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Graphe, Zographia (γραφή, ζῳγραφία). Painting. Among the Greeks painting developed into an independent art much later than sculpture, though it was used very early for decorative purposes. This is proved by the evidence of painted vases belonging to the ages of the most primitive civilization, and by the mural paintings discovered by Schliemann at Tiryns. Many students of the subject regard it as suggested and developed by polychrome embroidery or textile work. Homer makes no mention of painting, but speaks of pictures woven on garments, as on the robe of Helen and the veil of Hera; while two of the earliest known artists of Greece (Acesas and Helicon) were weavers by trade. It is certain that the influence of Oriental tapestries is largely felt in Greek painting. Klein and Milchhöfer think that both painting and sculpture were preceded by coloured relief.

The scanty notices in ancient authors respecting the first discoveries in this art connect it with historical persons, and not with mythical names, as in the case of sculpture. Thus it is said (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 16) that either Philocles, the Egyptian, or Cleanthes of Corinth was the first to draw outline sketches; that Telephanes of Sicyon developed them further; that Ecphantus of Corinth introduced painting in single tints (monochrome); and that Eumarus of Athens (in the second half of the sixth century) distinguished man and woman by giving the one a darker, the other a lighter colour. Cimon of Cleonae is mentioned as the originator of artistic drawing in profile (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 56, cf. 90). It is further said of him that he gave variety to the face by making it look backwards or upwards or downwards, and freedom to the limbs by duly rendering the joints; also that he was the first to represent the veins of the human body, and to make the folds of the drapery fall more naturally (ib. 56).

Painting did not, however, make any decided advance until the middle of the fifth century B.C., though Pausanias states that in the sixth century, the Samiote Calliphon painted the Homeric battle of the ships. This advance was chiefly due to Polygnotus of Thasos, who painted at Athens, and with whom as a real art painting may be said to begin. Among other claims to distinction it is attributed to him that he gave greater variety of expression to the face, which hitherto had been rigidly severe. His works, most of them large compositions rich in figures, give evidence of a lofty and poetic conception; they appear to have been, in great part, mural paintings for decorating the interior of public buildings (Pausan. x. 25-31; i. 15, 22. 6). The colours were first applied in uniform tints, so as to fill in the outlines, and fresh lines and touches were then added to indicate where the limbs and muscles began, and the folds of the garments. The drawing and the combination of colours were the chief considerations; light and shade were wanting, and no attention was paid to perspective. It is doubtful whether at this early time, besides mural paintings executed al fresco on carefully smoothed stucco-priming with plain water-colours, there were any pictures on panels, such as afterwards became common; but we may fairly assume it. These were painted on wooden panels in tempera—i. e. with colours mixed with various kinds of distemper, such as gum or size, to make them more adhesive. The art was still limited by its traditions, and each figure had its name carefully painted over it. A good deal of symbolism was tolerated—i. e. a single tree or a house or a piece of water was introduced to suggest a whole scene, which the spectator's imagination was supposed to supply. The range of colours was also still scanty, for Cicero tells us that Polygnotus used only four tints.

In the same century the encaustic method of painting was discovered, though not elaborated till the following century. The process, as described in Roman times by Vitruvius (vii. 9), was as follows: “The medium used was melted white wax (cera punica), mixed with oil to make it more fluid. The pot containing the wax was kept over a brazier while the painter was at work, in order to keep the melted wax from solidifying. The stucco itself was prepared by a coating of hot wax applied with a brush or cestrum, and it was polished by being rubbed with a wax candle, and finally with a clean linen cloth. After the picture was painted the wax colours were fixed, partly melted into the stucco, and blended with the wax of the ground by the help of a charcoal brazier, which was held close to the surface of the painting, and gradually moved over its whole extent.” The encaustic method had several advantages over painting in tempera: it lasted longer and was more proof against damp, while the colouring was much brighter; on the other hand, it was much more laborious and slow, which explains the fact that the majority of encaustic paintings were of small size.

While the pictures of Polygnotus certainly did not deceive by too much truth to nature, it was his younger contemporary, the Samian Agatharchus, who practised scene-painting (σκηνογραφία) at Athens, and thus gave an impulse to the attempt at illusory effect and the use of perspective. He painted the scenery for a play of Aeschylus (Vitruv. vii. praef. 10), and decorated the interior of the house of Alcibiades ( Alcib. 17). The Athenian Apollodorus (about B.C. 420) was the actual founder of an entirely new artistic style, which strove to effect illusion by means of the resources of painting. He was the first to give his pictures the appearance of reality, the first to bring painting into just repute (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 60). He also led the way in the proper management of the fusion of colours and their due gradation in different degrees of light and shade. It was to this that he owed his title of “shadow-painter” (σκιαγράφος).

