Greek And Roman Art : Art History (2)

Art Periods/ Movements: Greek and Hellenistic (850B.C.–31 B.C.)

Characteristics: Greek idealism: balance, perfect proportions; architectural orders(Doric, Ionic, Corinthian)

Chief Artists and Major Works: Sculpture was a very important aspect of Greek culture.  It was a way to gain fame, wealth and prosperity.  Being a sculptor was a highly prestigious occupation because the Greeks admired the human being and its greatness. The major sculptors include Praxiteles, Phidias, Myron, Polykleitos

Praxiteles ( 400- 330B.C):The most famous and esteemed sculptor of Greek culture was Praxiteles.  Praxiteles’s career spanned from the 370s to the 340s BC (during the latter end of the Hellenic Period into the Hellenistic Period of Greece.


Medaillon representing Praxiteles

Praxiteles of Athens was the son of Cephisodotus the Elder. He was the most renowned of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century BC. He was the first to sculpt the nude female form in a life-size statue. While no indubitably attributable sculpture by Praxiteles is extant, numerous copies of his works have survived; several authors, including Pliny the Elder, wrote of his works; and coins engraved with silhouettes of his various famous statuary types from the period still exist.

Some writers have maintained that there were two sculptors of the name Praxiteles. One was a contemporary of Pheidias, and the other his more celebrated grandson. Though the repetition of the same name in every other generation is common in Greece, there is no certain evidence for either position.

Parthenon: It was built to replace an older temple destroyed by the


Persians, the Parthenon was constructed at the initiative of Pericles, the leading Athenian politician of the 5th century BC. It was built under the general supervision of the Athenian sculptor Pheidias, who also had charge of the sculptural decoration. The architects were Iktinos and Kallikrates. The purpose of the building was to house a 40-foot high statue of   Parthenon which was sculpted by Pheidias.

Construction began in 447 BC and the building was substantially completed by 438 BC, but work on the decorations continued until at least 433 BC.


Phidias, also spelled Pheidias   (c. 490–430 BC): He was the son of Charmides, and is generally acknowledged as the greatest ancient Greek sculptor and instigator of the classical style of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Although few facts are known about his life as no originals of his work exist, but his recognition as a renowned sculptor has been guaranteed due to the praise of ancient writers, as well as the influence his sculptures had on the development of the art. He gained most of his fame for his two enormous chryselephantine (gold and ivory) sculptures: One of Athena in the Parthenon, and the other of Zeus at Olympia. These statues had such a profound impact that they determined all subsequent conceptions of Athena and Zeus.


Myron Minotaur, from a fountain in Athens, part of Myron’s lost group of Theseus and the Minotaur (National Archaeological Museum of Athens).


Myron of Eleutherae (480 BC – 440 BC) : He was an Athenian sculptor from the mid-5th century BC. He was born in Eleutherae on the borders of Boeotia and Attica. He worked exclusively in bronze, and  he made some statues of gods and heroes.

Polykleitos (Polyclitus) (5th century BC): He is considered one of the


most important and greatest sculptors of classical antiquity, along with Phidias and Myron.He created mainly bronze sculpture and his most famous works, none of which survive today except in replica, include his Kanon of Polykleitos and his Amazon figure. Little detail is known of Polykleitos’ life. Born in Sicyon or Argos, according to Pliny, he was taught the art of sculpture by Ageladas of Argos – the same teacher who taught both Phidias and Myron. According to Greek opinion at the time, he was considered the equal of Ageladas.

Historical Events: Athens defeats Persia at Marathon (490 B.C.); Peloponnesian Wars (431 B.C.– 404 B.C.); Alexander the Great’s conquests (336 B.C.–323 B.C.)

Art Periods/ Movements: Roman (500 B.C.– A.D. 476)

Characteristics: Roman realism: practical and down to earth; the arch

Major Works: Augustus of Primaporta :


Is a 2.03m high marble statue of Augustus Caesar. It’s dating is widely contested. It is thought to be a copy of a bronze original. The sculptor may have been Greek. This original was devoted to Augustus by the Senate in 20 BC and set up in a public place. The marble statue, however, was found in his wife’s villa which was discovered on April 20, 1863, in the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta, near Rome. The sculpture is now displayed in the Braccio Nuovo of the Vatican Museums.

The Roman Colosseum or Coliseum: Is originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It was commissioned in AD 72 by Emperor Vespasian. It was completed by his son, Titus, in 80, with later improvements by Domitian. The Coliseum is huge, an ellipse 188m long and 156 wide. Originally 240 masts were attached to stone corbels on the 4th level.


Just outside the Coliseum is the Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino), a 25m high monument built in AD315 to mark the victory of Constantine over Maxentius at Pons Milvius.


Vespesian ordered the Colosseum to be build on the site of Nero’s palace, the Domus Aurea, to dissociate himself from the hated tyrant.
His aim was to gain popularity by staging deadly combats of gladiators who were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals and wild animal fights for public viewing. Massacre was on a huge scale: at inaugural games in AD 80, over 9,000 wild animals were killed.

Trajan’s Column: It is a Roman triumphal column in Rome, Italy, that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. It was probably constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate.


It is located in Trajan’s Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum. Completed in AD 113, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, which artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians . Its design has inspired numerous victory columns, both ancient and modern.

Pantheon: This is a building in Rome, Italy, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) and rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian about 126 AD.


The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft).

It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs” but informally known as “Santa Maria Rotonda.” The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda.

Historical Events: Julius Caesar assassinated (44 B.C.); Augustus proclaimed Emperor (27 B.C.); Diocletian splits Empire (A.D. 292); Rome falls (A.D. 476)