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artist, constituted the next step in advance, and the symbols of the principal deities of this early period are to be seen in many national museums and some private collections. The rigid outline, the peculiar characteristics of the Egyptian people, were not deviated from, though the execution was bolder and more workmanlike, until the conquest of Cambyses, when it became more florid. The same remark applies to early Etruscan art, where also the position of the figure indicates the action without muscular development. We have observed that rilievi were most probably first attempted, since to cut away the soft substance of a shell round an outline, leaving the representation in relief, appears far more easy than to cut the same figure into the stone. The rilievo making an impression on any soft substance, gave an intaglio, from which the rilievo was again produced. A demand for these symbols of the deities would stimulate cupidity, and lead to those improvements which are the results of perseverance and ingenuity. The taste of the artist would soon lead him to avail himself of shades and colours in shells and stones, and induce others to obtain as merchandise stones of the finest colours, and varied shades, which were skilfully adapted to the subject intended to be represented. That practice was carried to great excellence, and then declined to fantastic adaptations and pretticisms, which are never found in the genuine works of the great masters of this art.
It is, we have remarked, impossible to state with accuracy the origin of this curious branch of art. If we attribute it to the Egyptians, we are not able to produce any specimens either of rilievo or intaglio which show an advanced state of art in conception, expression, or execution; and so we must leave Egyptian art, said to have been at its zenith about the time of Sesostris, 1000 B. C., and perhaps 150 after the siege of Troy; then merely mention its gradual decline until revived by Hadrian and the Greek artists carried by him to Egypt.
The simile in Job shows, that in the East intaglio had been practised, for no simile would have been made the subject of which was not well known and obvious. The Phænicians have unquestionable claims to be considered original artists. That they were die-sinkers of great talent is admitted by all antiquarians, and the matrix of coins and medals is intaglio: people so enterprising and industrious may be fairly supposed to have extended their attempts from soft metals to precious stones, and even to glass imitations, as that commodity is mentioned by historians among their articles of commerce. Many of the Phænician dies must be deemed to have been nearly equal to the best Greek work; and it may be presumed that some of the ancient cameos and gems are of Phænician workmanship. Dædalus, 1300 B. C., and 150 after the death of Moses, is said to have introduced, among other arts, sculpture into Greece, about fifty years before the Eleusinian theology was brought thither by Eumolpus. Yet if the statements of historians be correct, we are met with this difficulty :-between the time of Dædalus and the reign of Sesostris is a space of 300 years, during which time the natural talents of the Greeks might have advanced the arts, and the symbolical effigies of the Isiac mysteries might have been retained in the mythology of Eumolpus, and have constituted the subjects of the earliest Greek engravings; and our conjecture receives much confirmation from the fact, that some of the earliest Greek engraving on gems is on the reverses of Egyptian scarabei and deities, as if intended as interpretations of the prototypes.
If this be admitted, much of the perplexity relative to the origin of Etruscan art is removed, for the style of its first period has some points common to the Egyptian, and also to the early Greek; the want of muscular development according with the work of the former, but with an energy of action and a variety of ornaments found in the latter, and a clearer intimation of the mythos. Egyptian art advanced to a certain point, and there stopped ; thence it sank to complete degradation, until Hadrian revived it. Not so the Etruscan; it advanced to great excellence, and differs from the Greek principally by the assumption of bravura, often accompanied by affectation; it is also characterized by great length of limb and a want of refinement in conception. The deities are adorned with wings, an excrescence not found in pure Egyptian symbols of the gods. Gori (Mus. Etrus., p. 431) has not marked the distinction we have attempted to make; but that great engraver and profound judge of art, Giovanni Pickler, coincides with us in the following opinion given by his biographer Rossi :
"Lavori Etruschi divideva in due separati classi; dando nella prima luogo a quegl' intagli, nei quali si riconosce lo stile interamente Etrusco; e nella seconda a quegli altri tanto belli, ed eleganti, in cui si scorge il gusto Greco, e solo vì si ravvisano dentro alcuni tratti del Gare Etrusco nella rigidezza delle attitudini, nel modo particolare de trattare il basso relievo, nell'andamento minuto delle pieghe, ed in un certo fare tagliente, ed ardito nel segnare i contorni, e le parti principali del corpo. Questa classe, in cui abbiamo stupende opere, la intirolava Greco-Etrusca."
