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
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
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
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
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 MAUSOLEUM AT HALICARNASSUS. —so
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 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 tomb
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.
Reconstruction drawing of the Mausoleum at
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
although he clearly learned from the example of the
Parthenon metopes as well (see fig. 198).
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. SCOPAS (?).
Battle of the Greeks and Amazons, from the east frieze of the
359-351 B.C. Marble, height 35" (89 cm).
British Museum, London
Scopas, (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
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,
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
205. "Mausolus," from the Mausoleum at
ñ. 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.
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.
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. Demeter, from Cnidus.
ñ. 340-330 B.C.
Marble, height 60" (152.3 cm). British Museum,
As it happens, Praxiteles' most acclaimed statue, an Aphrodite (fig.
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
"Aphrodite Braschi", free copy
(1st century BC) after a votive statue of Praxitele
in Cnidus ("Cnidian
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
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.
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
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
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
(Scraper). Roman marble copy, probably after a bronze
original of ñ 330 B.C. by LYSIPPUS.
Height 6'9" (2.1 m). Vatican Museums,
Lysippus, (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
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.
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.