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DECORATIONS OF THE UPPER HALL.
The plan of decorating one or more rooms in our public school-bouses with a collection of casts, was laid before the Educational Committee of the American Social Science Association, by one of their number, about two years since. It was recommended by him, and approved by the committee, as a simple but efficient means of introducing an æsthetic element into the educational system of the United States. Casts, if selected to express the highest laws of form and the purest types of beauty, were thought to promise a favorable effect upon the mental and moral training of the young, especially if associated with their studies, that is, their daily efforts to improve themselves.
A special committee was formed to carry the plan into execution. They decided to place a carefully chosed number of casts in a hall of a new schoolbuilding in Boston. To this they were led, partly by the character of the building itself, and the facilities of which they were assured on the part of the school committee and the architect, but still niore by the character of the school, being the Girls' High and Normal, and therefore comprising just that body of teachers and pupils with whom the experiment might be most favorably tried. The building is on West Newton street, and the hall to contain the casts is that intended for the general gatherings and exhibitions of the pupils. It has been finished at the expense of the city, with special reference to the casts. For a series of slabs from the frieze of the Parthenon, an architrave bas been constructed, resting on Doric pilasters. Between these pilasters the walls have been painted of a color suitable as a background, and brackets or pedestals and battered form have been provided for the busts and statues.
The cost of the casts themselves, their packing, transportation, unpacking, and repairing, has been met by the subscriptions of a few members of the American Social Science Association, together with some persons vot members. It has been a quiet movement, begun and ended under the competent direction of one gentleman (C. C. Perkina, Esq.,) in particular.
All is now happily accomplished. The casts are in their places, and the work it is hoped they will do has been begun. It remains only to present a list of them, with the sources from which they have been obtained, and their cost, for the information not merely of those who see them, but of those who, though not seeing them, may be inclined to procure others like them, for the decoration of schools in different parts of the country.
List of Casts. 1. FRIEZE OF THE PARTHENON. British Museum. This is the chief work of the collection, not only in size, but in character. From models by Phidias and his pupils. The original ran around the outside of the cella or body of the temple, about thirty feet above the base of the wall; and, being under the peristyle, was at some distance from the light. It is known, however, to have been colored and gilded, and therefore much more readily seen than might be imagined. The date is about 435 B. C.
The frieze, of which the larger part is reproduced, represents the great procession on the last day of the national festival called Pauathenea. Starting from the Cerameicus, the procession wound by a long route to the summit of the Acropolis. Nearly the whole population of Attica appears to have joined in it,—some in chariots, some on horseback, some on foot; maidens bearing baskets filled with votive offerings; old men with olive branches, and in the midst a ship, from whose mast hung the peplus, a crocus-colored garment embroidered with mythological figures, the tribute of the Athenian inaidens, or rather of the whole Athenian people, to the Goddess Athena. The ceremony of delivering the peplus to the Archon and priestess of the temple, with the Olympian deities seated on either side, is represented in that part of the frieze above the stage in the exhibition hall.
2. CARYATID. British Museum. One of six figures supporting the southern portico of the Erechtheum on the Acropolis at Athens, and brought thence to England by Lord Elgin in 1814. Its erect position and straight falling draperies recall the Ionic column it replaced.
3. DIANA. Louvre. Kuown as Diani of Gabii, because discovered in the ruins
of that city near Rome, in the year 1792. Also called Atalanta. The action is fastening the mantle on the right shoulder. The statue probably dates from the fourth century B. C.
4. Venus, Louvre. Called of Milo (the ancient Melos), where it was found in 1820. As the drapery at the back is only blocked out, the statue must have stood in a niche or against a wall. The action has been variou-ly interpreted. One writer thinks the apple of Paris was held in the left land, while the drapery was sustained by the riglit; auother thinks the left arm and land supported a shield resting on the thigh, while the right hand was free for the inscription of fallen heroes. It is probably of the fourth century B. C.
6. POLYMNIA. Louvre. Found in Italy, and restofed at Rome by a sculptor of that city, n ar the beginning of the present century. The Muse is supposed to be leaming on a rok of Helicon.
6. PUDICIA. Vatican. Found in the Villa Mattei at Rome. The name was applied to it on account of the resemblance to a figure so named upon Roman medals. Also called the Tragic Muse. Also supposed to be a portrait of the Empress Livia. The right hand is a poor restoration.
