Sculpture (Lat. sculpere, to cut out, to carve), literally, the art of cutting or carving any substance into images. The term is used generally to indicate any process by which the forms of objects are represented by solid substances, and therefore includes carving, modelling, casting, whether in metal or other materials, and gem engraving. Sculptured images consist either of insulated figures or parts of figures or groups, technically called the "round;" of figures attached to a background, from which they are more or less raised, and designated according to the degeee of the "relief," as it is termed, alto rilievo, basso rilievo, and mezzo rilievo; or of figures which, without projecting from the face of the original ground, have their outlines sunk into it, and are rounded on the principles of basso rilievo. This method of working occurs chiefly in Egyptian sculpture, and may be termed relieved intaglio. The materials employed by the sculptor include almost every substance capable of being carved, cast, or moulded. For carving, porphyry, basalt, granite, marbles of many varieties, alabaster, ivory, bone, and wood have been in use from a remote period, the three first named substances being those used by the Egyptians, while the Greeks and Romans worked chiefly in marble.
Of the latter material, that most esteemed by the ancients was the pure white marble found in the island of Paros, and thence called Parian, next to which in quality was that procured from Mounts Pen-telicus and Hymettus in the neighborhood of Athens. The finest Italian marble was the Carrara, which still maintains its old celebrity; but many Roman sculptors wrought from marbles procured in Africa. The finest marbles in modern use are from Italy. Alabaster sculpture is best illustrated by specimens exhumed at Nineveh. Wood was chiefly employed in the primitive stages of the art, and the kinds most in vogue were oak, cedar, cypress, sycamore, pine, box, fig, and ebony. Few works of this description are extant, notwithstanding Pliny and other ancient authors speak of the durability of ebony, cedar, and other species. Occasionally figures for special purposes, as funeral ceremonies, were made of aromatic gums, and even of hay. For modelling, clay, stucco, plaster, and wax were used in the infancy of the art; and images of baked clay, known as terra cotta work, were indefinitely multiplied by means of moulds of the same material, into which the soft clay was pressed.
Terra cotta was used for an infinite variety of purposes besides statuary, the objects formed from it being generally small and painted, and of a hardness, produced by the action of fire, almost equalling that of stone. The metals employed in casting are gold, silver, iron, tin, copper, lead, and their compounds. Electrum, a substance formed of one part of gold to four parts of silver, was used as remotely as the Homeric age; but the composition called by the Greeks , by the Romans oes, and by the moderns bronze, has in all ages been preferred for the purposes of sculpture to any other metal, and the greater part of the antique statues and sculptured ornaments now extant have been formed from it. From the varieties mentioned by ancient writers, it appears that many centuries before the Christian era a very considerable degree of skill had been acquired in its preparation; and the colossal proportions of many of the bronze works extant or on record point to a facility in the processes of casting not inferior to the art of modern times. Metal statues, however, were not always cast, but, in the earlier ages at least, were made of small plates hammered into the desired shape, and fastened by nails or cramps, or of solid pieces beaten into shape. Sometimes, according to ancient authors, peculiar effects of color, such as a blush or pallor upon the cheeks, were given by Greek sculptors to works of this class by a fusion of different metals; but the descriptions by Plutarch and others do not afford a very satisfactory account of the process, and it seems more probable that the statues were colored after being cast, as Pliny says was the practice with the Egyptians. Coloring was not confined to bronzes, but among eastern nations, as well as with the Greeks, statues in marble and other materials were frequently heightened by color and a profusion of ornament, whence they were termed by the Greeks polychromic.
When different kinds of marble or stone and of different colors were combined in the same work, it was called polylithic, to distinguish it from the simpler monolithic sculpture. Both methods are distinct from the so-called toreutic art of the ancients, which included the working of precious metals combined with other substances, as exemplified in Homer's description of the shield of Achilles. The Greek sculptors sometimes introduced foreign substances into marble statues, as precious stones or glass for eyes. A species of sculpture called chryselephantine, in which the flesh parts of the figure were of ivory and the draperies of gold, was also employed by the Greeks for statues of tutelar divinities intended to testify to the wealth, liberality, or piety of a state or individual. The statue of the Olympian Zeus by Phidias affords the most illustrious example of this. - Sculpture was probably the earliest developed of the imitative arts. So far as experience has shown, it had no special birthplace, but sprung up naturally in all parts of the world, taking its origin everywhere in the imitative faculty of man, although the practice of it in certain countries was undoubtedly influenced by the higher civilization of others. The first efforts in sculpture were probably monumental.
