Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

See other formats

no                         Egyptian Art
worshippers at a time when the entire Roman world had become
Christian. These temples, though built in the tradition of the
Pharaohs, are the work of the Ptolemies, who succeeded to the
legacy of Alexander the Great, and whose last heiress, Cleopatra,
rilled Imperial Rome with talk of her beauty and her intrigues.
The civilized world had already, centuries earlier, followed the
example set by the builders of the Parthenon and had adopted
different architectural standards. But the architects in Egypt
who, at the bidding of their foreign masters, raised these shrines
in honour of the old ancestral deities, borrowed nothing from the
new tendencies, and succeeded, once again, in producing a design
the memory of which will never vanish from the minds of men.
The purpose of the foregoing pages has been, not so much to
present a complete picture of Egyptian art, as to give some idea
of the diversity and richness of its achievements. Even in 1824
Champollion, with his wide knowledge of ancient Egypt, re-
marked: 'The whole history of Egyptian art, it seems to me,
still remains to be written. There is every indication that we
have been over-hasty in estimating its technique, in defining its
methods, and, above all, in fixing its limitations.' More than
a century has gone by since this was written, yet in spite of the
volume of research which has enlarged the, material of our
studies it would be premature even to-day to outline too rigidly
the limits of Egyptian art. There are still many problems which
ought to be attacked from a fresh angle. I may perhaps at
this point be allowed to indicate some of them. " ^
We have seen the way in which young pupils were trained—
by the study of a small number of literary works which were
regarded as classics. The same process was used in the appren-
ticeship of those who were called 'writers of outlines',—i.e. those
who executed the drafts of designs for sculptors and painters
to work on. These specialists in perfect draughtsmanship had
acquired their skill by copying over and over again a certain