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This article was written for the volume "Frontiers of Knowledge in the Study of Man"
published by Harpers in the fall of 1956. The publisher has kindly permitted the reprint of the
essay. The volume contains seventeen contributions discussing the present status of the various
fields of learning within the Humanities. It is edited by Dr. Lynn White jr., President of Mills
College. There were certain editorial conditions to be met which explain the absence of foot-
notes and the very limited use of names of scholars in art history to whom otherwise I would
have liked to pay tribute. My task was to introduce the educated layman to our field without
frightening him by too many unfamiliar terms and names. I found this task a challenge.-A.N.
(Professor Neumeyer teaches the history of art at Mills College-Ed.)

An Essayon ArtHistoryin OurTime
Alfred Neumeyer

For generationsstudents of archaeologyhad to look at pictures of the

famous Nike of Samothracein a reconstructionwhich showed her with a long
trumpet in her outstretchedhand, blowing a fanfare of triumph (fig. 1).
This attempt to complete the image of the armless statue was based on a
Hellenistic coin which shows a similar Victory, trumpet in hand. To the
moderneye, educatedby the sculpturalaestheticsof Maillol and HenryMoore,
the thin accessorylooked decidedlyunpleasant.
Digging in 1948 on the nativeisland of the statue,Samothrace,American
archaeologistsdiscoveredparts of the missing hand in the fountain basin in
front of the original sanctuary.From these incompletefragments it became
evident that the reconstructionwith the trumpethad been erroneous.Later
when the excavatorsvisited the ArchaeologicalMuseum in Vienna, which
had sponsoredthe original excavationsin the 1870's, they found the missing
portions of the hand and thus were enabled to offer a completelynew recon-
structionof the statue. The hand had been empty and open, the arm raised
in a gesturewhich we know today as the Fascistsalute.Thus the disquietude
of the modern spectator had been entirely justified: there never was a
"Victorian"Victory of Samothrace.The story shows all the features that
enter into the life of scholarship:the searchingmind asking the right ques-
tion, Fortuna-good luck,powerof observation,pertinacity,exactitude,reason-
ablenesscombinedwith imagination.
What has been the patternof art historicalstudiesin America?In leafing
through volumes of the Art Bulletin, today the leading journal in the field,
between 1913 and 1948, one notices during the first ten yearsa strictlimita-
tion to art education. With two exceptions all the articles deal with such

CAJ XVI 3 198

Fig. 1. Reconstruction of Nike of Samothrace with Trumpet based
on a Greek coin. From Luckenbach, Kunst und Geschichte, Munich-
Berlin, 1913, vol. 1, p. 65.

