Birds in a bush. (Detail)
"What mattered most was not prettiness but completeness. It was the artists' task to preserve everything as clearly and permanently as possible. So they did not set out to sketch nature as it appeared to them from any fortuitous angle. They drew from memory, according to strict rules which ensured that everything that had to go into the picture would stand out in perfect clarity." Gombrich's succinct and accurate description of the aesthetic of Egyptian art. In the detail above you can see the many patterns that Egyptian artists captured in their observation of various birds. " The inscription says : 'Canoeing in the papyrus beds, the pools of wild-fowl, the marshes and the stream, spearing with the two-pronged spear, he transfixes thirty fish; how delightful is the day of hunting the hippopotamus.' "
Winged Lion, on the road to the tomb of Prince Hsiao Hsiu,
near Nanking, made shortly after A.D. 500
"At that time, much of what we call typically Chinese in art had already developed. The artists were less fond of rigid angular forms than the Egyptians had been, and preferred swerving curves. When a Chinese artist had to represent a prancing horse, he seemed to fit it together out of a number of rounded shapes." The same can be said of Chinese sculpture, Gombrich continues, which always seems to twist and turn without losing solidity or firmness.
It should be noted that at one point while writing this entry I typed "Gombitch" instead of the correct "Gombrich". Then I laughed for 5 minutes.