The Attic School flourished till about the end of the fifth century, when this art was for some time neglected at Athens, but made another important advance in the towns of Asia Minor, especially at Ephesus. The principal merits of this, the Ionic School, consist in richer and more delicate colouring, a more perfect system of pictorial representation, rendering on a flat surface the relief and variety of nature, and the consequent attainment of the greatest possible illusion. Its principal representatives were Zeuxis of Heraclea and Parrhasius of Ephesus; Timanthes also produced remarkable works, though not an adherent of the same school. It was opposed by the Sicyonian School, founded by Eupompus of Sicyon, and developed by Pamphilus of Amphipolis, which aimed at greater precision of technical training, very careful and characteristic drawing, and a sober and effective colouring (Pliny , l. c. 75Pliny, 76). Pausias, a member of this school, invented the art of foreshortening and of painting on vaulted ceilings, besides perfecting the encaustic art, which was much more favourable for purposes of illusion and picturesque effectiveness than painting in tempera (ib. 123-127). Greek painting reached its summit in the works of Apelles (q.v.) of Cos, in the second half of the fourth century; he knew how to combine the merits of the Ionian and the Sicyonian Schools, the perfect grace of the former with the severe accuracy of the latter.

After him the most famous artist was Protogenes of Caunus. The following contemporaries, some older and some younger than himself, deserve also to be mentioned: Nicomachus and Aristides of Thebes, Euphranor of Corinth, Nicias of Athens, the Egyptian Antiphilus, Theon of Samos, and Aëtion. After the age of Alexander the art of painting was characterized by a striving after naturalism, combined with a predilection for the representation of common, every-day scenes, and of still-life. Pictures of a small size came into favour, their models being objects taken from common life, such as barber-shops, cobblers' stalls, estables, etc., such as one finds in the genre pictures and still-life paintings of the Netherlands. Lewd paintings also became popular, this branch of art being known as Pornographia, or Rhyparographia. At last, as art degenerated, even the floors were adorned with painting, and objects, such as melon-rinds, bits of food, etc., were delineated so as to produce the effect of a room in disorder. Such a curious bit of realism was the “Unswept Floor” (ἀσάρωτος οἶκος) at Pergamum, by Sosus. Callicles and Calates were famous painters of obscene pictures, while Piraeicus was noted for his scenes from still-life. Among painters of the loftier style the last noteworthy artist was Timomachus of Byzantium.
Among the Romans a few solitary names of early painters are mentioned—for instance, Fabius Pictor and the poet Pacuvius (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 19); but nothing is known as to the value of their paintings, which served to decorate buildings. The way in which landscapes were represented by a certain S. Tadius (or Ludius (?), ib. 116; the best MS. has studio) in the reign of Augustus is mentioned as a novelty. These landscapes were mainly for purposes of decoration (Vitruv. vii. 5). Indeed, the love of display peculiar to the Romans, which had led them gradually to accumulate the principal works of the old Greek masters at Rome as ornaments for their public and private edifices, brought about an extraordinary development of decorative art, attested by the numerous mural paintings that have been found in Italy, chiefly at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

These paintings were mostly executed al fresco on damp stucco, seldom with colours in tempera on the dry surface. The principal subjects represented are figures from the world of myth, such as Maenads, Centaurs male and female, Satyrs, etc.; scenes from mythology and heroic legends, frequently copies of famous Greek originals, one of the best examples of which is Achilles delivering Briseïs to the heralds; landscapes; still-life; animals, and also scenes from real life. From a technical point of view these works do not go beyond the limits of light decorative painting, and are especially wanting in correct perspective; but they show fine harmony, varied gradation, and delicate blending of colour, and frequently a surprising depth and sincerity of expression, qualities which must have characterized the lost masterpieces of the ancient artists to a much more remarkable degree, and cannot but give us a very high idea of them. One of the finest mural paintings is that known as the “Aldobrandini Marriage,” discovered in 1606 near the Arch of Gallienus, now in the Library of the Vatican at Rome, and named after its first owner, Cardinal Aldobrandini. It is copied from an excellent Greek original, and represents, in the style of a relief, the preparations
for a marriage. “It is composed,” says Woermann (History of Painting, i. 115), “not pictorially, but yet with taste. It exhibits several individual motives of much beauty; its colouring is soft and harmonious; and it is instinct with that placid and serious charm which belongs only to the antique. In technical execution, however, the work is insignificant, and in no way rises above the ordinary handling of the Roman house-decorator in similar subjects.” The Vatican Library also possesses an important series of landscapes from the Odyssey, found during the excavations on the Esquiline in 1848-1850. Landscapes of this kind are mentioned by Vitruvius (vii. 5), among the subjects with which corridors used to be decorated in the early times. They represent the adventure with the Laestrygones, the story of Circe, and the visit of Odysseus to the realm of Hades, thus illustrating a continuous portion of the poem ( Od.x. 80 Od., xi. 600). The predominant colours are a yellowish brown and a greenish blue, and the pictures are divided from one another by pilasters of a brilliant red. They furnish interesting examples of the landscape-painting of the last days of the Republic or the first of the Empire, and, in point of importance, stand alone among all the remains of ancient painting. On mosaic-painting and vase-painting, see Musivum Opus; Vas.

