controlled and appropriated the sacred (55-70), and assimilated themselves, by giving the god-like ageless kouroi as votives, to the gods (62; an equally symbolic display was provided by family tombs: 65). T. analyzes iconography as a system (with the statues of Demeter and Kore as examples, 70-84) and concludes that the "presentational style of naturalism transformed the sensory ground of worshipper/viewer-deity interactions" (84; 89f.).
One may harbor doubts about T.'s interpretation of the changes at the end of the archaic period (outlined especially in the summary "causes and consequences", 92-96). The impact of Kleisthenes' reforms might well seem overstated: Were the old aristocratic gene really progressively displaced and marginalized (92)? Can we speak of the "overthrow" of the old aristocratic regime (94)? T. concludes that the "most obvious consequence of the Greek revolution was that motivational energies tied up in the legitimation of elite hierarchy were released for other purposes" (96). But the same old aristocratic families were still in charge long after the Kleisthenic reforms, and old religious associations (e. g., phratries) continued to flourish.1 It seems to me that many of the social changes that T. attributes to Kleisthenes and links directly with the Greek revolution unfolded only later: the Areopagus (93) lost its power only about two generations later, and it was only during the Peloponnesian War that people of non-aristocratic origins were able to assume leading political roles (and were still amply ridiculed in Attic Comedy precisely for their origins). I feel moreover uncomfortable with the above-mentioned analyses of interaction between viewer and statue and the claim that only naturalism invited the viewer to be a role partner (84f.). T. never mentions that the "aristocratic" kouroi very often bear inscriptions that directly invite the viewer to stay and look (and mourn, in the case of grave-markers).
Another reason why T.'s explanations fail to convince completely is that "naturalism" flourished also in those parts of the Greek world where oligarchic or aristocratic, regimes stayed in power. In my opinion the Persian Wars (which T. does not mention at all) were much more decisive for the development of civic consciousness, the feeling of identity of Greek citizens and their impact on artistic development.
Chapter 3 illustrates how the Greek revolution transformed not only the representation of gods, but also that of men; T. demonstrates by specifically Athenian examples the sociological interpretation of art as a cultural system developed in the earlier chapters. The author shows how the Greek revolution created a new secular representational space and a new type of image, the public honorific portrait (97-108). He demonstrates by several well-known portraits (Homer, Pindar, the tyrant-slayers, Pericles) that the Greek eikon has nothing to do with realistic portrait-likeness; the main aspect of Greek portraiture lies not in concerns with identity and the self, but in the prestige system of the polis, which is also a concept of "reward symbolism," for a civic portrait had to be debated and agreed upon by the boule and assembly. Portraits are expressions of particular social categories or roles (general, statesman, etc.); their facial features, bodies and gestures (116-134) were used to show values like self-control that are also attested in many contemporary sources as cardinal democratic values and equally important for public speech (121).
The complexity of the interactions between artistic and political development is stressed in the last part of the chapter, "Portraits and society" (134-140): portraits were brought into being by the democratic social order, but they also served to make and sustain it; "the very presence of portraits in public space fed into the political process" (140).
The fourth chapter seems to me a central (but also very complex) one: it is the most focused on the subject the title of the book announces. T. thinks he can advance the debate about role, status and autonomy of the artist in the Greek world that has been going on for about a century now by shifting its terms (again with the means of modern sociology of art) regarding the three concepts of status, role and agency (144). "Agency" means looking at actors within their structural, organizational and cultural environment, by which they are constrained, but also at the material and cultural resources (e.g. stylistic and iconographic schemata) upon which they draw to transform it. This concept leads--in T.'s opinion--to a better understanding of patterns of tradition and innovation.
T. shows how difficult it was to place any positive value on manual work (156-158), the pervading ideology being that of the "ideal citizen," a style of self-representation that artists also sought. This led to more theoretical reflection and writing (161), which in turn changed the artists' relationship to their work. The artists attempted a leap from the ranks of craftsmen to that of the intelligentsia, which shaped the contemporaneous civic life. This was also the beginning of producing art for aesthetic pleasure.
