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Classical Greek and Roman Art

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Title: Classical Greek and Roman Art


1
Classical Greek and Roman Art
2
The art of Ancient Greece is usually divided
stylistically into three periods the Archaic,
the Classical and the Hellenistic. The Archaic
age is usually dated from about 1000 BC, although
in reality little is known about art in Greece
during the preceding 200 years (traditionally
known as the Dark Ages). The onset of the Persian
Wars (480 BC to 448 BC) is usually taken as the
dividing line between the Archaic and the
Classical periods, and the reign of Alexander the
Great (336 BC to 323 BC) is taken as separating
the Classical from the Hellenistic periods.
Art historians generally define Ancient Greek art
as the art produced in the Greek-speaking world
from about 1000 BC to about 100 BC. They
generally exclude the art of the Mycenaean and
Minoan civilizations, which flourished from about
1500 to about 1200 BC. Despite the fact that
these were Greek-speaking cultures, there is
little or no continuity between the art of these
civilizations and later Greek art. At the other
end of the time-scale, art historians generally
hold that Ancient Greek art as a distinct culture
ended with the establishment of Roman rule over
the Greek-speaking world in about 100 BC.
3
Archaic Art The Archaic sculptures are silent
witnesses to the extraordinary development
western society was about to undertake. The
Kouros and Kore statues stand before a cultural
revolution, all muscles tense, like a spring
about to burst with energy into an extraordinary
wave of classical thought. They stand with smiles
frozen with meaning as if they knew what was
about to occur
Kouros Lifesize, circa 540 B.C. From the island
of Melos.
4
The Classical Period From the National Museum of
Athens The ancient Greek Artist invented his
own self and became the creator of god and man
alike in a universe of perfect formal
proportions, idealized aesthetic values and a
newly found sense of freedom. This was a freedom
from barbarism and tyranny.
Zeus of Artemision Bronze, circa 460 - 450
B.C. 2.09 m (6' 10.5") high, 2.10 m (6' 10.75")
fingertip to fingertip. Found in the sea near
cape Artemisio
5
Hellenistic Art The subtle implications of
greatness and humility of the high Classical era
are replaced with bold expressions of energy and
power during the moments of tension as evident in
the poses depicted during the Hellenistic era.
Poseidon of Melos Marble, circa 140 BC.
6
ARCHITECTURE Temples were Post and Lintel
constructions made mostly of stone and marble.
The base of the temple was called the stylobate.
ThePeri-style was a row of columns that
surrounded all four sides of the temple and
supported a lintel area called the entablature.
The top most element of the entablature, the
cornice, supported a peaked roof.It was made of a
continuous band of carved stone called moldings.
At each end, the horizontal cornice of the
entablature and the raking (slanted) cornices of
the roof defined a triangular gable called the
pediment. There were three basic orders of
columns during this period the Doric, Ionic, and
Corinthian.
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The Doric order columns were
formed of round sections called drums which were
joined by metal pegs.A fluted shaft rose from the
stylobate without a base. At the top of the shaft
was the necking. The capital sits on the necking
it is made of the rounded echinus and the
tablet-like abacus. The entablature of the column
included the architrave, the frieze, and the
cornice. The height of Ionic order columns was
about nine times the diameter of the column at
its base the Doric order had a five and a half
to one ratio. The flutes in the shaft were deeper
and closer together and were separated by flat
surfaces called fillets. On top of these columns
was a thin cushion-like abacus with scrolled
volutes. The Corinthian order had elaborate
capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and
rosettes. They often had scrolled elements at the
corners and a boss, or projecting ornament at the
top center of each side.
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10
Acragas, Temple of Concord
11
The Acropolis at Athens View of the entire
complex
12
Athens, Parthenon, East facade
13
Temple of Poseidon 60 x 19.55 m (196 x 64
ft) Consisting of 39 columns and a cella with
three naves c. 450 BC
14
Terracotta stirrup jar with octopus, ca.
12001100 B.C. Late Helladic IIIC Helladic,
Mycenaean Terracotta H. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)
diameter 8 7/16 in. (21.5 cm)
The shape takes its name from the configuration
of the spout and the two attached handles. Such
jars were commonly used to transport liquids.
Mycenaean artists adopted the marine motifs from
Minoan antecedents.