subjectsas "how to arrangea curriculumin the Fine Arts," indicatingthat art

appreciationcoursesprecededthose on the historyof art. Only a few islands
of archaeologicalresearchemerge, surroundedby a sea of educationalessays.
Yet by 1923 the situation had changed completely and America had
begun to rise to the level of Europe,where art history had been established
for generations.Of the approximately430 essayslisted in the 35 yearperiod,
we discover96 studies dedicatedto the mediaevalperiod between 1100 and
1400 (1500 in the North of Europe), 90 to the Renaissance,followed by 62
on the EarlyChristianand Byzantineepoch and 53 on iconographyincludinga
few on general aesthetics.Then follows the Baroque with 38, the modern
epoch since 1800 with 32, Antiquitywith 30, the Near and Middle Eastwith
29, Americanart with 27 and the Far East with 22. If one realizes that a
great numberof the iconographicalstudies are also concernedwith the Early
Christian,Byzantineand mediaevalepochs, then the fact standsout that about
half of the investigationsdeal with the Pre-Renaissancehistory of European
To this must be added the geographicaldistributionwhich also is in-
dicativeof America'sspecial interests. 110 of the articlesdeal with Italy, 46
with France, 44 with Spain, followed in considerabledistanceby Germany
199 Neumeyer:VictorywithoutTrumpet
with 28, England with 15 and Holland with 13. Joining the two groups of
figures we get a clear picture of the overwhelming concern with the Medi-
terranean world, particularly in the Early Christian, Byzantine, Mediaeval and
Renaissance periods. One notices especially the relatively large number of
Spanish studies as compared to research in the arts of Northern Europe. The
picture differs considerably from that of a similar journal in Europe. There
the arts of Central Europe (especially Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria
and England) would prevail while the Oriental countries and Antiquity
would be relegated to specialized periodicals. As to periods, the later epochs,
especially the Baroque, would be more strongly represented.
In seeking to discover why, research in the United States should differ
so markedly from that in Europe we arrive not so much at ideological causes
as at very personal ones: the influence of a few great scholars who gave
momentum to a slowly growing field of learning and direction to succeeding
At Harvard under the leadership of a great teacher, Charles Eliot Norton
(active as a lecturer between 1873 and 1897), a t'mediaevalist" atmosphere
developed toward the end of the last century. From it emerged Bernard
Berenson's interpretation of Italian art, too modern to be appreciated by
Norton himself. Berenson has influenced the collecting activities of museums
and private individuals more than anyone in our time, and from his library
a host of critical essays, books, and "catalogues raisonnies," full of wisdom,
wit and anger have emanated.
If Berenson directed our attention to Italy, Henry Adams, man of
letters and member of a presidential family, turned the interest of a wider
audience to mediaeval France. His Mont St. Michel and Chartres (1905) is
written with a fine sense for the use of literature, theology and the visual
arts in conjuring up the peculiar spirit of time and place. In him the Puritan
reserve toward the Catholic and feudal aspects of the Middle Ages yielded
to aesthetic admiration. Another ten years and the fruits of the mediaeval inter-
ests would begin to show and to make America one of the centers of mediaeval
research in the world. In 1923 Kingsley Porter's Romanesque Sculpture of the
Pilgrimage Roads appeared in 10 volumes in which he traced the spread of
mediaeval sculpture from the heart of France to westernmost Spain in Santiago
de Compostela. We follow the actual expansion of a style, its modification on
the way from the center and its absorption into another artistic idiom.
Investigation of individual monuments in order to explain the larger
context is a method favored also by Charles Rufus Morey who gave to re-
search in Early Christian and Byzantine art a permanent home in Princeton.
His quest for the origins of the art of the Early Church, which he found in
three main currents (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria), his concern for
book illumination and objects of the minor arts, have lent scope and direc-
tion to this field. The peculiar interest in Spanish art which gained impetus

