HISTORY OF ART.
just as their heroes invariably retain the primitive distinction of
being delineated in much larger proportions than other persons.
Hampered by these immutable rules as to proportion (which were
modified twice only in the course of several thousand years), Egyp¬
tian art appears to have been seriously checked in its growth, and
to have entered, after a brief period of efflorescence, on a long era
of what may be termed Byzantinism, — and yet in many respects
the Egyptian sculptures merit our highest admiration. The artistic
effects capable of being produced in any given material, such as
granite, were always calculated with the nicest discrimination;
nothing capable of achievement is left undone, and beyond this
nothing is attempted. The sculptors are notable for their knowledge
of anatomy, for their accuracy in the delineation of muscle, for
their skill in portraiture, and for their fidelity in representing
animal life. Of all the Egyptian works the figures of the gods are
perhaps the least happy. To us they seem to exhibit a want of taste
and intelligence; but this is perhaps to be accounted for by the fact
that they were intended to be worshipped only, and not admired.
That the practice of art was very highly developed in Egypt is proved
not merely by the great extent to which the division of labour was
carried, but by the fact that the artists understood the process of
copying figures by dividing them into squares and calculating their
proportions so as to be able to reduce or enlarge them at pleasure.
As all authorities, however, concur in pronouncing the Egyptian
artists perfect in point of technical skill, it would be superfluous
to say more on this branch of the subject.
Besides the painting of the Egyptian plastic works, another pe¬
culiarity is the incision of the reliefs, which recede from the surface
instead of being raised above it. These 'coelanoglyphs', or 'reliefs en
creux', which somewhat resemble pieces of embroidery, produce
nearly the same effect as paintings. Their object is the same, and
the style of composition, design , and artistic execution are nearly