A block of stone rudely fashioned into some simple form, or even a pile of stones, originally sufficed for a memorial; and repeated instances occur in the Mosaic history of the erection of monuments of this kind. The next step may be traced to the desire in a primitive state of society for some visible, tangible object representing the deity commonly worshipped. But as the deities worshipped by the earliest races were heavenly bodies or abstract qualities, such representations could only be symbolical; hence in all probability the first statues of gods were simple pillars of stone having no resemblance to the human figure, and indicating their purpose only by certain marks or hieroglyphics carved upon them; and the first statues fulfilling in any considerable degree the conditions of art were Of men distinguished as heroes, benefactors, or founders of nations. When in process of time such individuals became invested with divine attributes, the visible representation of their forms as objects of worship became necessary, and sculpture first assumed its legitimate functions. The art, thus early associated with religious worship, was naturally considered inapplicable to ordinary purposes, and in many instances was wholly controlled by hierarchical influence.
The supernatural character assigned by grossly superstitious races to the forms of these newly created deities, as exemplified in the monstrous creations of the Chinese, Hindoo, and Egyptian mythology, was gradually embodied in certain fixed types from which no deviation was permitted; and this circumstance, together with the limited field of practice, caused sculpture in many parts of the world to remain almost from its birth a mere mechanical art. - The first artists on record as sculptors are Bezaleel and Aholiab (about 1500 B. C), who made the ornaments of the tabernacle (Exod. xxxi.), although long previous to their time the art of working in metal, stone, and wood was known to various eastern nations. Abundant passages in the Old Testament show that the Hebrews practised it with success, as did also the Phoenicians; but no specimens of the sculpture of either nation remain. Of Assyrian sculpture nothing was known from actual observation previous to the excavations of Botta, Layard, and their successors, by which the arts of a race whose history is lost in the mythical ages have been suddenly and minutely brought to light.
The specimens exhumed are for the most part bass reliefs on alabaster slabs, the subjects delineated being colossal human-headed bulls and other grotesque personages from the Assyrian mythology, battles, hunting scenes, processions, ceremonials, etc., executed according to a code of conventional rules. (See Nineveh.) Although none of them can be assigned a high rank as works of art, the spectator cannot but be struck by the majesty and even the severe grandeur of some of the larger figures, and by the skill with which the characteristics of individual animals and the details of elaborate compositions are represented. The Assyrians also excelled in bronze castings. Of the wonders of Babylon and the perfection to which the Chaldeans carried the art of casting in bronze and the precious metals, we know nothing beyond the accounts of Herodotus and other ancient writers. Among the Persians sculpture was never employed for religious purposes, and the art as practised by them was evidently derived from the Assyrians. Worshipping no deity which could bo represented by any form, they regarded images of gods as marks of barbarism and impiety; and wherever they appeared as conquerors such works, with the temples enclosing them, were invariably destroyed.
But their art, notwithstanding it was unrestrained by hierarchical influences, was never marked by taste or in any sense progressive. The sculptures of Persepolis represent principally processions and combats, the figures in which are heavily draped and exhibit little variety, action, or character. The sculpture of the remoter eastern nations, including the Chinese and Hindoos, has little to recommend it in the qualities of art, and affords no assistance in tracing the history of our subject. The hierarchical authority, by confining its exercise to mythological subjects, prevented it from becoming imitative or progressive. In vastness of scale and the sentiment of repose the Hindoo sculptures at Ellora, Elephanta, and elsewhere, are equal to the productions of any Asiatic race. - The Egyptians, perhaps more than any other nation of antiquity, associated the practice of sculpture with religious worship; hence most of their extant works of this class comprise conventional representations of deities and their attributes or qualities.
Recent discoveries, however, show that their earliest sculptures were free from restraint, and represented animate and inanimate forms with great accuracy; whence the remark of Lenormant: "Alone of all the world the Egyptians began with living reality to finish with hieratic convention." A striking example of their early proficiency is afforded in a wooden statue of one Ra-em-ke, preserved in the museum at Boolak near Cairo, and attributed to the era of the fifth dynasty, or nearly 4000 B. C. (according to Mariette). The body is admirably modelled, and the head life-like. This primitive art period expired with the sixth dynasty, and from the eleventh dynasty, or formation of the middle empire, about 3000 B. C, Egyptian artists formed a sort of hereditary craft, whose labors, controlled by a rigid code of rules prescribed by the sacerdotal authority, exhibit a uniformity of results so striking as to justify the statement that until the conquest of the country by the Macedonian Greeks, 332 B. C., a period of nearly 2,800 years, there was but one epoch in Egyptian sculpture. A Grae-co-Egyptian style succeeded with the Ptolemies, and expired with the art itself.
Not only were the artists forbidden to make innovations, but they were never allowed, Plato tells us, "to invent any new subjects or any new habits. Hence the art remains the same, the rules of it the same." The standard types of form were archaic in character and deficient in action and expression, which will account for the utter absence of anything approaching grace, symmetry, or elegance in Egyptian art. The figures are generally equally poised on both legs, one of which is sometimes slightly advanced; the arms either hang down straight on each side, or if one be raised, it is at a right angle across the body; and the head looks directly in front. Many statues, however, are seated or kneeling, the former attitude being that in which, on the whole, Egyptian sculptors excelled; and the colossal sitting figures of their kings frequently exhibit grandeur of proportion and repose and dignity of expression. Anatomy was little regarded in representations of the human form, and the draperies were of the simplest character, frequently falling straight to the ground, without folds.