T. presents a convincing picture of the intellectual climate and the interactions between artists and intellectuals in classical Athens (158-182), which are visible, e.g., in the close parallels of the representation of the body in medicine and sculpture, works like the Doryphoros with its predilection for measurement and numbers (168), and, especially, in the emergence of theoretical artistic treatises that develop a critical vocabulary and show the increasing professionalization and scientific status of art.2
I am rather more skeptical towards the last two sections of this chapter (191-204) where T. suggests that "certain limits were placed on artists' attempts to enhance their status and their practical autonomy by the countervailing ideological commitments of the contemporary intellectual elite and by the material constraints of contemporary social structure" (149). Concerning the intellectual elite, he concentrates mainly on Plato and Aristotle; their and their predecessors' concepts he thinks stimulated the attempts of fifth- and fourth-century artists to rationalize their aesthetic practices (191); philosophers gave "new, rational grounds for traditional moral and ethical criteria for the judgment of art" (202). I am far from objecting to T.'s analysis of those philosophers' thoughts as such, but I would like to ask whether they were really of such enormous relevance for contemporary artists--or for the citizens of Athens at all. After all, Plato was an outsider totally at odds with his polis.
Chapter 5 explores the fundamentally different setting of art during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, when art history actually developed. Classical sculptures (or their copies) were disembedded from their original contexts, and a socially and culturally distinctive ethos of viewing emerged, which was characterized by an extensive formal aesthetic vocabulary, a knowledge of classical artists' names and of the history of classical fifth- and fourth century art (208f.) T. explores the deep shift in appropriation and display of art from a political and religious practice to an aesthetic one in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. This new interest in art as such led also to new practices as collecting (not least in Attalid Pergamon and Ptolemaic Alexandria: 205-212. 219-234), dealing, forging of old masters and touristic travelling. A comparable shift occurred also in art writing--examples are Xenocrates, Duris, Antigonos--, namely from artists writing for other artists to intellectuals, some of whom happened to be artists, writing for other men of culture (215), and working with similar tools as the poet scholars at the libraries in Alexandria and Pergamon, like alphabetical lists of painters and sculptors, lists of genres and those who worked in them. These are also used by Pliny, to whom T. devotes a section of this chapter (235-246).
Thus art became an "autonomous province of meaning" (233) and a central part of paideia, the culture of distinction (246-276). Several contemporary sources--Varro, Quintilian, Cicero, Pliny--indicate how a cultivated person should admire works of art: he (or she) has to master the formal aesthetic vocabulary of art criticism, to have a knowledge of art history, but also of the iconographic codes and of Greek mythology (248). This "rational sensibility" is also confirmed by its opposite, e.g. Trimalchio (249f.), or the emperor Tiberius, who, according to Pliny, "fell in love" with works of art (255-257), which goes equally against the philosophical ideal of the rational man. T. correctly stresses the importance of rhetorical knowledge and skills for a cultivated viewing as well as displaying of art (272f.).3
The epilogue focuses on the role and social status of artists in a society "after art history," mainly by looking at issues of copying and the concept of phantasia (283-294). T. shows how classical art was both distanced from the present and authoritative for it (288), so that the artist's main role now was to rationally adapt a given repertoire of forms and styles to the shifting requirements of patrons (298).
