Greek Sculpture

Carol C. Mattusch

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:
Greek Sculpture

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In his History of the Art of Antiquity (1764; Winckelmann 2006 in General Overviews), J. J. Winckelmann proposed a chronology of Greek art based upon style. Following his lead, scholars used ancient literary sources to assign extant freestanding sculptures to artists and to name specific works mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History (Book 34 on bronze and Book 36 on marble), and by other ancient authors. Pliny’s separation of artists working in bronze from those working in marble revealed that the Greeks preferred bronze for their public sculpture, whereas it now appears that the Romans more often used marble for sculptures in public and in their homes. Pliny’s division of media and his prejudice against the art of his own times led scholars to distinguish between Greek bronze originals, which rarely survive, and Roman marble copies, of which there are many survivors. Even though this notion is now understood to be overly simplified, textbooks covering classical sculpture still tend to privilege bronzes over marbles. At the same time, Roman marble versions of classical statue types continue to be used as substitutes for lost Greek statues. Recent scholarship takes into account ancient technology, taste, and ancient art markets (Ridgway 1984 in Roman Copies, Modern Adaptations; Mattusch 1996 in Archaizing and Classicizing Sculpture), and modern bias (Donohue 2005 in General Overviews), and, along with traditional stylistic studies, yields a more balanced understanding of freestanding Greek sculpture and a far more revealing picture of Roman sophistication in the production of sculptures in the classical style. Studies of the ancient marble trade may help to pin down some chronological questions that cannot be solved purely on the basis of style and the literary testimonia, and new analyses of such famous works as the Aphrodite of Melos (Hamiaux 1998 in Museum Catalogues) and the widely popular classicizing reliefs of dancing maenads (see Alice A. Donohue, “Ai Bakchai choreuousi: The Reliefs of the Dancing Bacchantes,” Hephaistos 16/17 [1998/1999]: 7–46) are leading to the revision of textbooks. Excellent photographs are a valuable tool for research in this field, and works that have them are so noted, even if the accompanying texts are less useful. Because many works address not just freestanding sculpture and relief but also architectural sculpture they are included here, even though the subject is better suited to consideration with the buildings which the sculptures adorned. General textbooks on Greek art are not part of this bibliography.

Article.  10853 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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