Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
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Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
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Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Ancient World

ca. 2500 B.C. - 900 A.D.


The epics of Homer, the wars of Caesar, and temples and palaces characterize the image of classic antiquity and the cultures of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. They are the sources from which the Western world draws the foundations of its philosophy, literature, and, not least of all, its state organization. The Greek city-states, above all Athens, were the birthplace of democracy. The regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and great parts of Northwest Europe were forged together into the Roman Empire, which survived until the time of the Great Migration of Peoples. Mighty empires also existed beyond the ancient Mediterranean world, however, such as those of the Mauryas in India and the Han in China.


Alexander the Great



Classical Greece from the Culture of the Polis to the End of Independence



Ancient Greek Sculpture


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


Hermes carrying the young Dionysus, marble statue from Olympia, Greece,
now in the Archaeological Museum at Olympia.
It was sculpted in the 4th century bc and is attributed to Praxiteles.


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.



Greek sculptor

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.








Aphrodite de Cnide




Satyre au repos


Satyre verseur


Tete de femme


Tete de femme


Aphrodite of Cnidus,
 Roman marble copy of Greek statue by Praxiteles,
c. 350 bc; in the Vatican Museum.


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