Where elaborate representations in bass relief or intaglio of battles, processions, or religious ceremonies were attempted, greater freedom seems to have been allowed the artist; and in this class of works, as well as in occasional heads, such as the so-called Young Memnon in the British museum, there are evidences of inventive power and a feeling for ideal beauty, which, but for the restraints imposed upon the sculptor, might have borne worthy fruits. Egyptian sculpture of all kinds was usually colored, and statues of the hardest granite, the material most commonly employed, are as cleanly cut as marble and beautifully polished. - Etruscan sculpture, so far as can be ascertained by existing specimens, was connected in a greater or less degree with that of the Greeks, although there is reason to believe that previous to the arrival of Greek colonists in Etruria a purely national style was in existence there. K. O. Müller has observed that the art of the country, being receptive rather than creative, and not indigenous, began to decline as soon as deprived of the Greek influence. The best specimens of Etruscan sculpture in existence are bronze works of the kind known as Tuscanica signa, which were highly esteemed by Roman connoisseurs.
They are characterized by a stiff, archaic style resembling the early Greek, which seems to have been retained as the standard. Well known examples of Etruscan bronzes are the "She Wolf" of the capitol at Rome, and the "Chimaera" at Florence. Innumerable smaller figures have been found, and such was the facility of the people in casting, that after the capture of Volsinii by the Romans, about 280 B. C, 2,000 statues in bronze were carried away by the victors. Etruscan carvings, whether in wood or stone, are unskilful, but their terra cotta vases and ornamental work are of high artistic value. The Etruscan vases, however, so celebrated for their elegance of form and the paintings with which they are embellished, are now believed to be of Greek origin. - In the hands of the Greeks sculpture was brought to a degree of perfection scarcely approached in modern times, and quite as marked, in comparison with the progress of other ancient nations, as their superiority in every department of imitative art and literature. Similar causes contributed to this universal excellence, the principal of which, according to Winckelmann, were the innate genius of the people, their religion, and their social and political institutions.
While in the East, and even among the Etruscans, art never advanced beyond the types established almost at its birth, the Greeks, led on by an intuitive sense of beauty, which was with them almost a religious principle, aimed at an ideal perfection, and, by making nature in her most perfect forms their model, "acquired a facility and a power of representing every class of form unattained by any other people, and which have rendered the terras Greek and perfection, with reference to art, almost synonymous." In respect to climate, physical beauty, mechanical ingenuity, or manual dexterity, the Greeks had little if any advantage over contemporary races; and yet, whatever was the purpose to which sculpture was applied, their superiority was indisputable. Like the works of the painters who effected the revival of art in modern times, the sculptures of the best period in Greek history were almost exclusively public, and intended for the moral or religious improvement of the people, or as an incentive to noble deeds.
When the sculptor ceased to be influenced by these motives, his art began to decline, as Italian art under similar conditions languished after the brilliant period of Raphael and Michel Angelo. Greek sculpture may be divided into a semi-mythic or archaic period, a period of grandeur and power, a period of refinement or physical beauty, and a period of decline. The remains of the first period are not unlike the earlier attempts of other nations, although at its close, notwithstanding the hierarchical influence, a steady progress toward excellence is discernible. The first sculptors on record are purely mythical, and may be regarded as personifications of particular branches of art, or the representatives of families of artists, rather than actual personages. Such was Daedalus, whose name indicates merely an artist in general, and of whom it has been observed that "the stories respecting him are more like allegorical accounts of the progress of the arts than anything else." For many ages sculptors claimed an actual descent from Daedalus, whence they were called Daedalids; and their works, known as , represent the first attempts to replace the blocks of wood and stone which originally symbolized the images of deities, by statues having some resemblance to life or nature. These were generally of wood, ornamented with gilding, colors, and real drapery, although long before the commencement of authentic history other materials began to be used. Phidon of Argos, who is said to have struck the first money in Greece (748 B. C.), probably introduced the employment of metals in statuary; and the most ancient Greek statue in this material mentioned by classical authors was one in bronze of Zeus, by Learchus of Rhegium, who is supposed to have flourished as early as 700 B. C. This, however, was constructed of thin plates bent into the required shape, and riveted together. Glaucus of Chios or Samos (690) was the reputed inventor of the art of soldering metals; and to Rhoecus of Samos, and his son Theodoras, was ascribed the invention of modelling and casting metals, besides other improvements in the art (about 600). Pliny is of opinion that the first marble statues date from the commencement of the Olympiads, although Dipoenus and Scyllus of Crete, who flourished in the early part of the 6th century B. C, are the first artists who were celebrated for their works in marble.
