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ART. II. Philosophie der Schönen Künste : Architektur,

Sculptur, Malerei, Musik, Poesie, Prosa. Von ERNST VON LASAULX. München: Literarisch-Artistische Anstalt der J. G. Cotta’schen Buchhandlung. 1865. [Philosophy of the Fine Arts. By ERNST VON LASAULX.]


NOTWITHSTANDING their creative activity as an artistic people, the Greeks did not philosophize deeply about art. Indeed, they were habitually inexact in all their classifications. Aristotle, for example, makes zoology, medicine, &c. branches of philosophy, and puts them in the same category with metaphysics. As regards the arts, he assumes that they are all imitations, and from this stand-point inquires, first, by what means the imitation is produced (form, color, tone, or word); secondly, what objects are imitated (emotions, actions, &c.); and, thirdly, in what manner these objects are imitated. But he does not inform us what particular arts he would place under these several heads. He lays the foundation of a classification, but rears no superstructure upon it. Cicero divides the arts into silent (quasi mutæ artes), and speaking (oratio et lingua); the former are sculpture and painting, the latter are poetry and eloquence. Quintilian, applying to the arts the Aristotelian classification of the sciences, throws them into three groups: the theoretical (astronomy and philosophy); the practical (strategy, oratory, and dancing); and the poetical, comprising architecture, sculpture, and painting. These latter he also calls creative arts (artes effectivæ). In like manner the Neoplatonic Plotinus divides them, first, into imitative arts, sculpture, painting, and dancing, which imitate forms and motions, and music, which imitates the innate harmonies of the human soul ; secondly, the practical arts, architecture and carpentry, which are expressions of the indwelling symmetry of the soul; and, thirdly, the theoretical arts, or those which are of a more ideal nature, such as geometry, poetry, oratory, and, highest of all, philosophy. The vice of these classifications obviously springs from the vagueness of the Greek and Latin terms which we are forced to translate by “ the arts."

If now we turn to modern art-criticism, we find it equally ar

bitrary and unsatisfactory. Dante (De Monarchia, II.) remarks that art is conditioned by three things, – the spirit of the artist, the instrument which he employs, and the material in which he works; but he makes no distribution of the arts under this genoral principle. Kant (Kritik der Urtheilskraft, $ 51) makes expression the basis of his classification. First, the speaking arts, poetry and eloquence; the latter of these treats a business of the understanding as if it were a free play of the imagination, whereas the former conducts a free play of the imagination as if it were merely a business of the understanding. Secondly, the formative arts, of which there are two subdivisions, those which are expressed in accordance with the truth of the senses (Sinnenwahrheit), comprising architecture and sculpture (die Plastik), and those which rest on an illusion of the senses (Sinnenschein), including painting and landscape-gardening. Thirdly, the art of the beautiful play of the emotions, or music. Solger (Aesthetik, p. 257) assumes five fine arts, which he divides into two groups, viz. Poesy and Art (Kunst). The former he regards as the universal art, embracing in itself all the others. The latter he subdivides into symbolical (architecture and sculpture) and allegorical (painting and music). Hegel looks at art from different points of view, and gives a classification as seen from each. Historically considered he distinguishes three principal forms : the symbolical, or the art-pantheism of the Orient, the classical art of the Greeks and Romans, and the romantic art of the Christian nations of Western Europe. Again he speaks of the external art (architecture), the objective art (sculpture), and the subjective arts (painting, music, and poetry). Or if we consider the sense to which the art appeals, we have architecture, sculpture, and painting, which appeal to the eye ; music, which is addressed to the ear; and poetry, which speaks to the imagination. Or, finally, distributing them into two groups, we have architecture and sculpture, which present the objective, and painting, music, and poetry, which express the innerness (Innerlichkeit) of the subjective. Cousin places painting above sculpture and music, because it is more pathetic than the former and clearer than the latter, and expresses the human soul in a greater richness and variety of its sentiments. Poetry he calls the art par excellence. Architecture and gardening he puts to

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gether in one category, as the least free and lowest of the arts. It seems to us, however, more natural, following Kant's distribution, to associate gardening with painting, inasmuch as it is governed by the laws of perspective, and is picturesque rather than architectural. Fergusson divides the arts into three classes, - technic, æsthetic, and phonetic. The technic culminate in upholstery, the æsthetic in music, and the phonetic in eloquence. On this basis he erects a labyrinthian superstructure through whose “wandering mazes” we have no disposition to conduct our readers.