CAJ XVI 3 200

by the work of Kingsley Porter was taken up by Chandler R. Post who
gave us his 11 volume corpus of the History of Spanish Painting (ending
with the Renaissance) and by Walter Cook, who instigated the study of
mediaevalSpanishsculptureon a broadbasis.
Such investigations centering upon Europe were amplified by research
in Oriental art, as the 50 or so articlesin the Art Bulletin make fully clear.
America'slocation between Asia and Europepermitsand even demandssuch
a global view. In general, the study of Chinese bronzes and of Far Eastern
ceramics (with some neglect of the later periods) absorbsthe main interest
of our scholars, while in painting attention has turned to the Ming and
Ch'ing and to the importanceof literarysources.The art of India, especially
considered for its philosophical and religious symbolism, has added its
jungle wealth of forms and meaningsto our awareness.The frontiersections
of Chinese Turkestan and Afghanistan have directed interest to the great
caravan roads of artistic exchange between the Mediterraneanworld and
This account of the specific features of American scholarshipwould
remain incomplete, without mention of the contribution which German,
Austrian, French, Italian and Spanish displaced scholarswho found a new
home in American colleges and universitieshave made to art history. It is
through some members of this group that another feature of art-historical
research,namelyiconography,has takena very significantposition in America.
Today iconographyno longer is concernedmerely with the investigationof
attributesof mythologicalfiguresand saints but has turnedinto an interpreta-
tion of the intrinsicmeaningswhich lie behind these images.This deepening
of the method we owe primarilyto Aby Warburg and the membersof the
WarburgInstituteand to ErwinPanofsky.Everychosen imageappearsnow as
an action of memorydrawn from the power house of accumulatedtraditional
The transformationsof the classicalgods and goddessesfrom the idealized
humanity of their Greco-Romanorigin to star constellationsin the Arabic
world, their ominous place as sorcerersand witches in mediaeval lore and
their triumphantreturn to the art of Italy during the 15th century,reflects
exactly such accumulationof the most diversifiedmeanings in one symbolic
image. Venus landing on the shores of Greece had to throw off her Asiatic
fertility attributesand accept Greek manners and mores. With the rise of
Christianityand later of Islam her nudity becamesinfulnessand the goddess
was banished to the starry sky whence she radiatedher astrologicalspell.
Could she be anythingbut a sorceresssince she bewitchedTannhaiuserin the
Mount of Venus? Only at the momentwhen "modern"individualismduring
the Renaissancehad taken a positive view of the realm of human passions
could Venus be restoredto her original good conscience.Yet how surprised
Praxiteles'Venus of Knidos would have been to meet her gentle, Christianized
201 Neumeyer: Victory without Trumpet
descendentin Botticelli'spaintingof the seaborngoddess!
Thus iconographyhas becomea key to the symbolismwhich every story,
attitudeor attributeis carryingon its long passagethroughhistory.It reveals
the migration of such motifs or images as a process in which every single
detail has a necessaryplace within a total historicalcontext. One objection
to the present preponderanceof iconographicalstudies in the narrowersense
of the word is that it disregardsthe spontaneousand semi-free creativeact
which expressesitself primarilyin the form and in the style of the art work.
It is at this point that we have to widen the circle of our observationbeyond
the United States.
Just as the handwriting of a person is expressive of individual traits,
of communalhabits and of culturaltraditions,so the form of every art work
is shaped by the visual conceptsof an epoch, a countryand a personality.It
is with these aspectsthat Europeanart history,beginning with the biographi-
cal compilations by Renaissanceartists and developing into the analytical
observationsof "connoisseurs,"is primarilyconcerned.With the Hegelian
age of "Universalgeschichte"these observationson the "handwriting"of
individual artists have expanded into a description of the style of entire
epochs; for as Aldous Huxley has written, "at any given epoch there is only
one prevailing style of art, in terms of which paintersand sculptorstreat of
a strictlylimited numberof subjects.Art may be defined, in this context, as
a process of selection and transformationwhereby an unimaginablemulti-
plicity is reducedto a semblanceof unity." (Aldous Huxley, "Art and Reli-
gion," Art News, 1950, p. 23.)
And if art selects and transforms,so does the historian.He eliminates
what he considersnon typical and he emphasizeswhat he finds meaningful
to bring order into the complexity and the contradictionsof reality. Such a
selective act is, for instance, the raising of the Gothic period by the Ro-
manticistsfrom the neglect in which it had been held in the previous cen-
turies. There followed the discovery of a "Renaissance,"which previously
had not been isolated as an epoch: JakobBurckhardt'sresearchand masterful