15
Limestone sarcophagus the Amathus sarcophagus,
2nd quarter of the 5th century B.C. Archaic
Cypriot
16
The primary scenes, on the long sides, show a
procession of chariots escorted by attendants on
horseback and followed by foot soldiers. The main
personage is probably the driver, who is standing
under a parasol in the first chariot. His horses,
like the others, are richly caparisoned his
chariot resembles the others as well, except that
the wheel has fewer spokes. The decoration of the
short ends of the sarcophagus consists of a row
of Astarte figures, nude except for their double
necklaces and ear caps, and a row of Bes figures.
The choice of these two deities - one Near
Eastern, the other Egyptian - suggests the
importance of procreation to the deceased. The
figural panels are framed by a variety of vegetal
ornaments, while the gabled lid once featured a
pair of sphinxes and a palmette at each end. The
iconography as a whole documents the thorough
integration of Greek, Cypriot, and Oriental
features in middle fifth century B.C. works of
high quality.
17
During the Geometric period, monumental grave
markers were introduced in the form of large
vases, often decorated with funerary
representations. It was only in the Archaic
period that stone sculptures were used as
funerary monuments. On this magnificent krater,
the main scene, which occupies the widest portion
of the vase, shows the deceased laid upon a bier
surrounded by members of his household and, at
either side, mourners. For optimal clarity, the
dead man is shown on his side and the checkered
shroud that would normally cover the body has
been raised and regularized into a long rectangle
with two projections. The zone below shows a
procession of chariots and foot soldiers. The
figures may refer to the military exploits of the
deceased however, as hourglass shields and
chariots played a more limited role at this time
than in the earlier Bronze Age, the scene more
likely evokes the glorious ancestry and
traditions to which the dead man belonged.
Terracotta krater, ca. 750735 B.C. Geometric
Geometric Attributed to the Hirschfeld
Workshop Greek, Attic Terracotta H. 42 5/8 in.
(108.3 cm) diameter 28 1/2 in. (72.4 cm)
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19
These helmets, along with three mitrai (belly
guards) also in the Museum's collection, are the
finest pieces of a large cache of armor that came
to light in southern central Crete, where it was
undoubtedly made. The inscriptions suggest that
the armor was captured as booty and offered as a
dedication. In repoussé on both sides of one
helmet is a pair of winged youths grasping a pair
of intertwined snakes. Below them are two
panthers with a common head. The helmet is
inscribed "Neopolis." In repoussé on both sides
of the other helmet is a horse incised on each
cheekpiece is a lion. The inscription states that
Synenitos, son of Euklotas, took this object.
Two bronze helmets, Two helmets, late 7th century
B.C. Archaic Greek, Cretan Bronze H. of helmet
with horses and lions 9 5/8 in. (24.5 cm) H. of
helmet with winged youths 8 1/4 in. (21 cm)
20
This kouros is one of the earliest marble statues
of a human figure carved in Attica. The rigid
stance, with the left leg forward and arms at the
side, was derived from Egyptian art. The pose
provided a clear, simple formula that was used by
Greek sculptors throughout the sixth century B.C.
In this early figure, geometric, almost abstract
forms predominate, and anatomical details are
rendered in beautiful analogous patterns. The
statue marked the grave of a young Athenian
aristocrat.                                    
                                     
Marble statue of a kouros (youth), ca. 590580
B.C. Archaic Greek, Attica
21
On the shoulder, a seated woman, perhaps a
goddess, is approached by four youths and eight
dancing maidens on the body, women are making
woolen cloth. One of the most important
responsibilities of women in ancient Greece was
the preparation of wool and the weaving of cloth.
Here, in the center, two women work at an upright
loom. To the right, three women weigh wool.
Farther to the right, four women spin wool into
yarn, while between them finished cloth is being
folded. The Amasis Painter is named after the
potter, Amasis, who produced the vases.
Terracotta lekythos (oil flask), ca. 550530
B.C. Archaic Attributed to the Amasis
Painter Greek, Attic
22
Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and little
girl with capital and finial in the form of a
sphinx, Grave stele of a youth and a little girl
with finial in the form of a sphinx, ca. 530
B.C. Archaic Greek, Attic
23
The capital and crowning sphinx are plaster casts
of the originals, which are in the Metropolitan
Museum (on view separately). Athletics were an
important aspect of every boy's education. The
youth on the shaft is shown as an athlete. The
aryballos (oil flask) suspended from his wrist
contained the oil used as a cleanser after
exercise. He holds a pomegranate, a fruit
associated with both fecundity and death, perhaps
indicating that he reached puberty before his
death. The girl, presumably a younger sister,
holds a flower. This exceptionally lavish
monument, which stands more than thirteen feet
high, must have been erected by one of the
wealthiest aristocratic families. The capital and
crowning sphinx are plaster casts of the
originals, which are in the Metropolitan Museum
(on view separately). Athletics were an important
aspect of every boy's education. The youth on the
shaft is shown as an athlete. The aryballos (oil
flask) suspended from his wrist contained the oil
used as a cleanser after exercise. He holds a
pomegranate, a fruit associated with both
fecundity and death, perhaps indicating that he
reached puberty before his death. The girl,
presumably a younger sister, holds a flower.
