Dictionary of Art and Artists



History of

Architecture and Sculpture

















Geometric and Orientalizing Style
Doric Temples
Ionic Temples




This Athenian style, so harmonious in both feeling and form, did not long survive the defeat of Athens by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. Building and sculpture continued in the same tradition for another three centuries, but without the subtleties of the Classical age whose achievements we have just discussed. There is, unfortunately, no single word, like Archaic or Classical, that we can use to designate this third and final phase in the development of Greek art, which lasted from about 400 to the first century B.C. The 75-year span between the end of the Peloponnesian War and the rise of Alexander the Great used to be labeled "Late Classical," and the remaining two centuries and a half "Hellenistic," a term meant to convey the spread of Greek civilization southeastward to Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the borders of India. It was perhaps natural to expect that the world-shaking conquests of Alexander between 333 and 323 B.C. would also effect an artistic revolution. However, the history of style is not always in tune with political history. We have come to realize that there was no decisive break in the tradition of Greek art at the end of the fourth century. The art of the Hellenistic era is the direct outgrowth of developments that occurred, not at the time of Alexander, but during the preceding 50 years.

Here, then, is our dilemma: "Hellenistic" is a concept so closely linked with the political and cultural consequences of Alexander's conquest that we cannot very well extend it backward to the early fourth century, although there is wide agreement now that the art of the years 400 to 325 B.C. can be far better understood if we view it as pre-Hellenistic rather than as Late Classical. Until the right word is found and wins general acceptance, we shall have to make do with the existing terms as best we can, always keeping in mind the essential continuity of the third phase that we are about to examine.


The contrast between Classical and pre-Hellenistic is strikingly demonstrated by the only project of the fourth century that corresponds to the Parthenon in size and ambition, It is not a temple but a huge tombso huge, in fact, that its name, Mausoleum, has become a generic term for all oversized funerary monuments. It was designed by Pytheos of Priene and erected at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor just before and after 360 B.C. by Mausolus, who ruled the area as a satrap of the Persians, and his widow Artemisia. The structure itself is completely destroyed, but its dimensions and general appearance can be reconstructed on the basis of ancient descriptions and the excavated fragments, including a good deal of sculpture. The drawing in figure 203 does not pretend to be exact in detail. We do know, however, that the building rose in three stages to a height of about 160 feet. A tall rectangular base 117 feet wide and 82 feet deep supported a colonnade of Ionic columns 40 feet tall, and above this rose a pyramid crowned by a chariot with statues of Mausolus and Artemisia. The sculptural program consisted of two friezes showing Greeks battling Persians and Greeks fighting Amazons, each as long as the Parthenon frieze, with a row of Greek and Persian figures in between. Along the colonnade were thirty-six large statues of Mausolus' family. The roof featured a row of carved guardian lions and was surmounted by a huge quadriga, presumably with statues of the deceased.

The commemorative and retrospective character of the monument, based on the idea of human life as a glorious struggle or chariot race, is entirely Greek. Yet we immediately notice the un-Greek way it has been carried out. The huge size of the tomb, and more particularly the pyramid, derive from Egypt. They imply an exaltation of the ruler far beyond ordinary human status. His kinship with the gods may have been hinted at. Apparently Mausolus took this view of himself as a divinely ordained sovereign from the Persians, who in turn had inherited it from the Assyrians and Egyptians, although he seems to have wanted to glorify his individual personality as much as his high office. The structure embodying these ambitions must have struck his contemporaries as impressive and monstrous at the same time, with its multiple friezes and the receding faces of a pyramid in place of pediments above the colonnade.

203. Reconstruction drawing of the Mausoleum at


According to ancient sources, the sculpture on each of the four sides of the monument was entrusted to a different master, chosen from among the best of the time. Scopas, the most famous, did the main side, the one to the east. His dynamic style has been recognized in some portions of the Amazon frieze, such as the portion in figure 204. The Parthenon tradition can still be felt here, but there is also a decidedly un-Classical violence, physical as well as emotional, conveyed through strained movements and passionate facial expressions. (Deep-set eyes are a hallmark of Scopas' style.) As a consequence, we no longer find the rhythmic flow of the Parthenon frieze. Continuity and harmony have been sacrificed so that each figure may have greater scope for sweeping, impulsive gestures. Clearly, if we are to do justice to this explosive, energetic style we must not judge it by Classical standards. What the composition lacks in unity, it more than makes up for in bold innovation (note, for instance, the Amazon seated backward on her horse) as well as heightened expressiveness. In a sense, Scopas turned backward as well to the scenes of violent action so popular in the Archaic period. We will recognize its ancestor in the Siphnian Battle of the Gods and Giants (fig. 161), although he clearly learned from the example of the Parthenon metopes as well (see fig. 198).

