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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

F. B. Tarbell, A History of Ancient Greek Art

Greek Sculpture - General considerations

Godly and human

ELPENOR EDITIONS IN PRINT

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PLATO

ARISTOTLE

THE GREEK OLD TESTAMENT (SEPTUAGINT)

THE NEW TESTAMENT

PLOTINUS

DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE

MAXIMUS CONFESSOR

SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN

CAVAFY

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Greek sculpture had a strongly idealizing bent. Gods and goddesses were conceived in the likeness of human beings, but human beings freed from eery blemish, made august and beautiful by the artistic imagination. The subjects of architectural sculpture were mainly mythological, historical scenes being very rare in purely Greek work; and these legendary themes offered little temptation to a literal copying of every-day life. But what is most noteworthy is that even in the representation of actual human persons, e.g., in athlete statues and upon grave monuments, Greek sculpture in the best period seems not to have even aimed at exact portraiture. The development of realistic portraiture belongs mainly to the age of Alexander and his successors.

Mr. Ruskin goes so far as to say that a Greek "never expresses personal character," and "never expresses momentary passion."[1] These are reckless verdicts, needing much qualification. For the art of the fourth century they will not do at all, much less for the later period. But they may be of use if they lead us to note the preference for the typical and permanent with which Greek sculpture begins, and the very gradual way in which it progresses toward the expression of the individual and transient. However, even in the best period the most that we have any right to speak of is a prevailing tendency. Greek art was at all times very much alive, and the student must be prepared to find exceptions to any formula that can be laid down.

[1] "Aratra Pentelici," Lecture VI, Section 191, 193.

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


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