Sculptured figures on architectural monuments were executed as early as the Homeric epoch, such as the two lions in relief on the ancient gate of Mycenae, which, with other archaic remains of Greek statuary and metal work, reflect, it is asserted, the influence of Assyrian civilization. The period between the age of Homer and the 50th Olympiad (580), comprising about three centuries, witnessed the discovery of the chief processes essential to the practice of sculpture; but, from the restraints imposed by religion, the art made little progress even among the Asiatic Greeks, by whom it was most successfully cultivated. Statues of gods after fixed types were almost the only ones made. Toward the middle of the 6th century those changes took place by which the early archaic style was gradually merged in that of the second epoch. The athletic contests at the public games familiarized the artists with the beautiful forms of the human body, and the practice of erecting statues of the victors in these contests, which began about 550, gave a surprising impulse to the art. The subject, not being religious, admitted of a greater play of inventive powers, and the improvement thus produced in the statues of men was extended to those of gods, which gradually began to assume grace and grandeur.
The hereditary cultivation of sculpture, under the influence of which conventional types were carefully transmitted to successive generations, also ceased about this time, and individual artists were left free to follow the dictates of their own genius. These circumstances, with the disastrous consequences to Asiatic art of the Ionian revolt against Darius Hystaspis, and the patriotic spirit evoked by the Persian invasion, gave increasing vigor to sculpture in Greece proper, where the hardness and stiffness of the first period are lost in the grandeur and ideal beauty of Phidias and his contemporaries, who united "the principles and the stability of the Dorian genius with the liberty and grace of the Ionian." Many works in marble and bronze belonging to the latter or transition portion of the archaic period are still extant, the most characteristic being the Selinuntine and AEginetan marbles, now deposited in Palermo and Munich, which formed part of the decorations of temples. Sicyon, AEgina, and Argos had hitherto been the chief schools of the art; but during the period upon which we are now entering, from 480 to about 400 B. C, Athens was its most distinguished seat, her supremacy being disputed only by Argos. The Athenian and Argive sculptors, animated by the intellectual activity which the Persian invasion developed, and which manifested itself not merely in the cultivation of literature and the fine arts, but in all the social and political relations of the Hellenic races, vied with each other in disseminating over Greece and her colonies a series of works which became the models of form for their countrymen as well as for all succeeding sculptors.
Statuary was at this time almost exclusively public, and the chief sculptors, Hegias, Pythagoras of Rhegium, Calamis, Ageladas, Phidias, Agoracitus and Alcamenes, both pupils of Phidias, Myron, and Polycletus, are known mainly by their statues of gods and heroes and their historical groups for the temples, porticoes, theatres, and gymnasia, built from the spoils of war or the profits of newly developing commerce. Of these Phidias, Myron, and Polycletus, all scholars of Ageladas of Argos, were the most famous, and their works exhibited the dignity and almost passionless tranquillity of mind characteristic of a heroic age, and of the lofty purposes for which its artists labored. Phidias of Athens, whose name is associated with the noblest architectural monuments and sculptures of the splendid era of Pericles, is generally placed at the head of all the sculptors of antiquity in the qualities of sublimity and severe beauty, his works bearing the same relation to those of subsequent stages of the art that the dramas of AEschylus do to the more polished productions of Sophocles or Euripides. His chryselephantine statues of Athena and the Olympian Zeus, the most celebrated of the kind ever made, exist only in the descriptions of ancient authors; but in the Elgin marbles, executed under his direction and in part perhaps by himself, as has been generally supposed, we fortunately have splendid and characteristic specimens of his genius. (See Elgin Marbles, and Phidias.) The Phi-galian marbles in the British museum and the casts of the sculptured fragments from the temple of Theseus, in the same institution, are also in the style of Phidias or his school.
Myron, who worked chiefly in bronze, was a great master of expression, and, from the frequent and honorable mention of him by classical authors, must have been one of the most esteemed sculptors of antiquity. He was celebrated for his figures of animals, but the discobolus or quoit player, of which the palazzo Massimi in Rome and the British museum possess copies, is the only work by which he is now known. Polycletus, the head of the Argive school, as Phidias was of that of Athens, rivalled his great contemporary in every department of his art, except the representations of gods, in which Phidias was never equalled. He even gained a victory over him in the representation of an Amazon. His statues of athletes were considered the perfection of manly beauty, and a youthful doryphorus (spear bearer) was so accurately proportioned as to be a standing model for sculptors. Toward the close of the Peloponnesian war a change took place in the habits and feelings of the Athenian people, under the influence of which a new school of statuary was developed.