literarypresentationwill forever be linked with this concept. In the 1880's
the concept of the "Baroque"crystallizedwhile the idea of "Mannerism"
(1520-1600) emergedin the 1920's. Seen from the vantagepoint of todaythe
appearanceof eachof these stylesis not simplythe discoveryof new phenomena
such as an improvedmagnifyingglass might yield but is, to some extent, a sub-
jective creationendowed with all that seems desirableto the historicalcon-
jurer.Thus the "Gothic"gave chivalryand religion to its Romanticdiscoverers
who, opposed to the spirit of the FrenchRevolution,wanted chivalryand re-
ligion. The "Renaissance"--asformulatedby Burckhardt-was in some ways a
creation of the liberal opposition against the reactionary"mediaevalism"of
the conservativepowers ruling Europe after the Congress of Vienna. The
"Baroque"provided the Rubensianopulence for a late Victorian and Wil-
CAJ XVI 3 202
helminian society with its expansive but undifferentiatedtastes, and "Man-
nerism" presented a spiritualizedand "abstract"art to the anti-naturalistic
tendencies of contemporarycreation. However, within the frame work of
such visions, sober rational investigationhas taken place, has assembledand
organizedthe material,has shown the peculiarpatternof time-and-space,has
determinedartifacts,until at length the accumulatedfacts and a new attitude
begin againto questionthe correctnessof the vision.
This concept of autonomousstyle-epochssuch as the Renaissancehas
been attackedfrom two sides: first by those who believe that many qualities
assignedas original to the Renaissancehad alreadybeen presentin the Middle
Ages, at least since Giotto, and second by those who do not acceptsuch col-
lective phenomena and see in them errors of historical perspective and
fashionableproductsof ideological couturiers.The latter was the position of
the Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce who exalted "individualintention"
beyond collective formal compulsions.But also from the point of view of
empiricism, English and American scholars have shown resistance against
such constructedentities. Is it surprisingthat in the countryof William James
and John Dewey empiricalapproachesare preferredto a searchfor a priori
laws in the realmof art?
Not only has the existence of styles as living beings with their own
evolutionarylaws been debated,but also the peculiarlynationalcharacteristics
of artisticphenomenahave been questioned as a result of the ever growing
revelation of artistic interaction between the various nations and cultural
areas. We know today, for instance, how much of the Germanic animal
ornamentof the migrationperiod (400-800 A.D.) is really CentralAsiatic.
Or we may recall the "Internationalstyle" in Gothic painting of around
1400 A.D. which often makes national localization a guessing game. And
who has not been struckby the truly internationalcharacterof contemporary
abstract art? While national characteristicsand modifications of foreign
"imports" by national traits do exist, forming by their manifoldness the
orchestrationof a world art, these nationalfeaturescan alwaysbe transgressed
or transformedby the spontaneouscreationof genius, of which the earmarks
are anticipationand consummation.Today the complex interactionbetween
individual and collective traits is generallyrecognizedand notions of isolated
historicalunits may be relegatedto a mythographicpast.
Yet transgressionand interaction do not eliminate the fact that there
exist national styles and period styles. Their characteristicway of expression
evokes the question of whether these "handwritings"of entire epochs do not
point-just as in human beings-to consciousintentions, inherent ideas and
unconsciousmeanings.In the light of such a question,a work of art becomes
raised to the status of a symbol and art history conceives of itself as a his-
tory of ideas. It assigns to the art work its place within the context of
literatureand philosophy of its time, all of which are taken as expressions
203 Neumeyer: Victory without Trumpet
of a common spirit of an epoch without sacrificingminute observationof
detail to universals. Art is to be regarded as expressive of the innermost
drives for man's orientationin the universe.The art work as a reflectionof
active spiritual forces cast into symbolic images, has for instance, guided
Erwin Panofsky to choose perspectiveas such a symbolicform and to use it
for demonstrationof the meaning of the great spiritual revolution of the
Renaissance.All these investigations have in common a "philosophy of
symbolicforms"whose chief exponent,ErnstCassirerwrites:
"Cognition as well as language, myth and art, all act not only as mirrors which
reflect the images of outer and inner existence, but-far from being such in-
different media-they are primarily the original sources of light; they are the
conditions of seeing as well as the fountain heads of all creation." Philosophie
der symbolischen Formen I, 26.
Art history as a history of ideas deals with the "conditionsof seeing" in a
given cultureas they are expressedin worksof art.
In all the approacheswe have discussedso far, the aestheticaspect of the
