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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

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

Greek Painting

Zeuxis and Parrhasius

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Two artists of the highest distinction now appear upon the scene. They are Zeuxis and Parrhasius. The rather vague remark of a Roman writer, that they both lived "about the time of the Peloponnesian War" (431-404 B.C.) is as definite a statement as can safely be made about their date. Parrhasius was born at Ephesus, Zeuxis at some one or other of the numerous cities named Heraclea. Both traveled freely from place to place, after the usual fashion of Greek artists, and both naturally made their home for a time in Athens. Zeuxis availed himself of the innovation of Apollodorus and probably carried it farther. Indeed, he is credited by one Roman writer with being the founder of the new method. The strength of Parrhasius is said to have lain in subtlety of line, which would suggest that with him, as with Polygnotus, painting was essentially outline drawing. Yet he too can hardly have remained unaffected by the new chiaroscuro.

Easel pictures now assumed a relative importance which they had not had a generation earlier. Some of these were placed in temples and such conformed in their subjects to the requirements of religious art, as understood in Greece. But many of the easel pictures by Zeuxis and his contemporaries can hardly have had any other destination than the private houses of wealthy connoisseurs.


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