From Dædalus to Phidias 800 years elapsed, during which extended period the arts of sculpture, painting, and gemengraving were gradually progressing
Who the artists were during that long period we know not, as no remaining author has specified them. But among those who preceded the Periclean age may be mentioned Heius, Scylax (1), Admon. Theodore of Samos, 500 B.C., engraved the ring of Polycrates, an emerald; that monarch cast it into the sea, and it was found the next day in a fish, seryed at the table of the king. Milin has written an elaborate treatise on it. The name of Admon is not to be found in any historian, and the only authentic gem engraved by him is the Hercules Bibax, the first plate in the celebrated work of Stoch. Ætion is spoken of by Herodotus as a painter, and who might also have been a sculptor of gems; the names of Agathemerus, Axeochus, and Agathopus also occur on a few gems, and they were in all probability of the age of Alexander the Great. Suetonius informs us (cap. 47), that Julius Cæsar presented to the Roman nation a collection of engraved gems made at his own expense, which were deposited with much ceremony in the temple of Venus Genetrix. Pliny (xxxviii. 1.) gives an account of the collection obtained by Pompey from the spoils of Mithridates (the earliest collector spoken of by historians), and which were preserved in the Capitol as objects of national importance. Marcellus, the son of Octavia and nephew of Augustus, deposited his collection in the temple of Apollo on the Palatine Hill. Marcus Scaurus, the son-in-law of Sylla, had an extensive museum at Rome. It is to be regretted, that not only have those collections been lost, but also the catalogues of them, so
that we are ignorant both of the subjects and the names of the engravers. Portraits cut in intaglio appear to have been common about that period, as Lucullus received as a present from Ptolemy Auletes, his portrait engraved in an emerald.
In the Pericleau age, Polygnotus, Aspasia, Mycon, Pamphilus, Plotarchus, and many more, executed works of high taste and beauty, which have been handed down to us unimpaired, and are to be found in many of the series of engravings from the gems in the most celebrated cabinets.
The Alexandrian age boasts of Pyrgoteles, Ætion, Apollonides, Coinus, Lysippus, probably the brother of the great sculptor, Apollonius, Solon (1), Sostratus, Cronius, and many more, who were succeeded by Polycletus, Agathopus, Agathemerus. In the Augustan age the engravers on gems and cameos were very numerous. Dioscorides is placed the first; next to him Solon (2); subsequently Epitynchanus, Felix (the freedman of Calpurnius Severus), Æpolianus, Evodus, Licos, Scylax (2), Carpos, &c. Those were Greeks, for very few Romans excelled in the arts; with the exception of some architecture, all their works of art were either imported from Greece, or executed by workmen from that country.
From the time of Pericles to that of Alexander the Great, the arts of sculpture, painting, and gem-engraving were in their most palmy state, and enjoyed the protection and support of the princes and the people ; this sustained admiration continued among the Romans to about the age of Septimius Severus, when it gradually declined, and with Constantine the Great returned to Greece. The tempest of desolation which swept over the Roman empire buried the fine arts, with science and literature, for several centuries. When the tyranny of the Turk pressed the Grecian nation to the earth, many fled to Italy, and there revived the long-lost arts. Lorenzo dei Medici revived, by his patronage and munificence, that of gem-engraving, and collected with assiduity and judgment both cameos and engraved gems. He fostered the talent of Jean delle Corniuole (whose sobriquet is derived merely from the stone on which he worked so well; his portrait of Savonarola is well known),–Dominico Camei, Pierre Marie de Pescia, Marco Morette, Maria di Mantua, Nichini, Tagliacarne, Bernardi, which last, patronized by Alphonzo Duke of Ferrara, rose to great eminence, and finished many beautiful works; two from drawings by Michael Angelo, of the Fall of Phaëton, and Prometheus chained, with the vulture preying on him. Francia, who also excelled as a painter, was among the most distinguished engravers of his age. There is at Blenheim a full-length picture of a pilgrim by Francia, attributed to Raffaelle da Urbino; and there have been two pictures by him lately purchased from the Lucca collection for our Gallery, proving that he occupies a station in the highest class of artists. Valeri Belli of Vicenza, and others of inferior note, bring the art nearer to our own time.
Before we touch on the more modern artists in this line, it will be necessary to offer some observations on the art itself, and on the objects which have been most esteemed by nations at different or contemporaneous periods. The ring appears to have been the most valued of ancient ornaments; the Egyptians, Etruscans, Israelites, Phænicians, Greeks, Romans, and even some of the northern nations, considered it among the most valuable of their possessions. We have incidentally referred to its uses in Scripture, either as a pledge, in the case of Tamar; or giving authority, as from Pharaoh to Joseph; or a security, as when Darius sealed the lions' den. The same custom prevailed in Greece. Plutarch tells us (Vit. Artaxer.), that Clearchus the Lacedæmonian, who came as an auxiliary to Cyrus the Younger, and was taken prisoner and condemned to death, gave his ring to Ctesias, which insured him a kind reception among the friends he had left in Lacedæmon. Antiochus Epiphanes gave to his minister Philip his ring, and other ensigns of royalty, to be delivered to his successor Antiochus Eupator. Alexander gave his ring to his general Perdiccas, who succeeded him. Subsequently to wear the effigy of the emperor in a ring was highly criniinal, and the law remained for some time in force until abolished by Vespasian*. It is highly probable that the Egyptians and other idolatrous nations attached superstitious notions to the engravings on gems; the whole of the subjects on Egyptian
. Abraham Gorlæus has treated very learnedly on the subject of rings, and given several hundred engravings of them in his work entitled "Dactyliotheca Sigillarium quorum apud priscos tam Græcos quam Romanos usus, Aut. 1609.'