art work has been the most important.However, the art work is, to some
extent, also the expressionof the social and economicforces that have deter-
mined the needs and the ideals of the artist and his epoch. The source ma-
terial directly related to art, such as contemporarybiographies,guild laws,
ecclesiasticrecords,building instructions,memoranda,letters and instructions
of patrons, are the material from which a fruitful contributionto a social
history of the arts can be expected. One has only to read the letters of Ger-
many's greatest master, Albrecht Duerer, to Jakob Heller, a wealthy cloth
merchantfrom Frankfurtwho had orderedan altarpanel from him, to under-
stand the importanceof materialand economicfactors in the execution of a
painting. In paying a higher price the patronis assuredof the fact that every
part will be executed by the master'sown hand while reductionof the price
would involve the execution of parts by apprenticesafter the design of the
painter. Even in Michelangelo'sstruggle for the execution of the tomb of
Pope Julius the Second the legal and financial aspects played their part in
"The Tragedyof the Julius Tomb" of which due to inner and externalrea-
sons only s6rryfragmentscould be carriedout by the artist.
Explanationof artistic creation from a strictly Marxian social history,
on the other hand, has led to grotesque distortionsof the semi-autonomous
characterof the art work. It is ratherin the widening of the field of vision,
in the inclusion of areas passed over until recently as "folklore," that the
social history of the arts can gain. The lower and simpler strata of artistic
creationrepresentnot only what a formerdefinitionof folk art had described
as "debasedcultural goods of the upper classes": they also can contain the
essences of human experience and the basic principles of representation.It
is for this reason that contemporaryart has received a vital stimulus from a
mere "Sundaypainter,"the Frenchtoll collectorHenri Rousseau.The childlike
CAJ XVI 3 204
frontality of his figures, his admiring denotation of each detail with equal
exactitude,his naive distortionof space, in short his "magic"intensification
of the world, have-according to their own testimony-influenced great mod-
ern artistslike FernandLUgerand Max Beckmannin their searchof a pictorial
realityindependentof merelyopticalsensations.
Vast as the field of art history has grown, from iconographyto the
social aspects of creation, there are still two areas of scholarshipthat have
not sufficientlybeen absorbedinto it. One is anthropology.The studyof man's
habitat on earth had by necessityto examine the way in which artifactsare
related to the life processes of man. But anthropologistsin classifying and
describingform and ornamenthave made, in general, all too little use of the
interpretivemethods developed by art history. On the other hand an art
historian, George Kubler of Yale, in his Mexican architectureof the 16th
century has fused demography (population analysis) and other approaches
worked out by anthropology with the form analysis of art history in a
method beautifully fitted to the mixed Indian-Europeansetting of this cul-
ture.His work points the roadto futureresearches.
Much, likewise, can still be done to draw from contemporarypsychology
for the interpretationof the history of artisticcreation.While it is true that
admirablebiographiesof artistshave been written which containa great deal
of psychologicalinsight, the results of modern methodsof scientificpsychol-
ogy are rarely used. Since the beginning of our centurythe interest of the
psychologists has been directed toward the field of cultural creation as a
symbolic expression of man's dreams, drives and memories. In general, the
approachof the psychoanalystshas suffered from the unhistoricaland ma-
terialistictrend of thought of the analysers.Yet such a fusion of art history
and psychoanalysishas also given us historicallyvalid and psychologically
convincing interpretationsof importantaspects of Oriental and Occidental
art. In recognition of such pioneering work, Thomas Mann dedicated his
Hindu legend The TransposedHeads to Heinrich Zimmer, a scholar who,
with a deep understandingof the context of myth and art in India has
worked towards such a fruitful fusion. We have gained in insight by psy-
choanalyticallytrained art historians who interpretedthe appearance,since
the second part of the 18th century,of physiognomicalstudies of "abnormal
cases"in sculpturesand paintings.The art of the insane and of prisoners,but
most of all the creativework of children,have been examinedin the light of
such researchand have given us access to a deeper understandingof the
creative process. The very fact that such combinationsof disciplines have
been worked out successfullyand have provided us with clues to the nature
of myth, of obsessionsand of formalhabits, must be taken as an incentivefor
a muchwidermutualstimulation.
What have been the majorresultsto date of art history?Probablythe most
apparentis the gradualemergenceof the continuityin man's creativehistory.
205 Neumeyer: Victory without Trumpet
Fig. 2. Crater from Vix, Burgundy, about
500 B.C.

