(fl. c. 475—450 bc)

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Painter, of Thasos. Pliny the Elder dates him before 420 bc. Three post‐Persian‐Wars buildings in Athens—the first two having links with Cimon—housed panel paintings: the Theseum (hero‐shrine of Theseus), the Stoa Poecile, and the Anakeion (the temple of the Dioscuri). See athens, topography. It is not certain that Polygnotus' work adorned the Theseum. He was represented in the Stoa Poecile by his earlier version of the ‘Sack of Troy’. To the Anakeion he contributed his ‘Rape of the daughters of Leucippus’. One of these two works earned him Athenian citizenship. Later, for the club‐house for citizens of Cnidus visiting Delphi, he painted a grander ‘Sack of Troy’ and also an ‘Underworld’.

Pausanias 3's description of the Cnidian club‐house reveals Polygnotus' innovative variable groundline and distribution of figures, reflected in the Niobid Painter krātēr. He was praised by Aristotle and Lucian for livelier and more expressive faces than before. Pliny credits him with originating transparent drapery, and depicting open mouths. Many of the elements of his art had appeared sporadically before, but he combined them to represent men of high moral purpose (ēthos) and ‘better than ourselves’, often either taking a decision or in the reaction after the event. For Theophrastus and others he was a primitive (he did not use shading), but still the first great painter.

See painting, greek.

See painting, greek.

Subjects: Architecture — Classical Studies.

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