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Quintilian on Painting and Statuary

  • R. G. Austin (a1)

The clear affinity between Quintilian's art-criticism (xii. 10. 3–9) and the comparable portions of Pliny's Natural History has often been remarked. Pliny's principal sources for his chapters on art have long been recognized as going back through Varro to the great third-century critics, Xenocrates of Sicyon and Antigonus of Carystus, the latter of whom worked over Xenocrates' treatise and incorporated new material of his own; an earlier Greek source was Duris of Samos, on whom Antigonus drew for the anecdotic element in his tradition. The careful work of many patient scholars has been successful in disentangling to a considerable extent the characteristic contributions of these and other authorities to Pliny's medley of information. On the other hand, Quintilian's incursion into the same field seems never to have been studied independently, but only incidentally to research on the Plinian sources. The purpose of this paper is to examine Quintilian's contribution afresh; my indebtedness to earlier studies, in particular to those of Robert, will be readily apparent.

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page 17 note 1 A convenient and fascinating summary appears in the introduction to Jex-Blake-Sellers, The Elder Pliny's Chapters on the History of Art (London, 1896); see also Furtwängler A., ‘Plinius und seine Quellen fiber die bildenden Kunste’ (Jahrb.f. class. Philologie, Suppl. Bd. ix, 18771878), Robert C., ‘Archäologische Märchen aus alter und neuer Zeit’ (Philologische untersuckungen, Heft x, 1886), Münzer F., ‘Zur Kunst-geschichte des Plinius (Hermes, xxx, 1895), Kalkmann A., Die Quellen der Kunstgeschichte des Plinius (Berlin, 1898).

page 18 note 1 Si Euphranor fut le plus érudit des artistes, Cicéron se montra le plus artiste des lettrés’ (Bertrand E., Études sur la peinture dans l'antiquité, Paris, 1893, p. 320–a work in which Cicero's interest in art is discussed with the sympathy and understanding peculiar to French scholars).

page 19 note 1 See Wilamowitz–Möllendorff, ‘Antigonos von Karystos’ (Philologische Untersuchungen, Heft iv, 1881); Sellers summarizes his conclusions (pp. xxxvi ff.).

page 19 note 2 Pliny concludes his notice of Timanthes with the highly rhetorical remark ‘in unius huiusoperibus intellegitur plus semper quam pingitur et, cum sit ars summa, ingenium tamen ultra artem est’. His description of the Iphigenia bears marked resemblances to Quintilian's account of the same painting in ii. 13. 13; see the discussion in Kalkmann, p. 108.

page 22 note 1 Robert's view of this passage (p. 74) is inexplicable, as Kalkmann realized; he takes ille vero to refer to Homer, not to Parrhasius ‘wie Brunn …. und Overbeck … wunderlicher Weise meinen’; thus he regards the phrase legum lator to imply Homer also. Goethe knew better, in his version of these sections in his Schriften zur Kunst.

page 22 note 2 Cf. Pliny, xxxv. 71 ‘namque et cognomina usurpavit habrodiaetum se appellando aliisque versibus principem artis et earn ab se conille summatam’; Zeuxis' retort to Parrhasius' boast is couched in similar language, and affords further support for my interpretation of Quintilian (quoted by Aristides, Or. xlix, ‘Hρ⋯κλεια πατρ⋯σ, Zεὖξισ δ' ὂνομ’ εἰ δ⋯ τισ ἂνδρων | ⋯μετ⋯ρησ τ⋯χνησ πε⋯ρατ⋯ πησιν ἓχειν | δειξασ νικ⋯τω).

page 23 note 1 It is not clear whether Quintilian intends his list to be taken in strict chronology; certainly Lysippus, Praxiteles, and Demetrius are not chronologically named, but his scale of progress does imply that Myron preceded Polyclitus. See Robert, p. 49 f., for a full discussion.

page 23 note 2 Cic. Brut. 70 ‘quis enim … non intellegit Canachi signa rigidiora esse quam ut imitentur veritatem; Calamidis dura ilia quidem, sed tamen molliora quam Canachi; nondum Myronis satis ad veritatem adducta, iam tamen quae non dubites pulchra dicere: pulchriora etiam Polycliti et iam plane perfecta, ut mihi quidem videri solent.’ It is noticeable that the brief remarks on painting which follow this passage have nothing in common with Quintilian's judgement of the painters, neither have those in de or. iii. 26.

page 23 note 3 Similar criteria are to be seen in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, de Isocr. ch. 3 π⋯πυκε γ⋯ρ ⋯ δυσ⋯ου λ⋯ξισ ἔχειν τ⋯ χαρ⋯εν, ⋯ δ⋯ 'ισοκρ⋯τουσ βουλεται. ταυ7tau;αισ μ⋯ν δ⋯ ταῖσ υρερει δυσισυ κατ⋯ γουν τ⋯ν ⋯μ⋯ν. προτερει δ⋯ ⋯ δ⋯ 'ισοκρ⋯τουσ βουλεται. ταυ7tau;αισ μ⋯ν δ⋯ ταῖσ υρερει δυσισυ κατ⋯ γουν τ⋯ν ⋯μ⋯ν. προτερει δ⋯. Note also Demetrius, π. ερμ 14; Dio Chrysostom 12, p. 403 R.; Strabo viii. 372; Lucian, Rhet. Praec. 9 (Robert, pp. 52, 56).

page 24 note 1 Cf. Furtwängler, p. 35; he remarks that greater biographical detail and more accurate knowledge was available concerning the painters and their work.

page 24 note 2 See the passages conveniently collected by Assfahl G., Vergleich und Metapher bei Quintilian (Stuttgart, 1932), pp. 54 ff.

page 25 note 1 Unfortunately inaccessible to me; his conclusions are criticized by Fraenkel M. (Jahrb.d. kais. d. arch. Inst. vi, 1891, pp. 49 ff.; cf. Pfuhl, p. 728).

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