National Geographic : 1912 Jan
THE GREEK BRONZES OF TUNISIA gories-bronzes for decorative purposes and statutes. When they were taken out of the water they were covered with thick deposits of seashells and mud. Curiously enough, the bronzes withstood their 2,000 years' sea-bath better than the marbles. In this short article we shall speak especially of the eight following bronzes: No. I is the god Eros, attributed to Praxiteles. He stands one meter 40 centimeters high, almost life-size. This god has just alighted from flying; his wings seem to fan the air. In his left hand he holds a bow (which is now missing). His right hand is lifted to his head and points to a crown of laurels, which has evidently just been won at archery. This statue when found had its legs badly battered in. The wings were missing, and only last year was his right arm found. Because of the size of this bronze, it is one of the most impor tant works of Greek art. To whom must it be attributed? It is incontestably an original and is probably by Praxiteles, because a Greek authority named Calus tige left behind the description of a bronze statue of the god Eros by Prax iteles which resembles in a most marvel ous way this bronze.' The following is a translation of Calustige's description: "It is an Eros, a work of art by Prax iteles-Eros himself, in the adolescent flower of his youth, with wings, carrying a bow, affixed to a base from which he cannot move. He gives us the illusion that he is going to fly away. He bends back his right arm toward the top of his head, and in his left hand he holds a bow. The weight of his body is carried on his left leg." Whoever this unknown sculptor was, the bronze not being signed, it is certain that we have an Eros here worthy of the famous sculptor. No. 2 is the statue of a satyr, starting to run. It stands 35 centimeters high. The movement is marvelous. The power and grace of his figure, crouched ready to spring, his arms outspread like a runner starting in a race, the frown on his face, his dilated nostrils, and his slightly opened mouth-all make him seem almost alive. The movements of his most realistic attitude are remark- able, resembling the school of Pergam towards the end of the third century B. C. This statue reminds one of the Gauls, especially the monument of'At tele I and the Dying Gaul in the museum of the Capitol at Rome, for "Diodore of Sicily" writes that the Gauls had hair which made them resemble a Pan, or satyr. No. 3 shows the cakewalk of the Gre cians 2,000 years ago. This little statu ette, 30 centimeters high, proves that the hobble skirt was not the creation of Paris dressmakers in 1911, but of some great modiste of Athens. These statuettes are extremely rare in Greek art, as they represent dwarfs with abnormally large heads and grotesque figures. Greek sculptors admired form in line so much that one rarely found ugly or comical works of art among them. The Romans at the time these figures were made en joyed watching the antics of dwarfs, male and female, and grotesque jesters during their banquets, and these three statuettes (pages 94, 95 and 97) were doubtless lifelike copies of some well known public entertainers. No. 4 is a pendant to the cakewalk dancer, 32 centimeters high. Her eyes are of ivory. She is swinging her foot behind her, whereas the foot of the danc ing figure is in front, with her head turned to the left. The former figure has her head turned to the right, and is crowned with a laurel wreath. No. 5 is a buffoon, or jester-height, 32 centimeters-which completes the series of three statuettes. He is repul sively ugly. He walks forward a la cake walk, with a twisted body and grimacing face. He had only one eye ,the left, and the round ball which forms his eye is in silver. This brilliant polished metal forms a curious contrast to the greenish bronze of his body, and gives him a devilish look. No. 6 is a small Eros, 42 centimeters high, advancing toward one, dancing and singing to the accompaniment of his lyre. He has a number of bracelets on his wrists and on his left thigh. His charm ing grace and elegance make one think of certain terra - cottas; for example, those of Mvrima.