29 MAY 1936, Page 32

HELLENISTIC ARCHITECTURE - - - By Theodore Fyfe Nothing is

more instructive in the history of the arts than- those rare cases of a style springing up in different places mut at different times, containing essentially the same features on the two occasions, but _without there being any possibility of direct influence. An example of this is the parallel between the 'Hellenistic architecture of certain parts of the Near East and the Baroque style. Put the Market at .Miletus by S. Maria in Campitelli, and you see exactly the same method of obtaining effects of deep relief by throwing out superimposed orders of columns standing very free and by breaking entabla- tures and Pediments. In the so-called Circular Temple at Baalbek you have, a plan worthy of a. Dientzenhofer. The scenic effect in the Temple of Bacchus .at Baalbek recalls Bernini or Juvara. The rock-cut facades at Petra might be by .Borrominr, El Deir having the exact play of convex edicule against concave entablature which we- find in S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. And it is worth mentioning, in passing. the sculptures on the great altar of Pergainum which can be ahnost exactly paralleled in Algardi and Bertha. In all these cases there can be no question of direct influence since the Hellenistic originals were not known in Italy at the time when the Baroque monuments were produced. The explana- tion of the similarity must therefore be of a different kind and is presumably tb be found in a similarity in the general social condition in which the two arts were produced. The rise of Hellenistic architecture comes at the moment when the Greek democratic city-states were being replaced by a -series of more or less autocratic monarchies ; the Baroque is the product of the religious and political absolutism which destroyed the democratic city republics in Italy and with them the classical style of architecture which_they _had produced. Mr. Fyfe. in his Hellenistic Architecture (Cambridge, 21s.), has produced the first systematic history in English of the Baroque phase of ancient architecture.. - His book eontains a great deal of first-hand observation and a useful. bringing together ofalready acquired material. The 'subject is treated with thoroughness. the general development -being -first considered and, in -later chapters, the various kinds of Hellenistic buildings-temples, tombs and . so on-being dealt with separately. It is not always eti-sy 'to see what -logical prodess has led the author from one sentence or paragraph to the next, but the student of architecture will find here the matter for a full under- . standing of Hellenistic architecture.