204. SCOPAS (?). Battle of the Greeks and Amazons, from the east frieze of the Mausoleum, Halicarnassus.
B.C. Marble, height 35" (89 cm). British Museum, London

, (flourished 4th century bc), Greek sculptor and architect of the late classical period who was ranked by ancient writers with Praxiteles and Lysippus as one of the three major sculptors of the second half of the 4th century bc. Scopas was influential in establishing the expression of powerful emotions as artistic themes. He was a native of Paros and probably belonged to a family of artists on that Greek island.

According to ancient writings, Scopas worked on three major monuments of the 4th century: the temple of Athena Alea at Tegea (in Arcadia), the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The temple of Athena Alea was a new temple, begun some time after 394 bc. The 2nd-century-ad Greek traveler Pausanias says that Scopas worked as architect as well as sculptor at the temple. He mentions him as the artist responsible for the statues of Asclepius and Hygieia that stood inside the temple on each side of the image of Athena Alea. It is also possible that Scopas worked on the pedimental sculptures of this temple, including extant fragments depicting the hunt of the Calydonian boar, which are preserved in the National Archaeological Museum at Athens. These extant heads show a highly forceful and individual style and may give an idea of Scopas’ work; the heads have squarish forms, deep-set eyes, and tense features that convey a strong emotional intensity.

According to the 1st-century-ad Roman writer Pliny, Scopas carved the reliefs adorning one of the columns of the temple of Artemis, but, of the three decorated columns remaining, it is not likely that any are Scopas’ work. He also worked on the sculptures of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus with Bryaxis, Timotheus, and Leochares.

Scopas is now believed to be the sculptor of a group representing the destruction of the daughters of Niobe, formerly attributed to either Scopas or Praxiteles. Copies of the Niobe statues are in the Uffizi, Florence. Of the many freestanding sculptures attributed to Scopas, the “Maenad” (State Art Collection, Dresden) and the “Pothos” (“Longing”) in the collection of the Palazzo dei Conservatori at Rome are the most noteworthy.

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"Mausolus," from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
. 360 B.C. Marble, height 9'10" (3.1 m). British Museum, London

The "pre-Hellenistic" flavor is even more pronounced in one of the portrait statues, sometimes presumed to represent Mausolus himself (fig.
205), from the colonnade. The figure must be the work of a man younger than Scopas and even less encumbered by Classical standards, probably Bryaxis, the master of the north side. Through Roman copies, we know of some Greek portraits of Classical times, but they seem to represent types rather than individuals. Such is probably the case here, for he is a distinctly non-Greek sort; not until Hellenistic times were individual likenesses to play an important part. The figure nevertheless possesses a surprisingly personal character in the head, with its heavy jaws and small, sensuous mouth. The thick neck and the broad, fleshy body seem equally individual. The massiveness of the forms is further emphasized by the sharp-edged and stiff-textured drapery, which might be said to encase, rather than merely clothe, the body. The great volumes of folds across the abdomen and below the left arm seem designed for picturesque effect more than for functional clarity.



Some of the features of the Mausoleum sculpture recur in other important works of the period. Foremost among these is the wonderful seated figure of the goddess Demeter from her temple at Cnidus (fig. 206), a work only slightly later in date than the Mausolus. Here again the drapery, though more finely textured, has an impressive volume of its own, while motifs such as the S-curve of folds across the chest form an effective counterpoint to the shape of the body beneath. The deep-set eyes gaze into the distance with an intensity that suggests the influence of Scopas. The modeling of the head, on the other hand, has a veiled softness that points to an altogether different source: Praxiteles, the master of feminine grace and sensuous evocation of flesh.

206. Demeter, from Cnidus. ñ. 340-330 B.C.
Marble, height 60" (152.3 cm). British Museum, London


As it happens, Praxiteles' most acclaimed statue, an Aphrodite (fig. 207), was likewise made for Cnidus, although probably several decades later than the Demeter. But his reputation was well established even earlier, so that the unknown sculptor who carved the Demeter would have had no difficulty incorporating some Praxitelean qualities into his own work. The Cnidian Aphrodite by Praxiteles achieved such fame that she is often referred to in ancient literature as a synonym for absolute perfection. To what extent her renown was based on her beauty, or on the fact that she was (so far as we know) the first completely nude cult image of the goddess, is difficult to say, for the statue is known to us only through Roman copies that can be no more than pallid reflections of the original. She was to have countless descendants in Hellenistic and Roman art.

207. Cnidian Aphrodite. Roman copy after an
original of ñ 350 B.C. by PRAXITTXES.
Marble, height 6'8" (2 m). Vatican Museums, Rome

So-called "Aphrodite Braschi", free copy
(1st century BC) after a votive statue of Praxitele
in Cnidus ("
Cnidian Aphrodite" type, ca. 350–340 BC).

A more faithful embodiment of Praxitelean beauty is the group of Hermes with the infant Bacchus (fig. 208). Pausanias mentions seeing such a statue by Praxiteles at the Temple of Hera at Olympia, where this marble was excavated in 1877. It is of such high quality that it was long regarded as Praxiteles' own work, though most scholars now believe it to be a very fine later Greek copy. The dispute is of little consequence for us, except perhaps in one respect: it emphasizes the unfortunate fact that we do not have a single undisputed original by any of the famous sculptors of Greece. Nevertheless, the Hermes is the most completely Praxitelean statue we know. The lithe proportions, the sinuous curve of the torso, the play of gentle curves, the sense of complete relaxation (enhanced by the use of an outside support for the figure to lean against), all agree well enough with the character of the Cnidian Aphrodite. We also find many refinements here that are ordinarily lost in a copy, such as the caressing treatment of the marble, the faint smile, the meltingly soft, "veiled" modeling of the features. Even the hair, left comparatively rough for contrast, shares the silky feel of the rest of the work. Here, for the first time, is an attempt to modify the stony look of a statue by giving to it the illusion of an enveloping atmosphere.

208. PRAXITELES. Hermes, ñ. 320-300 B.C. (or copy?).
Marble, height 7'1" (2.2 m).
Archaeological Museum, Olympia


Praxiteles, (flourished 370–330 bc), greatest of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century and one of the most original of Greek artists. By transforming the detached and majestic style of his immediate predecessors into one of gentle grace and sensuous charm, he profoundly influenced the subsequent course of Greek sculpture.

Nothing is known of his life except that he apparently was the son of the sculptor Cephisodotus the Elder and had two sons, Cephisodotus the Younger and Timarchus, also sculptors. The only known surviving work from Praxiteles’ own hand, the marble statue “Hermes Carrying the Infant Dionysus,” is characterized by a delicate modeling of forms and exquisite surface finish. A few of his other works, described by ancient writers, survive in Roman copies.

His most celebrated work was the “Aphrodite of Cnidus,” which the Roman author Pliny the Elder considered not only the finest statue by Praxiteles but the best in the whole world. The goddess is shown naked, a bold innovation at the time. From reproductions of this statue on Roman coins numerous copies have been recognized; the best known are in the Vatican Museum, Rome, and in the Louvre, Paris. Another work that has been recognized in various Roman copies is the “Apollo Sauroctonus,” in which the god is shown as a boy leaning against a tree trunk, about to kill a lizard with an arrow.

According to Pliny, when Praxiteles was asked which of his statues he valued most highly, he replied, “ ‘those to which Nicias [a famous Greek painter] has put his hand’—so much did he prize the application of colour of that artist.” To visualize the sculptures of Praxiteles, therefore, it is well to remember how much colour added to the general effect. Another ancient writer, Diodorus, says of him that “he informed his marble figures with the passions of the soul.” It is this subtle personal element, combined with an exquisite finish of surface, that imparts to his figures their singular appeal. Through his influence, figures standing in graceful, sinuous poses, leaning lightly on some support, became favourite representations and were later further developed by sculptors of the Hellenistic age.

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The same qualities recur in many other statues, all of them Roman copies of Greek works in a more or less Praxitelean vein. The best known is the Apollo Belvedere (fig. 209), which enjoyed tremendous popularity during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Goethe, and other champions of the Greek Revival found it the perfect exemplar of Classical beauty. Plaster casts or reproductions of it were considered indispensable for all museums, art academies, or liberal arts colleges, and generations of students grew up in the belief that it embodied the essence of the Greek spirit. This enthusiasm tells us a good deal, not about the qualities of the Apollo Belvedere but about the character of the Greek Revival, although our own time takes a less enthusiastic view of the statue.

209. Apollo Belvedere. Roman marble copy, probably of a Greek original of the late 4th (or 1st) century B.C. Height 7'4" (2.3 m).
Vatican Museums, Rome

Copy of Praxiteles.
Apollo Sauroctonus (lizard-killer).
Marble, Roman copy from the 1st–2nd centuries AD
after a Greek original from the 4th century BC.