7. AMAZON. Capitoline Museum. Found in the Villa Mattei.. The action is passing the bow over the head, as the Amazon arms herself.
8. Genius OF THE VATICAN. Found near Rome about a century ago. Thouglit by some to be a Cupid, and a copy of a celebrated work by Praxiteles; by others, the Genius of Death, as frequently figured ou Roman sar. cophagi.
9. Psyche. Naples Museum. Found in the amphitheater at Capua. One critic th uks that it represented Psyche with hier hands bound behind her back. It is probably a repetition of a Greek original.
10. DEMOSTHENES. Vatican. Supposed to represent the delivery of a Phil. ipic. Niebuhr sug rests that it is a copy of the statue erected by the Athenians in memory of their great orator. 11. BONE-PLAYER. Berlin Museum. This is thought to have been
portrait, executed near the beginning of the Christian era.
The following are busts:
12 APOLLO (Archaic). British Museum, of an earlier period than any other work in the collection, probably the beginning of the tifth century B. C.
13. APOLLO (Pourtales!. British Museum. Formerly in the gallery of Count Pourtales at Paris. It has been supposed to represent the god as the louder of the Mu-es.
14. ZEUS TROPHONIUS. Louvre. This is an imitation, if not an actual specimen of the Archaic style. Zeus was called Trophonius because worshiped at the oracle of that hero in Bæotia.
15. JUPITER. Vutican. Found at Otricoli, about forty miles from Rome. The original can not have been sculptured before the tirst century of our era, as it is of marble from quarries not worked until that period. Of all known heads of the god. this is considered the most Phidian in tone.
16. JUNO. Vila Ludovisi, Rome. This head probably formed part of a colossal statue, the work of a Greek sculptor, in the fourth century B. c.
17. PALLAS. Louvre. Styled of Velletri, because the statue to which this belonys was found there in 1797.
18. BACCHUS (Young). Copitoline.
19. ÆSCULAPIUS. British Museum. Found in the Island of Milo in 1828, and supposed to have been executed about 300 B. C. The expression has been remarked upon as befitting the great Healer.
20. HOWER. Copitoline.
Nos. 1, 2, 12, 13, 19, from D. Brucciano, 40 Russell street, Covent Garden. London; Nos. 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 14, 17, 22, from Bureau du Moulaye, Palais du Louvre, Paris; Nog. 6, 8, 10, 15, 16, 20, 21, from L. Malpieri & G. Candiotti, Rome; Nos 4 and 18 were purchased of Paul A. Garey, 6 Province House Court, Boston.
The President of the Social Science Association, Samuel Elliot, LL. D., presented the collection, with the following remarks:
Mr. Chairman :--It is my pleasant office to offer, in behalf of all those who have contributed toward placing this collection of casts here, their contribution toward the success and the development of this school. We have thought that while there is enough controversy in the educational world as to the proportion which different studies should take in it, while some of us are very much on one side and soine on the otier, and not so many of us, perhaps, between the two, with regard to the prominence which should be given to one study above another, there is an opportunity for those of us who believe in its influence to advocate one study not generally advocated, and to press its claims upon the thoughts and the affections of this educated community. Fair as our school system is, and adorned as it is with all the light and beauty that stream in from the past upon the present, there is one ray which has not yet penetrated far, oue that comes from the art of the ancient world, one that, if it comes, comes here, as everywhere, fraught with light and benediction About the place that should be assigned to Greek language or literature in a programme of study there may be a question, but about the place to be assigned to Greek art there is no question, and there can be no question among those who know what that art is, and what power it is susceptible of wielding. If it were only as a mere negation of that high pressure put upon our children; if it were only as a sostening element introduced into study that needs to be softened and shaded dowo,
Quam neque longa dies nec pietas mitignt ulln,'like the harper who lays his open palm upon the harp to deaden its vibrations, æsthetic education, if it found its place among us, would soften and sweeten the whole course of study. But it is not merely as a negation that art should be welcomed among us; it ought to come full of that positiveness, full of that inspiration which we all stretch out our arins to accept, and open our bearts to bless. Greek art is the expression of the finest culture and the deepest thought that have ever found an abiding place upon this earth. It was the pursuit of the best men in Athens and throughout Greece. It ought to be cherished by us, it ought to be made more of for the lessons, not merely artistic, but intellectual and moral, which it conveys. In its simplicity, its idealism, in its unbroken and unshaken truthfulness it is a teacher of principles which no scholar can learn without being the better for them, and no community cherish without being sanctified by them. If we welcome it here we shall welcome something which will make our school brighter, our home dearer, and our whole lives nobler. We shall welcome something which we can take into our breasts and cherish there, and, while we cherish it, it cherishes us and gives life, and breadth, and purity.