The ancients painted on stucco, wood (a thin slab called πίναξ, and in Latin tabula) which was primed with whitening (λελευκωμένος), stone, and marble. Canvas (linteum) was used but rarely (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 51). When used it was stretched on wood or pasted in several layers.

The processes of painting are represented in several works of ancient art—e. g. in three mural paintings from Pompeii. Even some of the implements and materials used by artists have been discovered. Thus, in 1849, at St. Médard-des-Prés in La Vendée, a grave was opened containing a female skeleton surrounded by eighty small vessels of glass, in most of which remains of ancient pigments were still preserved. Besides these there was a small cup of brown glass (a); a knife of cedar-wood with its blade reduced to rust (b); a small bronze box (c) with a movable lid and four partitions, holding materials for pigments; a mortar of alabaster, and a smaller one of bronze (d); one or two elegant bronze spoons (e), either for removing colours from the palette or for adding some liquid to mix them; a small shovel, made of rock crystal, containing gold embedded in gum (f); and an oblong palette of basalt (g). There were also two small cylinders of amber and two brushhandles of bone. One of the glass vessels contained bits of resin; another, wax; a third, a mixture of both; a fourth, a mixture of lampblack and wax, with traces of sebacic acid, possibly due to the presence of oil. Paint-box and Implements for Painting. (First published by FillonB. , Description de la Villa et du Tombeau d'une Femme Artiste Gallo-romaine, Fontenay, 1849.)

Our principal information about ancient pigments (φάρμακα, medicamenta, pigmenta) comes from Theophrastus (De Lapidibus), Dioscorides (bk. v.), Vitruvius (vii.), and the elder Pliny ( Pliny H. N.xxxiii. and xxxv.). It is observed by Cicero in the Brutus, 70, that only four colours were used by Polygnotus, Zeuxis, Timanthes, and their contemporaries, as contrasted with their successors, Aëtion, Nicomachus, Protogenes, and Apelles. Pliny ( Pliny H. N.xxxv. 50), who identified the colours as white (melinum), yellow (sil Atticum), red (Sinopis Pontica), and black (atramentum), even places Aëtion, Nicomachus, Apelles, and Melanthius under the same limitation. But it is hardly probable that such important colours as blue and green were dispensed with, even in the primitive art of Polygnotus, much less in the more advanced art of Zeuxis and his contemporaries, and least of all in that of Apelles and Protogenes. The earliest artists, however, may well have used comparatively few colours, and those of the simplest kind, the colores austeri of Pliny ( Pliny H. N.xxxv. 30), as contrasted with the colores floridi, such as vermilion, “Armenian blue,” “dragon's blood,” malachite green, indigo, and purple. These were characteristic of later developments of art, and were so costly that they were not paid for by the artists, but by those who gave them their commissions (ib. 44; Vitruv. vii. 5, 8).

The pigments known to the ancients were as follows:

White.—The pigment used in Greece was a “pipe-clay” called melinum, found in veins in the island of Melos. It was not available for frescopainting (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 49). A white earth of Eretria was employed by Nicomachus and Parrhasius (ib. 38). A commoner pigment was the creta Selinusia of Selinus in Sicily, used for mural paintings (ib. 49, 194), and the creta anularia, made by mixing chalk with the glass composition worn in the rings of the poor (ib. 48). For fresco-painting they used paraetonium, a hydrated silicate of magnesia, so called from a cliff on the African coast near Egypt (ib. 30), which in Rome was adulterated with creta Cimolia (ib. 36). For other purposes they employed white-lead (ψιμύθιον, cerussa), an artificial product, the finest sorts of which came from Rhodes, Corinth, and Sparta. It is carbonate of lead, and is still used under various names (e. g. ceruse). It is sold in its crude form as “Chemnitz or Vienna white,” and mixed with sulphate of barium in “Dutch, Hamburg, and Venetian white.” See Cerussa.

