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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Egyptian Art                          117
the products of Egyptian art. This fact was recognized by the
ancients, and Pausanias notes the survival in the old Greek
sanctuaries, even in his days, of Egyptian or Egyptianising
statues. But it is clear that the art of Egypt, like its writing,
could not be transplanted in its entirety from one country to
another. The delicate technique of Egypt might be communi-
cated; but the spirit which animated its works of art, or rather
the purpose which brought them into being, was completely
different.
But why should one attempt to classify in order of merit the
products of these two arts which have bequeathed to us so many
masterpieces ? Why should one denounce everything in Egyptian
art which does not conform with our traditional rules ? Why
should one credit Greek art, as if it were one of its greatest
titles to fame, with having achieved what the Egyptians never
attempted ? In both these civilizations there were men, artists
of genius, confronted with similar problems. What solutions
did they produce, and in what degree do these solutions find
an echo in the hearts of their contemporaries and of later
generations, an echo that stirs their deepest feelings ? No treatise
on aesthetics, applied as a standard common to Egyptian and
Greek art, can supply the answer to these questions.
Quite recently a highly cultivated French politician, not 
thinking at all to discover Egyptian art, has at all events
expressed very happily the impressions made upon him by the
great monuments  of the Nile valley. Note his characteristic
reactions. 'The admiration which I feel for the sculptures of the
Parthenon, with their noble humanity, is in no way impaired;
but I remain in ecstasy before a diorite statue of Chephren.
... In its accuracy of line, its balance of composition and its
serene attitude such a work is as near to us as the celebrated
examples of classical art.' And if these are the emotions aroused
in him by Egyptian sculpture, the same feelings are excited by
the drawings in the tomb of Ramose, the bas-reliefs in the