The various sections of the book leave behind an uneven impression. The main part of it is actually not about the invention of art history, but about Athenian society. The author obviously intends to trace the whole development of art and artists within their society from the beginning, but in my opinion the links he shows between the specifically Athenian polis and the Hellenistic centers where art history developed are not strong enough. Athens seems to be the representative model for archaic and classical Greek societies as a whole, but in fact research is often focused on Athens simply because we have more written sources there than elsewhere. Many of the sociological explanations about art and artists seem to me to break down as soon as you look at other parts of the Greek world. My main objection against the "sociological framework" is that it obliges us to link every stylistic development with changes or events in contemporaneous society, which in my opinion does not always work out, as e.g. in the case of the Kleisthenic reforms. It also leads to overly sophisticated interpretations of works of art (e.g. Lysippos' "Kairos", 180f.), because they all have to be an expression of contemporary social circumstances. Ascribing something simply to the genius or an idea of an inventive artist thus seems hopelessly outdated.4 To understand the arguments, one is sometimes required to have quite a lot of theoretical knowledge and the corresponding vocabulary of sociology; I wonder whether the average "student of classical art" at which the book is aimed is always up-to-date in these matters. However, the book is on the whole thoroughly interesting and stimulating; I think it is also a merit to provoke dissent. It will in any case further the discussion about role and status of art and artists in ancient Greece.


1.   See, e. g., R. Osborne, Greece in the Making 1200-479 BC (London 1996) 301 f. 313; P. Funke, Athen in klassischer Zeit (München 1999) 17, 25. 
2.   At this point the excellent book of Nadia J. Koch, Techne und Erfindung in der klassischen Malerei. Eine terminologische Untersuchung (München 2000), should have been mentioned, esp. pp. 57-122, where the author deals with the technical terminology developed in the workshops of classical time and with the rise of specialization. 
3.   On this subject see Nadia J. Koch, "SXHMA. Zur Interferenz technischer Begriffe in Rhetorik und Kunstschriftstellerei, International Journal of the Classical Tradition 6, 2000, 503-515, and ead., Bildrhethorische Aspekte der antiken Kunsttheorie, Jahrbuch Rhetorik Bd. 24, 2003, 1-13. 
4.   As to that, I think T. is sometimes very harsh in his judgment of earlier literature. To mention only a few examples: on p. 147 Ridgway's arguments are ranged among those that have "an extraordinarily primitive, undifferentiated character"; p. 143: Stewart concludes his essay "with a truly desperate argument"; p. 173 n. 128: Pollitt is "sociologically naive and ahistorical". 

i For a lively account of thirty-nine aspects of Sumerian priority, see Samuel Noah Kramer, History Begins at Sumer, 2nd ed., Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981.
ii For the limitations of Indian aesthetics, which was largely concerned with poetry and theater, see Raniero Gnoli, "Indian Aesthetics," Encyclopedia of World Art, V (1961), cols. 62-71. Gnoli's survey mainly utilizes texts from northern Indian and it may be that a focus on southern texts would produce a different picture. Of course, the introduction of Islam stimulated interest in Muslim artists, but this occurred many centuries after the character of the indigenous (Hindu) tradition was established. And Islamic commentary on the arts--while often negative--reflects a sophisti­cated stance that is post-Hellenic and post-Christian.
iii To the best of my knowledge credit for this insight goes to Joseph Alsop, The Rare Art Traditions: The History of Art Collecting and Its Linked Phenomena, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982, though he ascribes a more central role to art collecting than is recognized here.
iv See now David Freedberg, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. Freedberg points out that over time Judaism has scarcely been characterized by a consistent aniconism, or avoidance of images. It remains true, however, that a formal prohibition such as the Second Commandment would tend to discourage examination of art as an autonomous force.
v The Greek contribution to critical history and its influence have been much discussed. See, most recently, Arnaldo Momigliano, The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. In China it is generally recognized that the pivotal figure was Sima Qian (Ssu-ma Ch'ien, ca. 145-90 BCE): Thomas R. Martin, Herodotus and Sima Qian: The First Great Historians of Greece and China: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010; and Stephen W. Durrant, The Cloudy Mirror: Tension and Conflict in the Writings of Sima Qian, Albany : State University of New York Press, 1995.  See also G. E. R. Lloyd, Adversaries and Authorities: Investigations into Ancient Greek and Chinese Science, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, and Toby E. Huff, The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China, and the West, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. It is worth pondering Karl Jaspers' imaginative concept of an Achsenzeit, or axial epoch, linking the formative eras of the two civilizations (and several others) in the middle of the first millennium BCE. See his Origin and Goal of History, translated by Michael Bullock, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953.  See now Robert N. Bellah and Hans Joas, eds., The Axial Age and Its Consequences, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012.
