Abbildungen der Seite
[merged small][graphic][graphic][merged small]
[ocr errors][graphic]

Romans of preparing a tomb during life; but in this case, either by withdrawal of the legion from Deva, or the removal of the maker of the monument before his death, the tomb remained empty and uninscribed. There is a possible explanation of the blank and unfilled spaces for the second inscription on some stones: it may be that the Roman occupation had ended before the death of the person for whom the panel was intended.

There are many instructive points to be gathered from a study of the great variety in artistic merit and design which these sculptures present. They range from fine and delicately-wrought bassi relievi, equal to some of the Greek Stelae in refinement and grace (such as that to a cavalry soldier, who is depicted driving before him a crouching Briton, and whose portrait bust occupies a small niche at the top of the stone) down to the wholly debased and puerile execution of the figure of M. Aurelius Nepos, in which every trace of classical design and all knowledge of the correct delineation of the human figure are lost. The impression one forms is that these sculptures were produced during a long period of time, and that the later ones—which show clear evidences of the decadence of art-workmanship and design—were wrought during the closing years of the Roman occupation. Another proof of this is that some of the stones are greatly weathered, while others show the tool-marks as freshly as if cut a year ago, among the latter being that to A. Nepos. In many of the intermediate examples the severe classical types are somewhat relaxed; a good instance of this less conventional treatment being the dancing figure [Plate A, fig. 1], where the movement of the drapery is admirably rendered. This figure also illustrates another characteristic of the sculptures, namely, the sketchy and clever


way in which the artist has produced his required effects with a few apparently coarse and rough lines, indicating the light and shade effect of sculptured work, without any elaboration. Further, it seems probable that in many cases the faces were carved by another hand than the rest of the tablets, in many of which there appear to be distinct attempts at portraiture, or, at all events, more care has been bestowed on the faces. In Plate A, fig. 3, the faces of the two children are well carved, and their individuality and difference in age admirably rendered; while the bodies, represented by half a dozen rough scorings, are mere sketches. Indications of this rudeness of finish are not due to weather or damage done to the stone, as might at' first be supposed. On the above-mentioned tablet to a horse soldier, two lions' heads are shown flanking the bust, which are of rough and grotesque work, the rest being excellent in design and carefully wrought. The same sketchy execution which marks many of the Chester stones is also to be found in some of the Roman relics in the London Guildhall Museum.

While the inscriptions give us the names, nationality, and some scanty details of the rank and occupation of those they commemorate, the sculptures add to the tale many details of costume, arms, customs, amusements, and mythology of the Roman garrison. Among the figures of Equites we have at least three types of helmets and armour. In Plate B, fig. 6, the figure of the rider is armed with a mascled, or scaled, lorica, or coat of mail, 'almost identical with those Norman suits shown in the Bayeux tapestry, which terminate in short breeches continuous with the hauberk. The monument to Aurelius Lucius gives us a helmet with cheek pieces and a crest, and the short Roman

[merged small][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »