Parthagica Directory 09
With Duerer and Holbein German art reached its apogee in the first half of the sixteenth century, yet their work was not different in spirit from that of their predecessors. Painting simply developed and became forceful and expressive technically without abandoning its early character. There is in Duerer a naive awkwardness of figure, some angularity of line, strain of pose, and in composition oftentimes huddling and overloading of the scene with details. There is not that largeness which seemed native to his Italian contemporaries. He was hampered by that German exactness, which found its best expression in engraving, and which, though unsuited to painting, nevertheless crept into it. Within these limitations Duerer produced the typical art of Germany in the Renaissance time--an art more attractive for the charm and beauty of its parts than for its unity, or its general impression. Duerer was a travelled man, visited Italy and the Netherlands, and, though he always remained a German in art, yet he picked up some Italian methods from Bellini and Mantegna that are faintly apparent in some of his works. In subject he was almost exclusively religious, painting the altar-piece with infinite care upon wooden panel, canvas, or parchment. He never worked in fresco, preferring oil and tempera. In drawing he was often harsh and faulty, in draperies cramped at times, and then, again, as in the Apostle panels at Munich, very broad, and effective. Many of his pictures show a hard, dry brush, and a few, again, are so free and mellow that they look as though done by another hand. He was usually minute in detail, especially in such features as hair, cloth, flesh. His portraits were uneven and not his best productions. He was too close a scrutinizer of the part and not enough of an observer of the whole for good portraiture. Indeed, that is the criticism to be made upon all his work. He was an exquisite realist of certain features, but not always of the _ensemble_. Nevertheless he holds first rank in the German art of the Renaissance, not only on account of his technical ability, but also because of his imagination, sincerity, and striking originality.
About this time a really great man was placed at the head of the Carthaginian army--a man who, at an earlier period of the war, might have brought the struggle to a very different termination. This was the celebrated Hamilcar Barca, the father of the still more celebrated Hannibal. He was still a young man at the time of his appointment to the command in Sicily (B.C. 247). His very first operations were equally daring and successful. Instead of confining himself to the defense of Lilybaeum and Drepanum, with which the Carthaginian commanders had been hitherto contented, he made descents upon the coast of Italy, and then suddenly landed on the north of Sicily, and established himself, with his whole army, on a mountain called Hercte (the modern _Monte Pellegrino_), which overhung the town of Panormus (the modern _Palermo_), one of the most important of the Roman possessions. Here he maintained himself for nearly three years, to the astonishment alike of friends and foes, and from hence he made continual descents into the enemy's country, and completely prevented them from making any vigorous attacks either upon Lilybaeum or Drepanum.