Mr. Chairman, I offer in the name, not merely of the American Social Science Association, but more particularly in the name of those members of the association, and those friends of theirs not members, who have taken part in this work, the collection which we see on and about these walls. It has been carefully chosen, under the guidance of one (Mr. Charles C. Perkins.) who will follow me in explaiving his choice. We owe to him, I am free to say, a large share of what will make this collection valuable here, and will lead, as we trust, to its being imitated elsewhere, and I beg the teachers and the pupils of this school to feel that we ask them and depend upon them to help us in this experiment which we are trying. If they value these expressions of art, if they think well of them and speak well of them, if they get that good from them which we believe they will, the ripple which is stirred here to-day will spread far beyond this school and this city, to every part of the country; and there will gradually come into the education of the United States an æsthetic element which it now wants, but which is as sure to come through this experiment, or through some better experiment, as the sun is sure to rise to-morrow.
I beg your permission, Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, to read a part of a letter, which was addressed to me to be read to-day. It comes from the friend who gave this frieze which runs about these walls, a friend who was the first to propose this work, whose sympathy and enthusiasm have encouraged it at
every step, and who ought to he here to-day in the flesh, as I doubt not he is in the spirit, to witness the result of bis efforts and liis hopes,—Mr. James M. Barnard: “A great interest is felt here," he writes from Italy, “in this move. ment, particularly in the plan which has been adopted for the public schools by the association. I wish I could be present to rejoice with you in the inauguration. Receive my profound sympathy. Mrs. Barnard unites with me in presenting to the Girl's High and Normal School, through the association, the frieze of the Parthenon, reproduced by Brucciani from the originals in the British Museum.” And now, Mr. Chairman, not only the frieze, but the statues and busts become the property of this school; and as long as they stand here, may they stand as silent but not the less effective teachers of all that is good and pure in the human heart, and all that is truest and noblest in huinan lives.
Mr. Charles C. Perkins, to whom Mr. Elliot referred in his address, was then called upon to explain the frieze and statuary. He said :
Ladies and Gentlemen :- When I first saw tliis liall, its walls were bare, its ceiling open to the roof; nothing gave promise of its present aspect. It was like the block of marble in the sculptor's studio, or the blank canvas on the painter's easel, -waiting to be transformed into a “thing of beauty." You will agree with me that it could not liave been turned to a better use than this, namely,--to be made a place in which the elevating and inspiring influence of noble forms should be brought to bear upon the minds of the young persons who came hither to be educated.
In the great problem whose solution has exercised the minds of those who wished to see the power of Art brought to bear upon the American people, the question has been bow and where to begin. Plutarch relates that Archimedes told Hiero, the tyrant of Syracuse, that if he could cross over into another planet, and thence work his lever, he could move the world. Now we who wish, though in another sense, to move our New World, of whose exist. ence Archimedes never dreamt, have crossed over to the Old World, which is to us as another planet, and have thence applied the potent lever of art. Here we have used it in a small way, by means of a few casts placed around the walls of a single school-room; in the Museum of Fine Arts, we shall use it in a more complete way, by ineans of a great collection of casts, which will illustrate the history of plastic art from antiquity to the present time. Here we hope to work upon the young,—there to influence persons of all ages and conditions; here we depend upon the slow but sure intluence of daily familiarity with a few excellent types upon tender minds,—there we shall expect to sow seed which will bear an abundant liarvest in the arts, in manufactures, in manDers, and in thought. Form is embodied thought, and an index to the condition of a people as regards intellectual attirinment and civilization. An immense amount of the best thought of the ancients lias been embodied for us in marbles, bronzes, coins, and gens, and this precious heritage is waiting to enrich us whenever we choose to avail ourselves of it. We liave but to desire it, and all the best plastic works of the best periods of art will be brought to our shores in reproductions, which, though of little material value as compared with the originals, will be as potent as they could be to quicken us to a closer observation of nature, to elevate our taste, and to make us judges of beauty when they have made us beautiful in mind. For, as Plutinus says, “only the beau'iful in mind can judge of beauty."
