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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

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

The Hellenistic Period of Greek Sculpture. 323-146 B.C.

Reliefs

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Hellenistic art struck out a new path in the class of reliefs. There are some restorations. A gulf separates these works from the friezes of the Parthenon and the Mausoleum. Whereas relief-sculpture in the classical period abjured backgrounds and picturesque accessories, we find here a highly pictorial treatment.

The subjects moreover are, in the instances chosen, of a character to which Greek sculpture before Alexander's time hardly offers a parallel. In Fig. 181 we see a ewe giving suck to her lamb. Above, at the right, is a hut or stall, from whose open door a dog is just coming out; at the left is an oak tree. In Fig. 182 a lioness crouches with her two cubs. Above is a sycamore tree, and to the right of it a group of objects which tell of the rustic worship of Bacchus.

Each of the two reliefs decorated a fountain or something of the sort. In the one the overturned milk-jar served as a water- spout; in the other the open mouth of one of the cubs answered the same purpose. Generally speaking, the pictorial reliefs seem to have been used for the interior decoration of private and public buildings. By their subjects many of them bear witness to that love of country life and that feeling for the charms of landscape which are the most attractive traits of the Hellenistic period.

 

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