« PreviousContinue »
clad lightly, but ideally, and in keeping with her large wings, which also in those days would have combined long, powerful pinions with small, finely chased feathers. Compare the drapery on her body with that of the Victory of Olympia, and we see at once where the higher ideal comes in. Indeed, on the left side of the Victory of Olympia the dress is treated in a very indifferent manner, which perhaps may be excused by the fact that Paeonios, the sculptor, was obliged, in the circumstances, to produce an impressive and striking figure alone on a lofty pedestal.
With regard to the great gap in the centre of the pediment, we have already said that several of the missing statues can be imagined with reasonable certainty ; in the very centre, Zeus, Athenė, Victory, and Hephaestos (or Prometheus). It is almost beyond doubt that Zeus had been seated facing the right, and that Athenè was before him, while behind him Hephaestos was hurrying away after cleaving the head of Zeus with his axe. There remains room for six more figures, of whom we are told, on the present-day evidence of the bed of the pediment, that two had been seated, one on each side of the centre group, the others having been standing, two on each side. But valuable as this evidence from the actual bed or floor of the pediment may yet become with increased knowledge from other sources, no satisfactory result is to be obtained from discussing it now. That, we think, will be evident from the attempts of Professor Furtwaengler. His scheme may prove to be in some parts right, in others wrong.
But we cannot think that his notion of the Athenè in the very centre can be right. Allowing
1 On page 29 of his Intermezzi.
that on her own temple the most conspicuous place of all was her due; yet it was her birth from the brain of her father, Zeus, that was the dominant feature of the composition, not alone her own personality. From Furtwaengler's point of view we can well understand his choosing for the very centre a stately Athenè like the marble statue in the École des Beaux Arts in Paris,' and pushing Zeus to the side. But we think his notion radically wrong, and certainly the Paris statue, dignified as she is, is far beneath the Parthenon sculptures.
While declining to discuss here speculative reconstructions of the east pediment, we, on the other hand, readily welcome them when they are carried out on artistic principles, so as to exhibit the dominating effects of the central deities over the secondary groups in the angles. For example, it may now be said that Cockerell's reconstruction is fantastic in some important respects, yet with the instincts of a true artist he shows this relationship of the several parts of the composition, and that is the first thing we require. He had as his guide the west pediment, which he knew from Carrey's drawings. We have in addition the example of the east pediment of Olympia.
To conclude with a technical matter : at a number of points on the sculptures of both pediments, especially the east, there may be seen patches of a golden colour. These patches are found in places which have been sheltered more or less from the weather, and may therefore be regarded as preserving the original surface of the marble, which elsewhere has been eaten away. One of the most noticeable of these occurs under the left leg of Theseus (or Cephalos). It appears that the sculptures had been covered originally with a thin wash or size of lime, so thin and transparent that in places we can see the finest tool-marks through it. Probably that was what the ancients called circumlitio. A surface of this kind would be far more suitable than the marble itself for the addition of colours on the borders of the draperies and other details, and there is no question now that bright colours were freely employed on archaic Greek sculptures, as on the friezes of Delphi and the archaic pediments and statues of the Acropolis of Athens. Remains of bright colouring were found on the pediment sculptures of Olympia, and to take a much later example, on the sculptures of the Mausoleum. We do not, however, suppose that the golden tint now visible on the Parthenon sculptures represents the original colour. More probably the original colour was an ivory white, intended at once to tone down the harsh surface of the marble, and to be a facile medium for details painted in bright hues.
1 Intermezzi, p. 17. This is the marble known as the Torso Medici. Since his theory was announced two more copies of the same original have been recognised in the Court of the
House of Pilate in Seville. They are published with their hideous restorations in the Jahresheften des Oesterr. Arch. Inst., 1899, pls. 2, 3.
Museum Marbles, vi. pl. 21.