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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Egyptian Art                            89
mated action, bringing together figures in such varied attitudes ?
The Cairo Museum has two stone statues, one of Merenpta, the
other of Rameses VI, each representing the theme of the king
triumphant, one rather clumsily, the other with a little more
artistry. But in the museum at Brussels there is a head of an
Asiatic, in crystalline limestone, worked in excellent style, the
hair of which suggests that it formed part of a group showing
the sacrifice of a prisoner. Moreover, Borchardt discovered at
Tell el-Amarna some fragments of a group which is certainly
quite as intricate, depicting Amenhotep IV in his chariot, hunt-
ing lions. In my view, the historian of ancient art who takes no
account of the existence of these fragments, exceptional as they
are, in attempting to reconstruct, imaginatively at least, the
possible nature of such works, has failed to do full justice to the
merits of Pharaonic art.
One may justly remark that appreciation of Egyptian art has
been singularly hampered by one fact, on which it is necessary
to dwell briefly. Our Western perception and comprehension
of architecture, sculpture, and even the applied arts are, so to
speak, direct. But when we come to the graphic arts, this is no
longer the case. Faced with the problem of transferring three-
dimensional bodies to a flat surface, we must apparently resign
ourselves to a choice between two fundamental systemsó
descriptive geometry, or the process of perspective. The latter,
which has become universal in modern times, represents solid
bodies as they are seen in space. The two systems are based on
principles which may be considered almost contradictory, the
first aiming at showing things as they are, and the second as they
appear to us. On the one hand we have an ideographic process,
and on the other a sensory impression. This opposition arouses
in us the feeling that any form of art which does not apply
perspective is, on the face of it, inferior and undeveloped. This
feeling is enhanced in the presence of badly executed pictures.
None the less, one should not seek to find, in imperfect