The people, spoiled by luxury and craving the pleasures and excitements which the prosperity of the age of Pericles had opened to them, regarded the severe forms of the older masters with even less patience than the austere virtues of the generation which had driven the Persians out of Greece. The sculptors, giving a reflex of the time in their productions, instead of the grand and sublime, cultivated the soft, the graceful, and the flowing, and aimed at an expression of stronger passion and more dramatic action. Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, the favorite subjects of the Phidian era, gave place to such deities as Venus, Bacchus, and Amor; and with the departure of the older gods departed also the serene and composed majesty which had marked the representations of them. The great sculptors of this period of refinement or sensuous beauty, which begins about 400, were Scopas, Praxiteles, and Lysippus, by whom the art was brought to almost absolute perfection in respect to gracefulness of form and expression and technical qualities. Scopas excelled in single figures and groups, combining strength of expression with grace, rather than in architectural sculpture. The celebrated group of Niobe and her children in the museum at Florence is attributed to him.
The Venus Victrix of the Louvre, called also the Venus of Milo, was formerly also considered his work, but may more reasonably be regarded as a remnant of the sublime style developed under Phidias. The slab from the mausoleum of Halicarnassus, representing the battle of the Amazons, now in the British museum, is undoubtedly from his hand. Praxiteles was almost unrivalled as a sculptor of the female figure, and his statue of the Cnidian Aphrodite, modelled from the courtesan Phryne, was a masterpiece of sensual charms. This work is said to have been the first instance in which any artist had ventured to represent the goddess entirely divested of drapery, and the new ideal thus formed was frequently imitated by succeeding sculptors. It is doubtful whether any copies of it are in existence, although the Venus of the Vatican and that of the museo Pio Clementino are supposed to be such. The works of these two artists were executed chiefly in Parian marble, a material which now came into general use for single figures or groups, while the costly chryselephantine statues, and those made of wood and stone, called acroliths, gradually disappear.
While Scopas and Praxiteles represented what is known as the later Attic school, Lysippus of Sicyon carried out the principles of the Argive school of Polycletus by representing the human form and athletic power in the highest perfection. He paid great attention to details, and by a careful imitation of nature gave a realistic character to his productions, under the influence of which portrait statues began to take the place of ideal creations. He appears to have worked only in bronze, and was the favorite sculptor of Alexander the Great, whose statues he had the exclusive privilege of making. The commencement of the fourth and last period in Greek sculpture, about 320 B. C., found the schools of Praxiteles and Lysippus in considerable vigor, although the artists contented themselves with imitating their predecessors rather than opening any original path of design. Sculpture consequently began to decline, its decay being hastened by the disturbances which followed the dismemberment of Alexander's vast empire.
Until the middle of the 3d century B. C., however, there appears to have been no lack of reputable artists, and new schools sprang up in Rhodes, Alexandria, Per-gamus, Ephesus, and elsewhere in the East, the followers of which too frequently lent their talents to the execution of grossly flattering portraits of kings, and other unworthy purposes. The school of Rhodes could boast of Chares, the sculptor of the famous Colossus. To this period are generally attributed by art critics Agesander's group of Laocoön and his sons, which, together with the Farnese bull at Naples, emanated, according to Pliny, from the Rhodian school; the Apollo Belvedere in the Vatican, the "Hermaphrodite" at Paris, the torso of the Belvedere at Rome, the Farnese Hercules, and the "Dying Gladiator." Bronze and marble were the materials principally in vogue, and the former was gradually superseded by the latter. Shortly before the capture of Corinth by the Roman general Mummius, 146 B. C, a transient revival took place in Athens, during which the statue known as the Venus de' Medici was produced by Cleomenes, although according to some authorities it is possibly the work of Alcamenes, the pupil of Phidias; but the reduction of Greece to the condition of a Roman province gave the death blow to the art, which degenerated into a mere handicraft.
The ancient seats of civilization, stripped by the conquerors of their choicest art treasures, no longer afforded to the sculptor the models consecrated by time and national pride; and the Greeks, having neither the means nor the high inducements to practise their art at home possessed by preceding generations, transferred their labors in the 1st century B. C. to Italy. - As early as the consulship of P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica, 162 B. C, the city of Rome possessed numerous statues of gods and public men, executed probably by Greek and Etruscan sculptors, the latter of whom had long previously made the Romans familiar with their peculiar artistic creations. The overthrow of Greece and her colonies, however, gave the first impulse to the cultivation of sculpture in Rome; and after the wholesale plundering of Greek cities by Sulla in 86 B. C, a taste for art and for collecting choice specimens of sculpture and painting began to be developed among the wealthy Romans. Toward the close of the republic Rome was full of Greek sculptors, some of whom, without having originality of conception, were not unworthy descendants of the great schools of their native country.
A creditable specimen of their skill is afforded in the so-called statue of Germanicus in the Louvre. Julius Caesar was an intelligent collector of statuary, and during the reign of Augustus the art was liberally encouraged by the emperor and other powerful patrons. Caligula and Nero ransacked Greece for sculptures, and the former introduced the barbarous custom of decapitating the statues of gods and illustrious men for the purpose of substituting his own likeness, in which he was imitated by many of his successors. Down to the time of Trajan, the principal sculptured works consisted of reliefs on public monuments, such as those adorning the arches of Titus and Trajan, and statues and busts of the emperors, many of which are meritorious in point of execution, and display considerable fancy and invention in the treatment. The vigorous character of Trajan gave new life to the arts in Greece and Rome, and his reign and those of his successors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius have been called the golden age of Italian sculpture.