vi This idea is generally traced to the saying attributed to Simonides of Ceos (ca. 556-468 B.C.) by Plutarch: "Painting is mute poetry, poetry a speaking picture." For the later permutations of this concept of the "sister arts" see Renssela­er W. Lee, Ut pictura poesis: The Humanistic Theory of Painting, New York: W. W. Norton, 1967.
vii On the roots of this tradition in the West, see Karl R. Popper, "Back to the Presocratics," in his Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, New York: Basic Books, 1963, pp. 136-65.
viii See Freedberg, op. cit., pp. 53-55. It is a curious fact that at the close of the classical era, in the sixth century of our era, this concept of images "not made by human hands" (acheiropoietai) recurred in Christian icons of the Justianian era; see Ernst Kitzinger, "The Cult of images in the Age Before Iconoclasm," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 8 (1954), 83-150.
ix For ancient evidence on Daedalus, see Sarah P. Morris, Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992. This volume emphasiz­es the Levantine (Near Eastern) origins of the Daedalus legend. For a study of later fortunes of the moving statue motif, see Kenneth Gross, The Dream of the Moving Statue, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1992 (though this volume curiously neglects Daedalus).
x Recent studies have emphasized the catalytic role of Egypt and the Near East in this development; for a broad-ranging analysis, see Walter Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992; followed by his Babylon, Memphis, Persepolis: Eastern Contexts of Greek Culture, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004.  A virtually exhaustive account of the literary evidence appears in M. L. West, The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.
xi The implications of the contrast of the two cult figures are brought out by C. J. Herington, Athena Parthenos and Athena Polias, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1955.
xii The distinctiveness of this monument, which commemorated two homosexual lovers, is stressed by Burkhard Fehr, Die Tyrannentöter, oder, kann man der Demokratie ein Denkmal setzen? Frankfurt: Fischer, 1984.
xiii New York: Pantheon, 1956.
xiv Andrew Stewart, Greek Sculpture: An Exploration, vol. 1, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990, p. 23.
xv The question of the meaning of artists' signatures, a practice integral to Western art down to the present, has rarely been addressed comprehensively. See, however, the special issue of Revue de l'art, 26 (1974).
xvi For the idea of intellectual property in relation to a new sense of personality, see the fundamental work of Hermann Fraenkel, Early Greek Poetry and Philosophy, trans. by Moses Hadas and James Willis, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.
xvii For modern explanations of the emergence of the classical style, see C. H. Hallett, "The Origins of the Classical Style in Sculpture," Journal of Hellenic Studies, 106 (1986), 71-84; and Richard Neer, The Emergence of the Classical Ideal in Greek Sculpture, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2110.   There is some useful material in Alice A. Donohue and  Mark D. Fullerton, eds., Ancient Art and its Historiography, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.  See also Alice A Donohue, Greek Sculpture and the Problem of Description, Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 2005
xviii Although his study needs some revision in matters of detail, Otto J/ Brendel's "Prolegomena to a Book on Roman Art" (Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 21 (1953), 9-73), remains an exemplary account of the way in which changing modern aesthetic orientations have stimulated new insights into the art of an earlier era. See also the separate publication, Prolegomena to the Study of Roman Art, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979.
xix The leading ancient testimonia are conveniently gathered in Jerry Jordan Pollitt, The Art of Ancient Greece: Sources and Documents, new ed., New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990 (this book also offers useful bibliography of secondary sources). A more extensive collection of relevant original Greek and Latin texts (without translations) appears in Johannes Overbeck, Die antiken Schrift­quellen zur Geschichte der bildenden Künste bei den Griechen, Leipzig: Engel­mann, 1868 (repr. Hildeshei­m: Olms, 1959). For recent scholar­ship on the leading masters, see Stewart, Greek Sculpture.