24
This exceptionally lavish monument, which stands
more than thirteen feet high, must have been
erected by one of the wealthiest aristocratic
families. Some scholars have restored the name of
the youth in the inscription as Megakles, a name
associated with the powerful clan of the
Alkmeonidai, who opposed the tyrant Peisistratos
during most of the second half of the sixth
century B.C. The tombs of aristocratic families
were sometimes desecrated and destroyed as a
result of that conflict, and this stele may well
have been among those pillaged. The sphinx, a
mythological creature with a lion's body and a
human's head, was known in various forms
throughout the eastern Mediterranean region from
the Bronze Age onward. The Greeks represented it
as a winged female and often placed its image on
grave monuments to guard the dead. This sphinx,
which retains abundant traces of red, black, and
blue pigment, was carved separately from the
capital on which it stands. Its plinth was set
into a socket at the top of the capital and
secured by a metal dowel and a bed of molten
lead. The capital is in the form of two double
volutes (spiral scrolls) in the shape of a lyre.
The front face of the capital was originally
painted with a design of palmettes and volutes.
25
Scholars have restored the name of the youth in
the inscription as Megakles, a name associated
with the powerful clan of the Alkmeonidai, who
opposed the tyrant Peisistratos during most of
the second half of the sixth century B.C. The
tombs of aristocratic families were sometimes
desecrated and destroyed as a result of that
conflict, and this stele may well have been among
those pillaged. The sphinx, a mythological
creature with a lion's body and a human's head,
was known in various forms throughout the eastern
Mediterranean region from the Bronze Age onward.
The Greeks represented it as a winged female and
often placed its image on grave monuments to
guard the dead. This sphinx, which retains
abundant traces of red, black, and blue pigment,
was carved separately from the capital on which
it stands. Its plinth was set into a socket at
the top of the capital and secured by a metal
dowel and a bed of molten lead. The capital is in
the form of two double volutes (spiral scrolls)
in the shape of a lyre. The front face of the
capital was originally painted with a design of
palmettes and volutes.
26
Bronze diskos thrower, ca. 480460 B.C.
Classical Greek Bronze H. 9 5/8 in.
This superlative bronze embodies the highest
achievements of the early Classical period. The
athlete is about to swing the diskos forward and
over his head with his left hand, then transfer
it to his right hand, and finally release it with
the force of the accumulated momentum. The beauty
of the statuette lies in the calm and
concentrated physiognomy that forms part of a
perfectly developed and disciplined body.
27
This hydria, like all Greek art, is marked by
clearly defined parts organized into a harmonious
well-proportioned whole. The plain body swells
gently to the shoulder zone, which turns inward
with a soft cushionlike curve. The shoulder is
decorated with a simple shallow tongue pattern
that echoes the vertical ribbing on the foot. The
neck shoots from the shoulder to a flaring mouth
from which the bust of a woman seems to emerge.
The figure, which belongs to the vertical handle
of the vessel, wears a peplos and her serene face
is framed by carefully detailed hair. Rotelles
with a rosette pattern give a semblance of
outstretched hands. The inscription on the mouth
indicates that this hydria was a prize awarded at
games for the goddess Hera at her sanctuary in
Argos in the Peloponnesos.
Bronze hydria (waterjar), mid-5th century B.C.
Classical Greek, Argive
28
Marble grave stele of a little girl, ca. 450440
B.C. Classical Greek Marble, Parian H. 31 1/2
in.
This stele was found on the island of Paros in
1775. The gentle gravity of the child is
beautifully expressed through her sweet farewell
to her pet doves. Her peplos is unbelted and
falls open at the side, and the folds of drapery
clearly reveal her stance. Many of the most
skillful stone carvers came from the Cycladic
islands, where marble was plentiful. The sculptor
of this stele could have been among the artists
who congregated in Athens during the third
quarter of the fifth century B.C. to decorate the
Parthenon.
