History Of The World’s Art – Hermann Leicht

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In this book the  author traces the evolution of artistic expression from the cave-painting and bone-carvings of the glacial epoch to the architecture,painting and sculpture of the present day.While the greater part of the volume is devoted to the development of European art, from its roots in the Hellenic world,through the stages of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance,Baroque, Rococo,Classic and Romantic art,to the impressionism of yesterday and the Expressionism of today,there are also chapters on the art of Ancient  Egypt,Africa, Australia and Oceania, pre-Columbian America,India, China, Japan, Russia and Islam.Just as Byzantine art was connected with a religion rather than with any particular people, so the art of Islam is by no means exclusively Arab, but is based on the spiritual attitude of Islam- which means Submission(to the will of God)-the name given by Mohammed to the religion which he founded and preached.This was the second great  attempt to develop and complete the Jewish faith.Similarities in the character of Byzantine and Mohammedan monotheism produced a similarity in the art of the two religions.In spite of differences in detail,the art of each shows a tendency toward the abstract,with none of that confident surrender to the physical world shown by the Greeks.It was not caprice,but spiritual compulsion, which made the Jews prohibit images; and this aversion led to the most violent and momentous disputes between Byzantine and Mohammedans, Byzantine and Islamic art, directed entirely by religion,can only be appreciated if one understands their spiritual and intellectual foundations;and only then can one see how miraculous was the appearance in Europe of the Romanesque style, which enriched Christian art for the first time with a magnificent sculpture.The mosque is, above all,the principal form of Islamic architecture.At its simplest it consists of a rectangular court, the haram, with  a basin in the centre serve the purpose of religious purification,and often surrounded by colonnades roofed with cuplos.On the eastern side of the court,in the direction of Mecca,is the house of prayer; of no great height, it is divided by rows of columns.In the wall opposite the entrance is the mihrab,a niche or chamber which to a certain extent corresponds to the Christian altar.Among Nomadic peoples cloths of all kinds play the most important part in the household, and, according to the reports of contemporary writers,Mohammed’s own house contained a great wealth of woven fabrics.In the tent which served as his presence-chamber in Medina all kinds of cloths and carpets were displayed.The prophet,who, until he was forty,when he ceased to care for earthly things,had worked and lived on the caravan routes as a travelling merchant, never lost his appreciation of beautiful fabrics, and his people bought them for him in the foreign markets.

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