xx Lucian, Greek text with English trans. by A. M. Harmon, vol. III, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1947, pp. 13-33.
xxi For a judicious survey of opinion on Plato's stance towards the arts, see Eva C. Keuls, Plato and Greek Painting, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1978, who however concludes, in contrast to many earlier writers and this one, that Plato had a relatively favorable opinion of the art of his own day.
xxii For the Greek origins of this controversial and complex notion, see Goran Sorbom, Mimesis and Art: Studies in the Origin and Early Development of an Aesthetic Vocabulary, Stockholm: Bonniers, 1966.
xxiii The origins of this concept are traced by J. J. Pollitt, The Ancient View of Greek Art: Criticism, History, and Terminology, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974. Some of the later permutations appear in Erwin Panofsky, Idea: A Concept in Art Theory, trans. Joseph J. S. Peake, New York: Harper & Row, 1968.
xxiv The exploitation of shading techniques is discussed in Vincent J. Bruno, Form and Color in Greek Painting, London: Thames and Hudson, 1977, esp. pp. 23-30.
xxv Plato's Philebus, translated with an introduction and commentary by R. Hackforth, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.
xxvi The locus classicus of this interpretation of Plato is Karl Popper's still controversial The Open Society and Its Enemies, vol. 1, London: Routledge, 1945.
xxvii The discussion that follows relies largely on E. R. Dodds, The Ancient Concept of Progress and Other Essays on Greek Literature and Belief, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973, pp. 1-25.
xxviii The problem of the four colors is discussed in relation to surviving examples by Bruno, op. cit., p. 53ff.
xxix Pollitt, Art of Ancient Greece, p. 223.
xxx "Xenokrates von Athen," Schriften der Konigsberger Gelehrten Gesellschaft, Geisteswissenschaftliche Klasse, 9 (1932), 1-52 (reprinted in Schweitzer, Zur Kunst der Antike, I, Tübingen: Wasmuth, 1963, pp. 105-64).
xxxi The essential work of sorting out the copies of the works of the leading masters was accomplished a century ago by Adolf Furtwängler, Masterpieces of Greek Sculpture, New York: Scribner, 1895.
xxxii Andreas Linfert attempts to solve the Pythagoras problem by suggesting, in my view unconvincingly, that the material on him is an intrusion from another source, Duris ("Pythagoras und Lysipp--Xenokrates und Duris," Rivista di Archeologia, 2 (1978), 23-28.
xxxiii See Rosalind Thomas, Oral Tradition and Written Record in Classical Athens, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989; and, more generally, William V. Harris, Ancient Literacy, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989.
xxxiv Alsop, Rare Art Traditions, p. 192, attempts a reconstruction of the highlights of Attalus's collection.
xxxv Margarete Bieber, Ancient Copies, New York: New York Universi­ty Press, 1977.
xxxvi See J. J. Pollitt, Art in the Hellenistic Age, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986; G. O. Hutchinson, Hellenistic Poetry, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988; and Barbara Hughes Fowler, The Hellenistic Aesthetic, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.
xxxvii Still a standard source for this material is the annotated bilingual text of E. Jex-Blake and E. Sellers, The Elder Pliny's Chapters on the History of Art, London, 1896. The 1977 reprint of Ares Publishers in Chicago contains some additional secondary bibliography compiled by Raymond V. Scholder. Many relevant issues are treated in Jacob Isager, Pliny on Art and Society: The Elder Pliny's Chapters on the History of Art, New York: Routledge, 1991.  See also Sorcha Carey, Pliny's Catalogue of Cultures: Art and Empire in the Natural History, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
xxxviii Some writers (e.g. William D. E. Coulson, "The Reliability of Pliny's Chapters on Greek and Roman Sculpture," The Classical World, 69 (1976), 361-72) exclude Praxitel­es from the list of insignes. This omission would seem logical since Xenocrates, who concluded the sequence with his countryman Lysippus, did not so honor Praxitiels. However, since he is discussed at some length before the alphabeti­cal listings, it seems that Pliny, following other sources, assimilated him to the top class.