Hadrian was one of the most accomplished connoisseurs of the time, as was evinced by the modern excavations at his villa near Tivoli, and by his influence induced contemporary sculptors to exchange the representations of common subjects, to which they had gradually begun to confine themselves, for those more characteristic of earlier artists. The pure Greek style was revived with considerable success, and contemporary with it flourished another, half Greek and half Egyptian, suggested by the recent introduction of the worship of Egyptian deities into Italy. The portrait statues of this period are particularly fine, and the ideal creations, of which the statues and busts of the emperor's favorite Antinous may be regarded as specimens, have been placed on an equality with the works of the most finished Greek period. The efforts of Herodes Atti-cus, one of the most liberal and enlightened patrons of art on record, also did much to prolong this revival; but after the middle of the 2d century of our era the art exhibited an uninterrupted decline.
The sculptures on the arch of Septimius Severus (A. D. 203) are far inferior to the productions of Hadrian's time; and those on the arch of Constantine, erected a century later, show that originality of design and executive ability were then nearly extinct. The dismemberment of the empire completed the destruction of the arts in Italy, and during the troubled ages which succeeded, the finest efforts of the old sculptors fell a prey to barbarian or iconoclastic fury, or were destroyed in conflagrations. Constantinople, in which a vast number of bronzes, marbles, and pictures had been collected by the eastern emperors, continued for several centuries to be almost the only repository of such objects; but the capture of the city by the Latins in 1204 having involved these in destruction, the knowledge of antique art for a time passed away from the world. - Roman sculpture may be described in general terms as a continuation of that of Greece; the best artists were Greeks, and there is no record of the production of a work of any considerable merit by a native sculptor. Italy nevertheless claims the honor of having been the seat of the revival in modern times, not of sculpture merely, but of all the imitative arts.
During the period known as the dark ages the arts were in some degree kept alive by the monks of the early Greek and Latin churches; but a style and treatment founded on new conceptions of the purposes to which art should be applied and guided by Christianity, had gradually superseded those of pagan artists. The general causes which produced this result are enumerated in the article Painting. With Nicola Pisano, who flourished in the first half of the 13th century, the authentic history of modern sculpture properly begins, notwithstanding the preceding century had witnessed the production of works of decided originality, if rude and repulsive in comparison with the wonders of the Greek schools. The mission of the sculptor was similar to that of the Greek artists in the archaic and Phidian periods; but unlike the latter, who improved upon established types, he was compelled to have direct recourse to nature as it existed about him, the remains of antique art then extant being too insignificant to afford models, and according in no respect with the character of the age. Hence modern sculpture, and indeed every department of modern art, was at the outset as widely separated from that of the Greek schools, as the religion which inspired it differed from every system which had preceded.
Nicola and his son, Giovanni Pisano, were among the earliest to practise sculpture as a separate art, and the distinctive character which it assumed in their hands gave the first decided impulse to its cultivation in Italy. Their works, consisting of bass reliefs on the facades and pulpits of churches in Pisa, Orvieto, Siena, and other Italian cities, exhibit a beauty and simplicity of composition, and a force of expression, which abundantly compensate for technical shortcomings. Their conceptions of nature are naive and original, and there is scarcely a trace of the influence of the antique in their productions or those of their contemporaries, notwithstanding that their superiority to any preceding artist is supposed to have been acquired only by the study of such ancient sculptures as were preserved in Pisa and elsewhere. The art inaugurated by the Pisani was further developed during the succeeding century by Andrea Pisano, who executed in bronze the oldest door of the baptistery of St. John in Florence; by Andrea Orcagna, the Masucci, and others, whose genius was chiefly devoted to monumental sculpture and the execution of elaborate ornaments, bass reliefs, and small figures on altars.
Of the latter kind of work the altar in the chapel of San Michele in Florence, by Orcagna, is a celebrated specimen.
At the close of the 14th century sculpture, under the influence given to modern art by Giotto, who in turn owed much to the example of Nicola Pisano, had attained a considerable degree of perfection; but with the commencement of the 15th, which has been called the golden age of modern sculpture, as the 16th was of painting, it entered upon a grander epoch, the chief production of which was Lorenzo Ghiberti's celebrated bronze doors for the baptistery of St. John in Florence, which not only exceeded every previous effort of modern sculpture, but have remained to the present time a masterpiece of the art of bass relief. Among the competitors for the first door of St. John were Donato di Betto Bardi, better known as Donatello, and Brunelleschi, called by the Italians Filippo di Brunellesco, both of whom were the friends and contemporaries of Ghiberti. Brunelleschi was most distinguished as an architect, but Donatello, by his noble statues of St. Mark and St. George, and other works distinguished by bold conception and vigorous execution, gained a foremost place among modern sculptors.