Yellow.—The pigments in use were yellow ochre and orpiment. The best kind of yellow ochre (ὤχρα) was found in the mines of Laurium. It was also found in Scyros, Achaia, Gaul, Cappadocia, Cyprus, and Lydia. The Attic variety was first used by Polygnotus and Micon; it was afterwards preferred for the high lights, while the kinds from Scyros and Lydia were reserved for the shadows (id. xxxiii. 158-160, xxxvii. 179). It is a diluted brown ochre or hydrated peroxide of iron, being composed of oxygen, water, and iron, mixed with more or less clay. Orpiment, or trisulphide of arsenic (ἀρσενικόν: auripigmentum), was of two kinds: (1) of a golden yellow, from Mysia on the coast of the Hellespont; and

(2) a duller kind, from Pontus and Cappadocia (Dioscorides, v. 120). It could not be used for frescoes (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 49). Yellow ochre and orpiment (under the name of “king's or Chinese yellow”) are still in use.

Red.—One of the oldest pigments was ruddle (μίλτος; rubrica). This is a red earth coloured by sesquioxide of iron. In the Homeric age it was used to ornament the bows of ships. In later times the clay from which Greek vases were made owed its brilliant hue to the ruddle of Cape Colias on the Attic coast ( Suid. s. v. Κωλιάδος κέραμος, and Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 152). The best kind came from Cappadocia, by way of Sinopé (hence called Sinopis Pontica, ib. 31, 36, xxxiii. 117), or through Ephesus (Strabo, p. 540). It was also found in North Africa (cicerculum, Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 32), especially in Egypt and at Carthage; also in Spain and the Balearic Islands, and Lemnos and Ceos. There was a treaty forbidding the export of ruddle from Ceos except only to Athens (Hicks, Gr. Historical Inscriptions, p. 186). It could be artificially produced by calcining yellow ochre, a discovery due to Cydias , a contemporary of Euphranor (Theophr. l. c. 53). Another mineral supplying a red, sometimes a yellow, pigment, was sandarach (σανδαράχη, sandaraca), found in Paphlagonia, probably disulphide of arsenic. As this mineral is poisonous, the mortality in the mines was very high. An artificial substitute, called cerussa usta, or usta alone, was therefore generally preferred. This was obtained by burning white lead, a discovery attributed to the painter Nicias (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 38). The result is “red lead”—i. e. red oxide of lead. There was besides a colour compounded of equal parts of ruddle and sandarach, called sandyx (ib. 40), which is also the designation of a natural pigment of which little is known ( Verg. Ecl.iv. 45). Of greater importance than these is cinnabar (Gr. originally κιννάβαρι, afterwards ἄμμιον: minium), found in Spain, especially at Sisapo (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxiii. 121). An artificial kind was made at Ephesus from the red sand of the agri Cilbiani. This discovery is assigned to Callias (ib. 113). The name cinnabari was often erroneously given to a red resin, now called dragon's-blood, and produced from the calamus draco, a kind of palm growing in the Sunda Islands and elsewhere. The ancients probably imported it from the island of Socotra, as it is a product of the Somali coast on the adjacent mainland of Africa.—A purple pigment (ὄστρειον; ostrum, purpurissum) was prepared by mixing creta argentaria with the purple secretion of the murex (see Purpura); the best kind was made at Puteoli (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 45)

Blue.—The pigment used from the earliest times was called in Greek κύανος, in Latin caeruleum, a blue silicate of copper, generally mixed with carbonate of lime (chalk). It is not to be confounded with the modern caeruleum, which is stannate of cobalt. Κύανος was found in small quantities in copper mines, and artificial kinds were made in Scythia, Cyprus, and Egypt (Theophr. l. c. 51, 55). Vitruvius mentions only the artificial caeruleum of Alexandria and Puteoli. The method of manufacturing it was brought from Egypt by Vestorius. It was prepared by heating strongly together sand, flos nitri (carbonate of soda), and filings of copper. This “Egyptian azure” was reproduced by Sir Humphry Davy, by taking fifteen parts by weight of carbonate of soda, twenty of powdered opaque flints, and three of copper filings, and heating them strongly for two hours. The product, when pulverized, supplied a fine deep sky blue. The “Alexandrian frit” is in part a species of artificial lapis lazuli, the colouring matter of which is naturally inherent in a hard siliceous stone. It was not available for fresco-painting, but could be used for painting in tempera (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxiii. 162). The name κύανος was given to a blue mineral, which is to be identified as lapis lazuli, a silicate of sodium, calcium, and aluminium, with a sulphur compound of sodium. This was pounded into a pigment, now known as ultramarine. Κύανος was also the name of the blue carbonate of copper from the copper mines of Cyprus, where lapis lazuli is not to be found. Artificial blue pigments were produced by colouring pulverized glass with carbonate of copper. “Armenian blue” (Ἀρμένιον) is described by Pliny ( Pliny H. N.xxxv. 47) as made from a mineral like chrysocolla (malachite?) in colour, the best kinds being almost as good as caeruleum. It is probably a kind of ultramarine.—Indigo (indicum) was also used. The way in which it is mentioned in Vitruvius (vii. 9, 6, and 10, 4) implies that it had been recently introduced.
It could not be used for frescoes. Modern experiment has proved that the colouring basis of the blue found in ancient mural paintings is oxide of copper. Cobalt has also been discovered in ancient specimens of transparent blue glass.