xxxix Significantly, alphabetization of lists became important only with the Alexandrian scholars of the early Hellenistic era--contemporaries of Xenocrates. See Lloyd W. Daly, Contributions to a History of Alphabetization in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Collection Latomus, 90), Brussels: Latomus, 1967. Since the lists are in the order of the Latin alphabet--with artists whose Greek names begin with Kappa or Chi placed under the letter C--the lists may not have originated with Xenocrates, or if they did may have been supplemented as the order was rearranged to suit the Latin sequence of letters.
xl This he inherited from the Xenocratic tradition, though he sometimes shifted the emphasis more towards aesthetic criteria.
xli In the days of Alexander the Great (d. 322) wonderful artists still flourished, according to Pliny. In the 121st Olympiad (296-93 B.C.) there were six artists worth mentioning: Eutychies, Euthycrates, Laippus, Cephisodotus, Timarchus, and Pyromachus (Jex-Blake and Sellers, eds., pp. 40-41). At some point past this date the stagnation began. The period from 322 to 275 was marred by the destruc­tive wars of Alexander's successors, the Diadochi, for the possession of his kingdom; it was this prolonged period of civil strife that presumably put an end to the efflorescence of the art of sculpture. Modern archaeological finds tell a different story; for a review of recent, positive scholarship, see Beryl Barr-Sharrar, "On Hellenis­tic Sculpture," The New Criterion, 11:4 (December 1992), 42-47.
xlii Felix Preisshofen has drawn attention to a passage in Quintilian (Institutio oratorica, X, 1, 73ff.), where the disci­pline of historiography is said to have "left off" (intermissam) in the early Hellenistic period, and to have revived later under classicistic auspices ("Kunsttheorie und Kunstbetracht­ung," in Le Classicisme à Rome aux Iers siècles avant et après J.C. {Entretiens sur l'antiquité classique, 25), Geneva: Fondation Hardt, 1979, pp. 262-82. Preisshofen maintains that the triadic sequence--advance, disappearance, revival--was first formulated by rhetoricians and then transferred, as early as the middle of the second century, to the visual arts by artists and connoisseurs. He holds this classicistic theory responsible for the dessication of a (presum­ably) once-rich art literature, only portions of which survived into Roman times.
xliii For the Atticist-Asianist contrast, see Thomas Gelzer, "Klassizismus, Attizismus, und Asianismus," Le Classicisme, pp. 1-56.
xliv Some have characterized the cyclical concept as the Greco-Roman view of history; see, e.g., Karl Löwith, Meaning in History, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949, pp. 6-8, 160-64. However, Arnaldo Momigliano has shown that this view is one-sided, for the ancients had several models of historical development at their disposal: "The Origins of Universal History," On Pagans, Jews, and Christians, Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1987, pp. 31-57.
xlv Christine M. Havelock, "The Archaic as Survival Versus the Archaistic as a New Style," American Journal of Archaeology, 69 (1965), 331-40.
xlvi See discussion in Vergil, Eclogues, ed. Robert Coleman, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977, pp. 129ff. On the artistic harvest of Augustus' program of cultural renewal, see Paul Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, trans. by Alan Shapiro, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988.
xlvii Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art, trans. by George Kubler, new ed., Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992.
xlviii On Pliny the Elder in the Middle Ages, see Marjorie Chibnall, "Pliny's Natural History in the Middle Ages," in Thomas Alan Dorey, ed., Empire and Afermath: Silver Latin II, London: Routledge, 1975, pp. 57-78; and L. D. Reynolds, "The Elder Pliny," in L. D. Reynolds, ed., Texts and Transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983, pp. 307-16. His influence over the Renaissance historiography of art is discussed in Chapter Five, below.