There graduallyhas risen the picture of a continuousand universalpractice

of the arts from Pekingto Oslo and from Cheopsto Chagall.While the recent
decipheringof the Minoan scriptas a Greekidiom has pushedthe beginnings
of Greek history back to the flowering cultureof Crete in 1500 B.C., other
modern discoverieshave widened the orbit of Greek art from Gandharaon
the Indian frontier to Burgundyin France. Only recentlythe excavationof
the tomb of a Celtic chieftain in Vix in Burgundyhas yielded magnificent
Greek bronze vessels from about 500 B.C. (fig. 2) which owe their exist-
ence on this remote spot to the barterof Mediterraneanartisticgoods for the
tin which was transporteddown from Cornwallto this distant trading place
on the "tin road." Moreover,the appearanceof Hellenistic acanthusfoliage
in Chinesepotteryof the Sung period, the Apollo like featuresof the Buddha
statues from Grandhara (Pakistan and Afghanistan) or the discovery of
Chinesesilks in Near Easternand Romantombsand of CentralAsiaticanimal
designs in Germanic metal art, reveal continuous cross fertilizations,with
the Greco-Romanworld as a focal point for the give-and-takealong the
caravanroads and riversfrom China to Scandinavia.
While Greco-Romanart has humanized, the Orient has supremely
spiritualizedthe world of images. This spiritualizationoccurredat the time
when Christianity,an Oriental mystery religion of salvation, began to re-
place the Olympian gods. One of the most puzzling questions facing art
CAJ XVI 3 206
history in the past has been where to look for the Orientalstyle from which
the early Christian,Syrianand Egyptianartisansand their Europeandisciples
had developed their semi-primitive,half-abstractand magic art. The solution
came in connectionwith British militaryactions at the conclusion of World
War I when the sand-covereddesert city of Dura-Europoswas discoveredat
the middle Euphrates.It revealed itself to the subsequentexcavations by
French and Americanexpeditionsas one of the most importantarcheological
sites since Pompeii came to light in the middle of the 18th century.Here all
the great civilizations of Antiquity met on the caravanroute to Persia and
left their tracesin the sand. Temples founded by the armyof Alexanderthe
Great and by the Roman legion from Palmyra,introducedEuropeanreligion
and art into the heart of the Middle East. In their shrines, Persians and
legionnairesworshippedthe hero-GodMithras,of whom anothertemple was
recentlydiscoverednear St. Paul's in London; Syriansadored the great Baal
of Hebrew defamation;Jews erected their synagoguewhich they covered-
against the Mosaic law-with picturesof Old Testamentstories, and finally,
some time before the destructionof the city by the Persians in 256 A.D.,
the Christiansbuilt a baptistrywith some of the earliest painted representa-
tions of New Testamentscenes. Not only was a melting pot of immeasurable
interest for the history of religion discovered,but here in the muralsof the
Temple of Baal (80 A.D.) one encountered an artistic style of magic
frontalitywhich clearly revealeditself as the Orientalantecedentof the early
Byzantine mosaics on the walls of the churches of Ravenna. Due to this
discovery, the unknown Oriental sources of the style of early Christianart
could be establishedin at least one major example whose existence, so far,
had been only a postulate. In the light of this new discoveryearly Christian
and Byzantineart can now be understoodas a dramaticdialoguebetweenthe
hieratic style of the Orient, as it was handed down in the East since 3000
B.C., and the naturalisticstyle of Greco-Romantradition.
While the excavation at Dura brought light to the "Dark Ages" of
Christianart, the discoveryof the muralsof Castelseprioilluminatedanother
period between the Byzantine and the Mediaeval epoch. This little country
church in Lombardylost its whitewash in 1944 and revealed a series of
Biblical frescoespainted in the liveliest late Antique manner (fig. 3) such as
hithertowas known only in copies of Byzantinebook illuminationsof the 5th
centuryexecuted500 yearslater (fig. 3). If the assigneddateof about700 A.D.
is correct(which has been contested), a missinglink has been insertedbetween
the art of dying Roman naturalismand that lively flowering of the arts at
the court of Charlemagneand his sons (800-850 A.D.) which is known
under the name of the CarolingianRenaissance.We might be hesitant to
entrust to a single and small monumentsuch far reachingconclusions,were
it not for the fact that the discoveryof Castelsepriois not an isolatedincident.
Within the last 20 yearsnew discoverieshave pushed the historyof mediaeval
207 Neumeyer: Victory without Trumpet
Fig. 3. Detail of fresco painting in church of Castelseprio, Lombardy.
About 700 A.D.?

