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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Egyptian Art                           83
movements must be judged, and ranged in a scale of evolution-
ary progress. Thus none of these earlier movements could
properly be placed on a higher rung of the evolutionary ladder,
side by side with the perfect productions of the fifth century
B.C. If we agree to use the term 'miracle3 in the sphere of art,
the error involved in this theory is the belief that the miracle
of perfection can only occur once in the world's history,
It was actually the great discoveries made by Mariette which
first induced artists and critics to pay serious attention to the
problems of Egyptian art, and which led them to question the
general views on the subject which had prevailed since the days
of Winckelmann. It is worth while to read once again the
enthusiastic notices written during the Exhibition of 1867, when
Mariette was exhibiting to the Parisian public the diorite statue
of Chephren and the Sheikh el Beled. It was as though the art
of the Old Kingdom had revealed itself for the first time in all its
splendour, though the 'Scribe' in the Louvre had been there
for some years to bear witness to its magnificence. Three or
even four thousand years before the Christian era, the sculptors
of Memphis had reached perfection both in their unified con-
ception of life and in their symbolic rendering of royal power.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the unique dis-
covery of the Dahshur jewels added a whole chapter in itself
to the history of ornament, and this chapter, also, revealed
perfection.
A few years later, thanks to the efforts of English and German
excavators, came the disconcerting revelation of the art of
Tell el-Amarna. This revelation should have been enough to
destroy, even in the minds of the most superficial observers, the
fixed idea that the Dynastic art of Egypt was stationary. Finally,
during the winter of 1922-3, the opening up of the tomb of
Tutankhamen displayed to the entire world the splendour of
the applied arts of the 18th Dynasty.
I have limited myself to recalling certain discoveries known