It must be obvious to every one that all these classifications are more or less determined by a priori considerations, instead of being deduced from the nature and genesis of the arts and the law that controls their development. Every classification is imperfect, in so far as it is artificial. It is essential, therefore, to pursue a new method, to throw aside dogmatism and appeal to history, to study the arts in the process of their growth, and to adopt the arrangement into which we find them drawn by their natural affinities. The proper application of this method would render it necessary to trace the rise and progress of each art, and to show how the varying forces of nature, civilization, and social life have operated in developing and modifying man's artistic faculty ; but this discussion is too broad for our present limits, and we must rest satisfied with a mere statement of the results to which such an investigation would lead.

By the fine arts, then, we mean architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, and prose. These may be divided into two equal groups.

The first three, architecture, sculpture, and painting, address themselves to the eye, speaking to it in the dialect of form; they may therefore be called the arts of formal representation, - formative or imaging arts. The last three, music, poetry, and prose, address themselves to the ear, and may be termed the arts of oral representation, or speaking arts. We have enumerated them in the order of their logical relations and of their chronological development. The first of the fine arts in point of time, and the lowest as a means of expression, is architecture ; the last in time and the highest in expressiveness is prose. This classification corresponds to the historical growth of Grecian art. Art is originally an emanation of re

ligious feeling. It springs from man's spiritual wants, which first seek expression in a rude symbolism. No pre-Hellenic people ever advanced beyond these religious beginnings of art. Such are the colossal temples of India, filled with gigantic images, monstrous in shape and yet every limb and lineament symbolical of certain divine attributes; also the monumental architecture of Egypt, massive and gloomy pyramids, obelisks emblematic of sacrificial flames, and all those stupendous structures that fringe the Nile from the Nubian desert to the Mediterranean. The Greeks were the first to idealize this symbolism and inspire it with a new principle, to modify it by intellectual and ästhetic culture, and melt it into a new metamorphosis, in which the sentiment of beauty blended with that of religion.

The six arts of which we have made mention rise one above the other, in a regular series ; sculpture is higher than architecture, painting is higher than sculpture, music stands above painting, poetry above music, and prose is the highest art of all. It will be observed, also, that in the exact ratio of the increase of the spiritual content of these arts there is a decrease of materiality in the form. In nature we see a progress from the inorganic to the organic, from organogens to living organisms, from the general substances and elementary bodies of chemistry to the special phenomena of physics, from the coral to the plant, from the plant to the animal, and from the animal to man; each“ striving to ascend, and ascending in its striving.” The stone or the metal, in its highest form of crystal, mimics the delicacy of the flower; the flower, with its organic functions and motions and the variegated plumage of its petals, is assimilated to the butterfly that hovers on free wings above it; and in the social life and cunning instincts of the bee, the bird, the ant, and the spider are typically foreshadowed the intelligence and moral affections of man. Each of these in the rising scale of creation is the realization of that which is below it, and the mute prophecy of that which is above it. In like manner there is a progress in art from architecture to sculpture, from sculpture to painting, from painting to music, from music to poetry, and from poetry to prose.

All these have their root in a common sentiment; they are all manifestations of religious feeling working through the imagination, and there is no instance on record of supreme excellence in art, except in times of religious enthusiasm or among a people distinguished for religious sensibility. Art first built a temple to the gods, consecrated it with their images, beautified it with pictures of sacred scenes out of their lives, celebrated their praises in music and poetry, and, finally, recorded the fact and philosophized about it in prose. Thus in all its forms and creations it is but an expression of this first, deepest, and holiest emotion of the human soul.

The theory enunciated by Vitruvius and recently by Hope, and tacitly assumed by Ruskin, that architecture had its origin in the rude efforts of man to shelter himself from the inclemencies of the sky, is not only false in principle, but at variance with fact. The hut of the shepherd, the tent of the nomad, the wigwam of the savage, and the cave of the troglodyte, which have been regarded as so many germs of architecture, have really no more connection with it than the den of the tiger or the lair of the wolf. It was from the impulse of religious feeling, and not under the stimulus of physical wants, that man became an architect. The temple is older than the house. Indeed, such a thing as domestic architecture was unknown previous to the Roman Empire. According to the old Hebrew legend, Adam built an altar to God before he put a roof over his own head. The earliest and rudest structures now existing on the face of the earth were dedicated to deities.

Much misconception will be avoided if we remember that a temple is not necessarily an edifice. This may be its accidental form, but does not constitute its distinctive character. It is essentially, as the etymology implies, (TéuveLv, to cut off or set apart,) a consecrated spot, like that where Noah offered sacrifice when he issued from the ark. The hollow cedar containing a rudely carved image of the Arcadian goddess, of which Pausanias (VIII. 13. 2) speaks, was as much a temple as the Parthenon or the Pantheon. Indeed, the first temples seem to have been hollow trees in which images were placed: the Dodonean Jupiter dwelt in a beech, the Ephesian Diana in an elm, and it was not until 600 B. C. that she was honored with a temple in marble ; and among the Germanic nations of Northern Europe, we find that the three gods of the ancient Prussians

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