Luca della Robbia is celebrated for his groups of the Virgin and Christ, and other sacred subjects, executed in terra cotta, and hardened by a peculiar process, the secret of which is said to have perished with him. Among other sculptors of the 15th century were Simone, the brother, and Giovanni da Pisa, one of the many scholars of Donatello; the Pollajuoli; Andrea Ve-rocchio, at one time a painter and the master of Perugino and Leonardo da Vinci; and Andrea Ferrucci; all of whom were chiefly employed on sacred subjects for churches and convents. Toward the close of the 15th century sculpture, in common with the other arts, began to feel the influence of the newly awakened taste for the antique; and religious subjects were succeeded by those suggested by classical history or mythology, the treatment being founded upon the ancient marbles and bronzes which the zeal of the Medici and other enlightened art patrons then first caused to be exhumed. But if the classical mode of representation was appropriate to strictly classical subjects, and the study of the antique of advantage with respect to the technicalities of the art, the introduction of pagan forms and ideas into works of a purely Christian character was calculated to check the healthful development which art had already taken, and to weaken its influence in addressing modern sympathies.
A pseudo-classical style, founded on mere imitation, uninspired by the sentiment which influenced the ancient artists, and irreconcilable with the spirit of the age, thenceforth made rapid innovations upon the practice of sculpture, and the art, while in the maturity of its promise, began to decline. At this period the most extraordinary character in the history of modern art produced his masterpieces of form. The works of Michel Angelo Buonarotti are beyond comparison the grandest efforts of modern plastic art, and his colossal Moses in the monument of Pope Julius II., his monumental statues of Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici, and his group called La Pietà in St. Peter's, show that the influences of the antique were unavailing to destroy his original conceptions of character and design. Grandeur and energy of expression and action were his chief characteristics, and his intimate knowledge of anatomy enabled him to follow the suggestions of his imagination to an extent attained by no other artist, and which was calculated to mislead or bewilder others brought under his influence, but destitute of his genius. He had numerous followers, whose works, for the most part mannered and exaggerated imitations of their master's style, are now forgotten.
Contemporary artists of the 16th century were Jacopo Tatti, called Sansovino, of Venice, who had many eminent scholars; Pietro Torri-giano; Baccio Bandinelli, who restored the right arm of the Laocoön; Benvenuto Cellini, equally distinguished as a sculptor and as a worker in the precious metals; Guglielmo della Porta, famous for his admirable restorations to the Farnese Hercules; and Giovanni da Bologna, a Frenchman by birth, sculptor of the celebrated "Rape of the Sabines" and the bronze statue of Mercury at Florence; all of whom possessed great merit as sculptors, although their works are conceived after a lower ideal than those of the masters of the previous century, and are imitations of the antique. Profuse ornamentation, high finish, illusive effects, and a great elaboration of details engaged the attention of the artist, and nobility of form and force of expression were lost in vain attempts to represent anatomical impossibilities. Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, born in Naples in 1598, affords an example of this perversion of the principles of the art, and his works, notwithstanding the fertility of imagination and the executive ability which they display, are deservedly considered to violate taste and propriety.
Alessandro Algardi, Francesco Mocchi, and other sculptors of the 17th century, exhibited similar characteristics, although in occasional efforts they rose above the spirit of the age. Francesco di Quesnoy (originally Duquesnoy), called II Fiammingo (the Fleming), deserves mention as an artist of purer taste, who excelled in portraying children. With the commencement of the 18th century sculpture in Italy had degenerated into a purely ornamental art, in which mechanical skill was more appreciated than taste or originality. In the latter half of the century the enlightened efforts of Popes Clement XIV. and Pius VI., and Cardinal Albani, the publications of Winckelmann, and the unearthing of the buried treasures of Pompeii and Her-culaneum, had the effect of reviving a love for the antique; and with the appearance of Ca-nova (1757-1822) succeeded an era of purer taste. Some of the early works of Canova reflect the true antique spirit; but he subsequently cultivated a meretricious gracefulness of form, particuarly in his female figures, with a frivolous and ignoble mannerism.
Among the successors of Canova have been Tenerani, Fraccaroli, Bartolini, Finelli, Magni, and Vela, the sculptor of the well known statue of Napoleon dying at St. Helena. Their works are gracefully designed, though somewhat feeble and affected, and admirably finished. Giovanni Dupré of Siena (born 1817) rises above academical conventionality, and may be considered the leading sculptor of the time in religious subjects. His Pietà for the cemetery of the Misericordia in Siena is his most striking production. Bastianini of Fiesole (died 1868) was also a sculptor of remarkable promise. - The history of Italian sculpture may be considered to describe in general terms the progress of the art in modern times in other European nations. In all of them it probably received its impulse from Italian artists, followed almost similar phases of improvement and decline, was influenced by similar fashions, and has been so slightly modified by national habits or feelings as to render unnecessary any elaborate account of its progress cut of Italy. The chief masterpieces of ancient and modern art are still to be found in that country, and thither it is still the custom for sculptors of other countries to resort.