Green.—Several pigments were in use: (1) chrysocolla (or malachite (?), hydrated dicarbonate of copper), pounded and sifted, and mixed with alum and woad (lutum, Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxiii. 87). Malachite green, sometimes called mountain, or Hungary, green, is also a modern pigment.

(2) Creta viridis, the best kind of which came from Smyrna (Vitruv. vii. 7, 4). It is a species of ochre containing silica, oxide of iron, magnesia, potash, and water; and is still used under the names of terra verte, verdetta, green earth, Verona green, green bice, or holly green.

(3) Verdigris (ἰός; aerugo, aeruca, Vitruv. vii. 12, 1). This is an acetate of copper (sometimes crystallized), i. e. a compound of acetic acid and oxide of copper. Malachite green and Verona green have both been traced in ancient paintings. Verdigris has not been found; hence it has been conjectured that what was originally a diacetate of copper has in the course of centuries changed into carbonate of copper (l. c. p. 112). It is described as “the least durable of copper greens; light fades it in water; damp and foul air first bleach it, and then turn it black.”

Black.—The pigment (μέλαν: atramentum) was almost always produced by combustion. Polygnotus and Micon produced it by drying and burning the lees of wine (τρύγινον). Apelles was the discoverer of “ivory black” (elephantinum, Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxv. 42). A common material was the smoke of burned resin (our lamp-black), or burned pine-twigs (Vitruv. vii. 10, 1). Pliny ( Pliny H. N.xxxv. 41) also mentions a natural black pigment which is difficult to identify; it may be peat, or else oxide of iron, or oxide of manganese. The best black pigment was called atramentum Indicum (μέλαν Ἰνδικόν), doubtless the same as “Chinese black,” which originally found its way to the West through India, and thus obtained its alternative name of “Indian ink.” But it cannot be used for frescoes, and no traces of it have been found in the mural paintings of antiquity. The black in these paintings is always carbonaceous.

Some of the remains of ancient colours and paintings at Pompeii, and in the Baths of Titus and of Livia, and elsewhere, were analyzed by Sir Humphry Davy (Phil. Trans. Royal Society, 1815, pp. 97-124: Some Experiments and Observations on the Colours used in Painting by the Ancients). In an earthen vase from the Baths of Titus containing a variety of colours, the reds proved to be red oxide of lead, with two iron ochres of different tints, a dull red and a purplish red “nearly of the same tint as prussiate of copper;” all three were mixed with chalk or carbonate of lime . The yellows were pure ochres mixed with carbonate of lime, and ochre mixed with red oxide of lead and carbonate of lime . The blues were a kind of smalt, with carbonate of lime (p. 106). Of greens there were three varieties; “one, which approached to olive, was the common green earth of Verona; another, which was pale grass-green, had the character of carbonate of copper mixed with chalk; and a third, which was sea-green, was a green combination of copper mixed with blue copper frit”. A pale, rose-coloured substance, found in the Baths of Titus, which in its interior “had a lustre approaching to that of carmine,” was found to be either of vegetable or animal origin; if the latter, it was most probably a specimen of Tyrian purple . In the “Aldobrandini Marriage” the reds and yellows were all ochres; the greens, preparations of copper; the blues, “Alexandrian frit;” the purple, a mixture of red ochre and carbonate of copper; the browns, mixtures of ochres and black; the whites were all carbonates of lime.

Stelios Lydakis, Ancient Greek Painting and Its Echoes in Later Art , 304 pages (June 2004) Publisher: Getty Publishing ISBN: 0892366834

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