29
Winged Victory of Samothrace Marble, h. 3.28 m
(11 ft) Found on the island of Samothrace Around
190 BC Musée du Louvre, Paris
30
Bronze statue of Eros sleeping, 3rd century
B.C.early 1st century A.D. Hellenistic or
Augustan period Greek or Roman
31
Venus de Milo Parian marble, h 2.02 m (6 1/2
ft) Found at Milo 130-120 BC Musée du Louvre,
Paris
32
Discobolos (Discus Thrower) c. 450 BC Roman
marble copy after the bronze original by
Myron height 155 cm (61 in) Museo Nazionale
Romano, Rome
33
Hagesandros, Athenodoros and Polydoros of
Rhodes Laocoon and his sons c. 175-150 BC Marble,
height 242 cm (95 1/2 in) Museo Pio Clementino,
Vatican
34
Pair of silver scyphi (cups) with relief
decoration, late 1st century B.C.early 1st
century A.D. Early Imperial, Augustan Roman
These silver cups represent Roman metalwork of
the highest quality. They were undoubtedly
produced by one of the leading Roman workshops
that supplied the imperial family as well as
affluent, cultured, private individuals - the
same clientele for whom the villas around Rome
and Naples were built, decorated, and furnished.
They are decorated in high relief with figures of
cupids and partially gilt. The cupids, several of
whom are shown dancing and playing instruments,
may be associated with Dionysiac festivities and
are thus eminently suitable on vessels meant for
a drinking party.
35
Cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius
Synistor, ca. 4030 B.C. Republican Second
Style Roman Fresco
Room M of the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at
Boscoreale, buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in
A.D. 79, functioned as a bedroom.
36
Bronze portrait statue of a boy, late 1st century
B.C.early 1st century A.D. Early Imperial,
Augustan Roman
This bronze figure portrays a young member of a
wealthy Roman family. The style of the idealizing
portrait clearly indicates that the subject
wished to be shown in the guise of a prince of
the imperial family.
37
Ancient sculpture was painted. Although faint
remnants of polychromy can be discerned on some
objects, the original effect has been lost. This
vase provides a rare example of the actual
painting process, in which the encaustic pigments
were mixed with wax. On the obverse, an artist
paints a lion-skin on a marble statue of
Herakles, surrounded by two assistants, Zeus and
Nike. To the left of the statue, a youth tends a
charcoal brazier on which the wax mixture and the
tools are being warmed. The artist, to the right,
is recognizable by his cap and by his garment
worn so as to afford maximum coolness and freedom
of movement. A small container in his left hand
holds the pigment, which he applies with a tool
like a knife or spatula. Zeus and a Nike
(personification of victory) watch from on high,
and at the far right Herakles himself approaches.
On the reverse of the krater, Athena is seated
with one of Dioskouroi.
Terracotta column-krater (bowl for mixing wine
and water), ca. 360350 B.C. Late Classical
38
Marble bust of a bearded man, ca. A.D. 150175
Mid-Imperial, Antonine Roman
This masterful portrait bust represents a
vigorous middle-aged man who turns his head
slightly to his right and stares into the
distance with a critical, penetrating gaze. The
broad, square face is carefully modeled wide
furrows cut into the low forehead and at the
corners of the eyes, adding to the intensity of
the expression. One assumes that the sitter was a
contemporary man in the guise of a thinker rather
than this being a portrait of a practicing
philosopher.
39
Marble portrait of the emperor Caracalla, ca.
A.D. 217230 Mid-Imperial, Severan Roman Marble
H. 14 1/4 in.
This head is from a statue, other fragments of
which survive. Caracalla abandoned the luxuriant
hair and beard of his predecessors for a military
style characterized by close-cropped curls and a
stubble beard. Often finely carved, his portraits
look compact but convey an explosive energy
40
Roman Phrygian marble Overall 34 x 85 x 36 1/4
in.
41
The central figure is that of the god Dionysos
seated on a panther, but he is somewhat
overshadowed by four larger standing figures who
represent the four Seasons (from left to right,
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall). The figures
are unusual in that the Seasons are usually
portrayed as women, but here they are shown as
sturdy youths. Around these five central figures
are placed other Bacchic figures and cultic
objects, all carved at a smaller scale. On the
rounded ends of the sarcophagus are two other
groups of large figures, similarly intermingled
with lesser ones. On the left end, Mother Earth
is portrayed reclining on the ground she is
accompanied by a satyr and a youth carrying
fruit. On the right end, a bearded male figure,
probably to be identified with the
personification of a river-god, reclines in front
of two winged youths, perhaps representing two
additional Seasons. The sarcophagus is an
exquisite example of Roman funerary art,
displaying all the virtuosity of the workshop
where it was carved. Although the marble is
Phrygian, from central Anatolia (Turkey), the
stone was probably shipped to Rome and worked
there.
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