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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

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

The Great Age of Greek Sculpture. Second Period 400-323 B.C.

Praxiteles

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Cephisodotus was probably a near relative of a much greater sculptor, Praxiteles, perhaps his father. Praxiteles is better known to us than any other Greek artist. For we have, to begin with, one authenticated original statue from his hand, besides three fourths of a bas-relief probably executed under his direction. In the second place, we can gather from our literary sources a catalogue of toward fifty of his works, a larger list than can be made out for any other sculptor. Moreover, of several pieces we get really enlightening descriptions, and there are in addition one or two valuable general comments on his style. Finally two of his statues that are mentioned in literature can be identified with sufficient certainty in copies. The basis of judgment is thus wide enough to warrant us in bringing numerous other works into relation with him.

About his life, however, we know, as in other cases, next to nothing. He was an Athenian and must have been somewhere near the age of Scopas, though seemingly rather younger. Pliny gives the hundred and fourth Olympiad (370-66) as the date at which he flourished, but this was probably about the beginning of his artistic career. Only one anecdote is told of him which is worth repeating here. When asked what ones among his marble statues he rated highest he answered that those which Nicias had tinted were the best. Nicias was an eminent painter of the period.


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