Besides Scopas and Praxiteles, there is another great name in pre-Hellenistic sculpture: Lysippus, whose career may have begun as early as about 370 B.C. and continued to the end of the century. The main features of his style, however, are more difficult to grasp than those of his two famous contemporaries, because of the contradictory evidence of the Roman copies that are assumed to reproduce his work. Ancient authors praised him for replacing the Canon of Polyclitus with a new set of proportions that produced a more slender body and a smaller head. His realism, too, was proverbial: he is said to have had no master other than nature. But these statements describe little more than a general trend toward the end of the fourth century. Certainly the proportions of Praxiteles' statues are "Lysippic" rather than "Polyclitan." Nor could Lysippus have been the only artist of his time to conquer new aspects of reality.

Even in the case of the Apoxyomenos (fig. 210), the statue most insistently linked with his name, the evidence is far from conclusive. It shows a young athlete cleaning himself with a scraper, a motif often represented in Greek art from Classical times on. Unlike all other versions, here the arms are horizontally extended in front of the body. This bold thrust into space, at the cost of obstructing the view of the torso, is a noteworthy feat, whether or not we credit it to Lysippus. It endows the figure with a new capacity for spontaneous three-dimensional movement. A similar freedom is suggested by the diagonal line of the free leg. Even the unruly hair reflects the new trend toward spontaneity.

210. Apoxyomenos (Scraper). Roman marble copy, probably after a bronze original of ñ 330 B.C. by LYSIPPUS. Height 6'9" (2.1 m). Vatican Museums, Rome

, (flourished c. 370–c. 300 bc, Sicyon, Greece), Greek sculptor, head of the school at Argos and Sicyon in the time of Philip of Macedon and especially active during the reign of Philip’s son Alexander the Great (336–323 bc). Lysippus was famous for the new and slender proportions of his figures and for their lifelike naturalism.

Originally a worker in metal, he taught himself the art of sculpture by studying nature and the Doryphorus (“Spearbearer”) of Polyclitus, whose canon of ideal male proportions he modified by creating a smaller head and slimmer body that increased his figures’ apparent height.

Lysippus is said by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (1st century ad) to have made more than 1,500 works, all of them in bronze. Of these, not one has been preserved, nor is there a completely reliable copy. There are, however, a few copies that may be ascribed to him with some certainty. The best and most reliable is that of the Apoxyomenos, a young male athlete, scraping and cleaning his oil-covered skin with a strigil. The original Apoxyomenos is known to have been transported to Rome at the time of the emperor Tiberius (reigned ad 14–37), who placed it before Agrippa’s bath. The Vatican copy of the Apoxyomenos is tall, slender, and elegantly shaped, the head small in proportion to the body. There is a precision of detail, especially in the hair and the eyes.

Lysippus’ portraits of Alexander the Great are many; he sculpted Alexander from boyhood onward, and Alexander would have no other sculptor portray him. The most noteworthy is the herm (bust on a tapering pedestal) of Alexander in the Louvre, with an ancient inscription attributing it to Lysippus. The bronze statue of Alexander in the Louvre and the head of Alexander in the British Museum are similar in style to the Apoxyomenos.

Other key works attributed to Lysippus include the Agias of Pharsalus, a statue of a victor in the pancratium (athletic games for boys); Troilus (an Olympic victor, 372 bc); Coridas (a Pythian victor in the pancratium, 342 bc); the colossal bronze statue of Zeus at Tarentum; the colossal bronze seated Heracles at Tarentum, later sent to Rome and then to the hippodrome at Constantinople (now Istanbul), where it was melted down in 1022; and the chariot of the sun at Rhodes (Apollo on a four-horse chariot).

The bronze Zeus of Lysippus, which is described by the 2nd-century-ad traveller Pausanias as having stood in the marketplace at Sicyon, survives in miniature on a bronze coin from the time of the 3rd-century Roman emperor Caracalla; it is similar in style to the Apoxyomenos. Lysippus’ colossal, but exhausted and melancholy, Heracles at Sicyon was the original of the Farnese Heracles, signed by Glycon as copyist. The Glycon copy has many copies extant, including one in the Pitti Palace, Florence, with an inscription naming Lysippus as the artist.

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The Farnese Hercules, ca.320 B.C. Copy after  Lysippos.

Hermes of Atalante, a Roman marble copy of a lost bronze attributed to Lysippos (National Archaeological Museum of Athens)

Amor stringing his bow, Roman copy after Greek original by Lysippos.
Musei Capitolini, Rome.


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