A lecture on ancient Greek painting was lately delivered by Professor C.T. Newton, C.B., at University College, London. The lecturer began by reminding his audience of the course of lectures on Greek sculpture, from the earliest times to the Roman period, which he completed this year. The main epochs in the history of ancient sculpture had an intimate connection with the general history of the Greeks, with their intellectual, political, and social development. We could not profitably study the history of ancient sculpture except as part of the collateral study of ancient life as a whole, nor could we get a clear idea of the history of ancient sculpture without tracing out, so far as our imperfect knowledge permits, the characteristics and successive stages of ancient painting. Between these twin sister arts there had been in all times, and especially in Greek antiquity, a close sympathy and a reciprocal influence. The method in dealing with the history of Greek painting in this course would be similar to that adopted in the course on sculpture. The evidence of ancient authors as to the works and characteristics of Greek painters would be first examined, then the extant monuments which illustrate the history of this branch of art would be described.

In the case of painting, the extant monuments were few and far between, but we might learn much by the careful study of the mural paintings from the buried Campanian cities, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and those found in the tombs near Rome and Etruria. The paintings on Greek vases would enable us to trace the history of what is called ceramographic art from B.C. 600 for nearly five centuries onward.

After noticing the traditions preserved by Pliny and others as to the earliest painters, the lecturer passed on to the period after the Persian war. Polygnotos of Thasos was the earliest Greek painter of celebrity. He flourished B.C. 480-460. At Athens he decorated with paintings the portico called the Stoa Poikile, the Temple of the Dioscuri, the Temple of Theseus, and the Pinakotheke on the Akropolis. At Delphi he painted on the walls of the building called Lesche two celebrated pictures, the taking of Troy and the descent of Ulysses into Hades. All these were mural paintings; the subjects were partly mythical, partly historical. Thus in the Stoa Poikile were represented the taking of Troy, the battle of Theseus with the Amazons, the battle of Marathon. In the Temple of Theseus came the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs and the battle of the Amazons again. In the other two Athenian temples he treated mythological subjects. These great public works were executed during the administration of Kimon, to whom Polygnotos stood in the same relation us Phidias did to Perikles, the successor of Kimon. The paintings in the Stoa Poikile were executed by Polygnotos gratuitously, for which service the Athenians rewarded him with the freedom of their city.

His greatest and probably his earliest works were the two pictures in the Lesche at Delphi. Of these there was a very full description in Pausanias. The building called Lesche was thought to have been of elliptical form, with a colonnade on either side, separated by a wall in the middle, and to have been about 90 ft in length. The figures were probably life size.

According to the list given by Pausanias, there were upward of seventy in each of the two pictures. In that representing the taking of Troy Polygnotos had brought together many incidents described in the Cyclic epics: Menelaos Agamemnon, Ulysses, Nestor, Neoptolemos, Antenor, Helen, Andromache, Kassandra, and many other figures, with which the Homeric poems have made us familiar, all appeared united in one skillful composition, arranged in groups. The other picture, the descent of Ulysses into Hades to interrogate Teiresias, might be called a pictorial epic of Hades. On one side was the entrance, indicated by Charon's boat crossing: the Acheron, and the evocation of Teiresias by Ulysses, besides the punishment of Tityos and other wicked men; on the other side were Tantalos and Sisyphos. Between these scenes, on the flanks, were various groups of heroes and heroines from the Trojan and other legends. From the remarks of ancient critics, it might be inferred that the genius of Polygnotos, like that of Giotto, was far in advance of his technical skill.

Aristotle called him the most ethical of painters, and recommended the young artist to study his works in preference to those of his contemporary Pauson, who was ignobly realistic, or those of Zeuxis, who had great technical merit, but was deficient in spiritual conception. The course will comprise four more lectures, as follows - November 17, "Greek Painters from B.C. 460 to Accession of Alexander the Great B.C. 336 - Apollodoros, Zeuxis, Parrhasios, Pamphilos, Aristides;" November 24, "Greek Painters from Age of Alexander to Augustan Age - Apelles, Protogenes, Theon;" December 1, "Pictures on Greek Fictile Vases;" December 15, "Mural Paintings from Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other Ancient sites."

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