In France the earliest names of note are Germain Pilon and Jean Goujon, who flourished in the 16th century. The florid style of Giovanni da Bologna was subsequently followed with considerable success, and in the reign of Louis XIV. Girardon and Puget were the precursors of a long line of sculptors, among whom were Coysevox, Falconnet, celebrated for his equestrian statue of Peter the Great, Guillaume Coustou, sculptor of the famous "Horses of Marly" in the Champs Élyées of Paris, his brother Nicolas Coustou, Pigalle, Bouchar-don, Houdon, noted for his fine portrait statue of Washington, Chaudet, and other artists of merit. In the first half of the present century flourished David d' Angers, a great and original artist, author of the sculptures on the pediment of the Pantheon in Paris; Barye, Bosio, Rude, Cortot, Pradier, Lemaire, Duret, Jouf-froy, Simart, Foyatier, and Préault. Contemporary French sculptors are Guillaume, Per-raud, Carpeaux, Crauk, Falguière, Gumery, Millet, and Dubois. Sculpture in Spain has since the 16th century been identical or nearly so with that of Italy, except that it has been more exclusively devoted to religious purposes, a practice which led to the manufacture of images of sacred personages colored to represent life and habited in real drapery.
The thirty years' war and other disturbing causes checked the development of the art in Germany during the 17th century; and in the 18th we find few sculptors of note besides Andreas Schlüter, who produced the equestrian statue of the Great Elector in Berlin, and Donner.
Within the present century German sculptors have infused a certain amount of healthful realism into their monumental works and portrait statues. Rauch excelled in this particular, and his equestrian monument of Frederick the Great in Berlin is one of the finest works of its class executed in modern times. Other sculptors of note are Dannecker, Scha-dow, Drake, Schievelbein, Rietschel, Hähnel, Kiss, Schilling, Begas, and Schwanthaler, most of whom have followed a style partaking of the qualities of modern romantic art and of the antique. Denmark has produced in Thor-waldsen an artist who coöperated with Ca-nova in bringing back the severity and simplicity of antique art, and who at the same time had no lack of religious feeling. Until the present century the art was pursued in England principally by foreigners, and the first native sculptor of note was Flaxman, a man of singularly pure ideal conceptions, whose works bear a striking affinity to the antique. His designs from Homer are in this respect among the most remarkable productions of modern art. Next in ability to him was Gibson, who passed a great part of his life in Rome, and cultivated the antique style with considerable success.
Other British sculptors of repute are Chantrey, the two Westmacotts, Wyatt, Thomas, Watson, Lough, Macdowell, Bailey, Marshall, Weekes, Thornycroft, Bell, Woolner, and Foley. No sculptures worthy of the name were produced in the United States previous to the time of Greenough (1805-'52), but within the past half century the art has been followed with various degrees of success by a considerable number of Americans. The most promising of these was Thomas Crawford, whose equestrian monument to Washington in Richmond, Va., possesses more than ordinary merit. Powers, for many years a resident of Florence, acquired a reputation by his "Greek Slave;" and Story, Randolph Rogers, and Ward are contemporary sculptors of' ability. Besides these may be mentioned Palmer, Brown, Ball, Clevenger, Akers, Bartholomew, Harriet Hosmer, Hart, Rinehart, and Launt Thompson. John Rogers is noted as a successful designer of statuette groups. The sculptured remains of Central and South America, like those of eastern Asia and India, are chiefly of value to the archaeologist, and do not illustrate the progress of the art.
They are distinguished by vastness of scale and a certain grotesque fancy, and in some instances by a beauty and symmetry of form remarkable in a semi-civilized people. - The most comprehensive work on the history of sculpture is Schnaase's Geschichte der bildenden Künste (7 vols., Düsseldorf, 1843-'64; 2d ed. by Lüt-zow and Friederichs, 1866-75), still unfinished. See also Vasari, "Lives of the most eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects" (English translation by Mrs. Jonathan Foster, 5 vols. 8vo, London, 1850-'53); Flaxman, "Lectures on Sculpture," with 52 plates (London, 1829); Lübke, Geschichte der Plastik, with 231 woodcuts (Leipsic, 1863; 2d ed., 1870; English translation by Mrs. Bunnett, 2 vols., London, 1872); Westmacott, "Handbook of Sculpture" (Edinburgh, 1864); Perkins, "Tuscan Sculptors" (2 vols., London, 1864); Tucker-man, "Book of the Artists" (New York, 1867); and Viardot, Merveilles de la sculpture (Paris, 1872).