mural painting back to the 9th and 10th centuries.Muensterin the Grisons
of Switzerlandand other sites the West of Francehave yielded totally un-
expected murals, while Northern Greece and Yugoslavia have shown the
extension of the Byzantinestyle in magnificentmural cycles from the 12th
to the 15th century.Clearly then, we can make out in the Byzantinerealm
and within the confines of the former Roman empire an unbroken con-
tinuity of Christianart from the days of Constantine(320 A.D.) to those
of Giotto and Dante (1300 A.D.).
By contrastto the approachin the United States,mediaevalresearchin
the variousEuropeancountrieshas put its supremeeffort in isolating the na-
tional characteristicsof art in the soil of the Middle Ages. Together with a
continuousanalysis of individual monuments,the establishmentof typically
French, German or Italian artistic languages became a main endeavor of
After decades of researchon the great cathedralsculptureof the 12th
and 13th centuries,the emphasisseems now to swing to churcharchitecture,
to stainedglass and the decorativearts.Throughthis pre-occupationwith the
CAJ XVI 3 208
history and the aestheticsof glass and metal, a deeper insight into the spirit
of an era has been gained, in which artistic expression did not concentrate
so much on representationas on symbolizationand decoration.Accordingly
color, light, transparencyand opaquenesshave been discoveredas instruments
of meaningsand carriersof conceptsof beautywhich disappearedat the end
of the Middle Ages.
With the realizationthat the Renaissancewas the period of the great
artist-individuals,the Saintsof a beauty-worshippingage, modernscholarship,
equipped with a refinedscience of attributionand purifiedof Romanticexal-
tation, has given a new status to the art of the monograph.Comprehensive
presentationsof Duerer, Leonardoand Michelangelohave been undertaken,
with a tendencyto favor a criticalevaluationof the works over a traditional
biographicalapproach.For the Baroque age Caravaggio,a favorite of con-
temporaryscholarship,has receivednot less than four monographsin as many
years, while Rembrandt,at last, has been given his first scholarlybiography
in English. Thus the biographicalapproachwith which art historyfirst made
its appearancein Vasari's Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects
(1550) appearsas a naturalliteraryform for the interpretationof the age
of rising individualism.
Interest in the post-Renaissanceextension of Europe overseas is re-
flected in the emergence of a new field of scholarship: Latin American
studies, investigatingthe artisticheritageof the Iberian realms on American
soil, embodied in thousands of churches,statues and paintings which have
added a so far totally unconsideredprovince to the art-geographicalmap of
the world. Thus an unknown chapterof a Gothic style in the New World,
lingering on for over a centuryafter its disappearancein Europe, has come
to light. The wonderful Mestizo Baroqueof Mexico, the PortugueseRococo
wonders of church architecturein the Brazilian mining province of Minas
Gerais, have enriched our outlook on the creativeachievementsof the New
World. The woodcarvers'"retablo"style impressedits ornateand flat carving
mannerupon the churchfacades of Mexico and createdan intriguingdecora-
tive style of ornamentationin the remotechurchesof the LakeTiticacaregion
in Peru and Bolivia. One of the most fascinatingfolk arts of the world here
conquereda monumentalarchitectureimported from Spain. And, of course,
the chapteron modern architecturecan never be written again without con-
siderationof North America'scontributionin this field.
This brings us to the modernepoch. Slowly the sense of a historicalcon-
tinuum begins to include our own period and its antecedentsin the 19th
century.In architecturethe stylistic garmentsof the eclecticages such as the
Neo-Gothic, the Victorian and the Art Nouveau architectureare beginning
to be examined.As a result one can now detect beneaththe pseudo-historical
costumes of the 19th century a new interest in structureas a generator of
form: the open ground plan, the curtainwall, the asymmetricalbalance,the
209 Neumeyer: Victory without Trumpet
use of steel and glass anticipated 20th century architecturefirst in such
subarchitecturalareas as the cheap "balloon frame" house, the prefabricated
cottage,the cast-ironcommercialstructuresof Chicago,the CrystalPalace and