xlix Vitruvius, On Architecture, ed. and trans. by Frank Granger, 2 vols., Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1931-34.
lSpiro Kostof, ed., The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession, New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
li August Mau, Geschichte der decorativen Wandmalerei in Pompeji, Berlin: Reimer, 1882.
lii Roger Ling, Roman Painting, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 3.
liii Herbert Koch, Vom Nachleben des Vitruv, Baden-Baden: Verlag für Kunst und Wissenschaft, 1951; Carol Herselle Krinsky, "Seventy-eight Vitruvius Manuscripts," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 30 (1967), 36-70; Georg Germann, Einführung in die Geschichte der Architekturtheorie, 2nd ed., Darmstadt: Wissens­chaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1987.
liv Hanno-Walter Kruft, A History of Architectural Theory from Vitruvius to the Present, Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1994, p. 21. This book offers an invaluable account of the whole history of European and American architecture theory.
lv Glanville Downey, "Ekphrasis," Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, 4 (1959), cols. 921-44.
lvi David Cast, The Calumny of Apelles: A Study in the Humanistic Tradition, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981; Jean-Michel Massing, Du texte à l'image: la Calomnie d'Apelle et son iconogra­phie, Strasbourg: Presses Universitaires, 1990.
lvii Philostratus the Elder/the Younger, Imagines; Callistratus, Descriptions, ed. and trans. by Arthur Fairbanks, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1931. The Greek-German edition prepared by Otto Schönberger (Philostratos, Die Bilder, Munich: Ernst Heimeran, 1968) contains an extensive introduction and notes. See also the important article of Karl Lehmann-Hartleben, "The Imagines of the Elder Philos­tratus," Art Bulletin, 23 (1941), 16-44.
lviii Henry Maguire, Art and Eloquence in Byzantium, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981; idem, "The Art of Comparing in Byzantium," Art Bulletin, 70 (1988), 88-103; Liz James and Ruth Webb, "'To Understand Ultimate Things and Enter Secret Places': Ekphrasis and Art in Byzantium," Art History, 14 (1991), 1-17.
lix H. A. Drake, In Praise of Constantine: A Historical Study and New Translation of Eusebius' Tricennial Orations, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.
lx Procopius, Buildings, ed. and trans. by H. B. Ewing and Glanville Downey, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940. See Averill Cameron, Procopius and the Sixth Century, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, pp. 84-112.
lxi Paul Friedländer, Johannes von Gaza und Paulus Silentiarius: Kunstbeschreibungen justinianischer Zeit, Leipzig: Teubner, 1912.
lxii Pausanias, Description of Greece, edited and translated by W. H. S. Jones, 4 vols., Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1918-35.
lxiii Christian Habicht, Pausanias' Guide to Ancient Greece, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.
lxiv E. D. Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage in the Later Roman Empire AD 312-460, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982; John Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades, Warminster, Eng.: Aris & Phillips, 1977. More generally see Jean Richard, Les récits de voyages et de Pèlerinages, Turnhout, Belgium, Brepols, 1981 (Typologie des Sources du Moyen-Âge Occidental, 38).
lxv Alison Stones, ed,, The Pilgrim/s Guide to Santiago de Compostela: A Critical Edition.  2 vols London: Harvey Miller, 1998.
lxvi Ludwig Schudt, Le Guide di Roma: Materialien zu einer Geschichte der römischen Topographie, Vienna: Benno Filser Verlag, 1930.
lxvii See the classic account by Ludwig Schudt, Italienreisen im 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, Vienna: Schroll, 1959. Note also John Stoye, English Travelers Abroad 1604-1667, rev. ed., New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989; and Jeremy Black, The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

No comments:

Post a Comment