The young people who will assemble here are but a fraction of the great public, and yet they may be of great assistance in the work we have at heart. Having learned the value of such an influence as works of art exercise upon those who live in daily contact with them, they will teach it to others. The appetite for beauty nourished here will demand food for its satisfaction at home. Parents and friends will catch the enthusiasm, and like the encircling ripples which break the surface of a lake around the place where a stone has fallen, and widen out until it is everywhere in motion, it will spread until the whole community feels its influence. Have you ever watched a cloud no bigger than a man's hand, as it rose upon the horizon, and gradually widened out until it covered the heavens with blackness? At first the big drops of rain fell slowly from it, then faster and faster in gathering streams, until the parehed earth was
deluged with sheets of water. Now this small collection of casts may represent to us the little cloud wbich promises that beneficent and fertilizing rain of art which is to fall upon this contivent. We need it; we thirst for it; and we shill have it. These are the first drops of promise which precede the abundant sliower that is to quicken our national life and fertilize the land.
The casts which adorn this school-room were purchased in Rome, Paris, and London. They were selected with peculiar reference to the place in which tliey were to stand; and though necessarily few in number, combine a great variety of types. The Minerva, the Diada, the Psyche. and the Amazon, are typical representations of virginal beauty; the Junio and Pudicitia of matronly beauty; the Demo.thenes, the Pericles, and the Homer, represent the oraor, the statesman, and the poet. The Genius of the Vatican is a type of adolesence; the Bone-pl.yer a type of grace. These casts also illustrate many styles of Greek art. The Archaic Apollo is an example of the bard, earnest, and realistic style wbich prevailed in Greece, and notably at Argina, in the begiuning of lilie titih century B. C. The bust of Jupiter Trophoniug is of the somewhat mannered but delicate and refined style, which marks the work of the Archaic sculptors of the Attic school about the same period. The Panathentic frieze, the Caryatid, the Jupiter, and the Æsculapius, illustrate the school of ideal art founded by Phidias. The Demosthenes is a noble example of the school of portraiture, founded by Lysippus in the fourth century B. C., as is the Genius of the Vaticau of that soft, sensuous, but exquisitely beautiful school of sculpture which was founded by Praxiteles, between the time of Puiduis and Lysippus. Lastly, the Pudicitia, the Polymnia, and the young Augustus, illustrate the Greco-Roman school, which flourished at Rome during the early part of the empire. A caste of the Minerva Giustiniani of the Vatican was ordered at Rome, and wlien made was rejected as imperfect; another was ordured in London, but could not be obtained. “Invita Minerva," what could be done to compel her presence? Thanks to the generosity of Miss Cushman, the Boston Athenæum owned a cast which stands npon the platform; and permission was obtained to transport it hither for this occasion. Thus it happ us that Minerva is your guest tv-day; and let us hope that many months will not elapse before the present representative of intelligence and cultivation will be replaced by ano her, already ordered at Rome, as a permanent substitute.
Time matures slowly but surely all suggestions in harmony with human wants, and in the direction of a progressive civilization. “Why should not the places where both teachers and children pass so large a portion of their time, be made as pleasant and attractive as possible ?' asks that devoted laborer for the primary schools of Boston, Joseph W. Ingraham, after doing what he could, in 1848, to adorn the walls of the Sheafo Street Model School building (afterwards known as the Ingraham School), with engravings and vases of dried grasses. Why should not these structures be designed by skilsul architects, erected on sites in the country commanding the priceless advantage of a fine outlook over bill and meadow, and the near surroundings of green lawn, flower beds, and shrubbery, and in the city at least, adorned with vases, statuettes and engravings ?' asks Mr. Barnard, in his address at the dedication of the first decent country school-louse erected in Connecticut in 1839. Why should not the suggestions of our own Sigourney, in that essay recently prepared at my request and read before the educational convention in Hartford (1838), on the Cultivation of the Beautiful, be at once heeded, and the experiment be ventured on of a more liberal adornment of the dwellings devoted to education ? Let us put more faith in that respect for the beautiful, which really exists in the young heart, and requires only to be called forth and matured to become an ally of virtue and the handmaid to religion. Knowledge itself will be more attractive when standing, like the Apostle with the gift of healing, at the beautiful gate of the Temple. 'Flowers,' says Galen, "are food for the soul.'