the Eiffel Tower.
In the field of 19th and 20th centurypainting and sculpture,"dose up"
biographicalsketches supported by the recordingeye of the camera,which
can juxtapose the actualityof the motif next to its pictorial interpretation,
have given us so intimatea contactwith some of the great artiststhat we seem
witnessesto their studioand al-frescoexperiences.
A high standardof workmanshiphas been set by the cataloguesin book
form which Alfred Barr has introducedat the Museum of Modern Art in
New York and which so far remain,unsurpassed.Some of the great artists
of our own era as well as some of the main currentsof contemporaryart
have been given such careful biographical,bibliographicaland interpretative
examinationas previously only "Old Masters"had deserved. However, the
interpretationof the last and of our own century owes much to the great
non-professionalessayists:Roger Fry and Sir HerbertRead in England,Karl
Scheffler and Julius Meier-Graefe in Germany, Paul Valery and Andr6
Malraux in France, Jose Ortega y Gasset in Spain. Here historical writing
becomesin itself an aestheticachievement.
And more: the historyof the 19th centuryis being rewrittenin the 20th
as an act of historicaljustice. Never before had there been such a discrepancy
between the "official"taste and the judgmentof posterity.Juries, acquisition
committees and critics crowned works which we today have banished to
basements,and rejectedtrue masterslike Courbet,Manet, CUzanne,Ganuguin
and Van Gogh who had to wait for their resurrectionin our own century.
While Titian, Michelangelo,Poussinor Rubenswere recognizedin their own
lifetimes as the leadersin their field, the FrenchRevolutionand the Industrial
Revolutionbroughtthe dissociationbetweenthe creatorand the patronwhich
resulted in the popular success of conservativeor sentimentalartists whom
an unsophisticated,new middle-classpublic could follow. In this sense art
historyhas not only reconstructedthe past but has createdthe artisticactuality
of the 19th centuryas it was unknownto its own contemporaries.
Modern art history'sscope extends from the investigationand material
analysis of facts to the lofty structures of systematic interpretationsof
the meaning of artisticcreation.It has opened a vista of a battlefieldof con-
quering and declining culturesexpressingtheir creedsand dreamsin carved
gods and painted idyls. What was cherishedor feared, hoped for or newly
discoveredtook form in a world of images. This world of images revealed
itself as governed by formal expressionswhich showed unity of style com-
bined with infinite variety of individual traits. In restless but not senseless
motion these styles seem to have an evolutionarylife of their own. Within
them art was revealed, as Heinrich Schnaasewrote a hundred years ago, as
CAJ XVI 3 210
"the surest awarenessof a people and the embodiedjudgment of the values
of things."
The history of art dissolves the static art work again into a state of be-
coming, and makes it a living part of today. This polarity of approachre-
flects the very nature of life itself, because, as Ortega y Gasset has said,
"life is continuation,is survival into the moment which will arrive after now.
Life, therefore,suffersunderan inevitableimperativeof realisation."--"InSearch
of Goethe FromWithin." Partisan Review, December,1949, p. 1164.
Cezanneliked to speak about "realization"as the very essence of his heroic
struggle with his subjects.This "inevitableimperativeof realization"is the
verystuffof arthistory.
In these terms we can perhaps understandbetter the meaning of the
restorationof our "Victorywithout Trumpet."Not satisfiedwith the chance-
given appearanceof a mutilatedstatue,historicalinvestigationhas suggested
the most probable solution and by it has transformeda seemingly definite
status of "being" into an open situation of "becoming."It has exposed the
sediments of past life to the growth processes of the present mind, to its
store of knowledge and its perceptivesensibility.Without the trumpetsound
of poetic inspirationit won a quiet victory. Thus as an interpreterof man's
creative self-realization,art history gradually realizes itself.

Giovanni Domenico Ferretti (1692-1768) Harlequin as a Glutton. Ringling

Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida.-Lent to an exhibition "Disguises of
Harlequin" held at the University of Kansas Museum of Art.

211 Neumeyer: Victory without Trumpet