…Constantius and Galerius were made emperors; and the Roman world was divided between them in such a manner, that Constantius had Gaul, Italy, and Africa; Galerius Illyricum, Asia, and the East… Galerius, a man of excellent moral character, and skillful in military affairs, finding that Italy, by Constantius’s permission, was put under his government, created two Caesars, MAXIMIN, whom he appointed over the east, and SEVERUS, to whom he committed Italy. He himself resided in Illyricum… wrote Eutropius in Book X of Abridgement of Roman History about Emperor Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus. https://www.forumromanum.org/literature/eutropius/trans10.html
In the Epitome De Caesaribus, a booklet about the Style of Life and the Manners of the Imperatores, sometimes attributed to Sextus Aurelius Victor, Emperor Galerius is described as …possessed of an uncultivated and rustic justice…he was, however, the author continues, praiseworthy enough, physically attractive, a skilled and fortunate warrior, sprung from country parents, a keeper of cattle, whence for him the cognomen Armentarius [“Herdsman”]. 16. He was born and also buried in Dacia Ripensis, a place which he had called Romulianum from the name of his mother, Romula. 17. He insolently dared to affirm that, in the fashion of Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, his mother had conceived him after she had been embraced by a serpent.http://roman-emperors.sites.luc.edu/epitome.htm
Living in Thessaloniki, where numerous buildings and structures commissioned by Galerius still grace the cityscape, serving as popular attractions, I find it necessary to introduce you to Emperor Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus, commonly referred to as Galerius. He held the position of Roman Emperor within the Tetrarchy system, a governance framework established by Emperor Diocletian, which partitioned the Roman Empire into four co-ruling territories. Galerius, during his rule as Augustus from 305 to 311 AD, gained renown for his multifaceted role within the Tetrarchy, his involvement in the Christian persecutions of the early 4th century, and his military campaigns waged against the Sassanid Empire and hostile Danube frontier tribes.
Much like many of his predecessors, Galerius was prominently featured in a multitude of portraits and statues throughout his reign. These artistic representations consistently cast him as a strong and unwavering leader, characterized by stern expression and adorned with intricate military regalia. Beyond their artistic merit, these depictions held profound historical value, serving as windows into the prevailing culture and politics of the Roman Empire during his rule. Moreover, they afford us a glimpse into the nuanced strategies employed by emperors to project their influence and command, shedding light on the perceptions held by their subjects and contemporaries.
Upon encountering his portrait at the Canellopoulos Museum in Athens, I was truly taken aback. Galerius appeared notably advanced in age, likely in the twilight of his life, exuding an aura of austerity, distance, and impassivity. Gazing upon his face, one can vividly sense the gravity of his station. Despite, however, the impression of weariness, detachment, and aloofness, the Emperor unmistakably embodies the quintessential image of an absolute monarch within the Tetrarchy – a power deserving of the most serious consideration!
For a PowerPoint of Portraits depicting Emperor Galerius, please… Check HERE!
The family offering of Daochos II, or of the House of the Thessalians was initially erected on the prominent terrace northeast of the temple. It comprises a group of marble statues dedicated to Apollo by Daochos II, a Thessalian dignitary from Pharsalus, who represented his people in the Amphictyonic League of Delphi (336-332 BC) where he served the interests of the Macedonians. Nine statues stood on a narrow space: Apollo (lost) and eight representatives of the dedicator’s powerful family (Agias Son of Aknonios is one of them) who were famous for their political, military and athletic exploits. We know the names and glorious deeds of the men represented from the inscriptions carved on the front of the base. Although the figures are deployed in a line and differ from one another in pose and dress, they nevertheless interact through the symmetrical or contrasting movement of their bodies, gestures, and turns of the head. Rosina Colonia, The Archaeological Museum of Delphi, John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, Athens, Greece, page 321 https://www.latsis-foundation.org/content/elib/book_13/delphoi_en.pdf
The monument of Daoxhos II at Delphi, a family portrait gallery of eight statues, showcases six successive generations within the direct family lineage of Daochos II, stretching back to the late 6th century. It starts on the right side of the Monument, with the statue of Apollo (the statue is lost), the deity to whom the monument was dedicated. Based on the size and shallow nature of the carving, it is likely that the statue depicted Apollo in a seated position.
On the right side of Apollo, the unknown artist of the Monument placed the statue of Aknonios, great-great-grandfather of Daochos II, who lived during the Persian Wars and served as Tetrarch of Thessaly. Aknonios is followed by his three sons, all of them distinguished athletes. First comes the oldest son, Agias, the great-grandfather of Daochos II. Placed next to his father following a generational sequence, Agias was a distinguished athlete of Pankration, an Olympian, and the winner of many Panhellenic Games during the 5th century. His brother Telemachos, a 440 BC Olympic Games Wrestling Winner comes next, followed by the younger of the three brothers, Agelaos, a champion Runner. Daochos I, son of Agias, grandfather of the monument’s donor, and Tetrarch of Thessaly for twenty-seven peaceful years are placed next to Agelaos. He is followed by Sisyphus I, his son, a military man, his grandson, and donor, Daochos II, and finally Sisyphus II, the youngest member of the Thessalian family.
The statue of each depicted member of the Thessalian family is differentiated, by pose, anatomy, and dress. Each statue stands alone, yet, their body postures, hand gestures, and the way their heads turn unite them, creating a tight composition. The represented statesmen, for example, Aknonios and Daochos I, depicted wearing the short chlamys favoured by Macedonian and Thessalian men, look sturdy and solemn. Sisyphus I, the only military representative in the Daochos II group, is presented as if he is giving military orders. As for the rest, Agias, Telemachos, Agelaos, and young Sisyphus II, presented in the nude, are perfect examples of youth and athletic prowess.
The statue of Agias son of Aknonios, and great-grandfather of Daochos II, is the Monument’s most preserved and most significant artwork. The Monument’s epigram, beneath his statue, identifies him as a distinguished athlete… Πρῶτος Ὀλύμπια παγκράτιον, Φαρσάλιε, νίκαις | Ἀγία Ἀκνονίου, γῆς ἀπὸ Θεσσαλίας, | πεντάκις ἐν Νεμέαι, τρις Πύθια, πεντάκις Ἰσθμοῖ · | καὶ σῶν οὐδεὶς πω στῆσε τρόπαια χερῶν… Man from Pharsalos (a town in Thessaly), having won the pankration first in Olympia, Agias, the son of Aknonios, from the land of Thessaly, (you won) five times in Nemea, three times the Pythian Games and five times on the Isthmos; no one has ever erected a victory monument at the expense of your poor.
As an athlete, Agias is depicted in a state of nudity, showcasing his athletic prowess as a victorious competitor. He is depicted standing upright, facing the viewer… but he appears restless! The weight distribution between his legs is not sharply differentiated. There is a lack of pronounced contrast between the weight-bearing, straight, right leg and the free, slightly bent, left leg. The statue appears to shift back and forth between the two stances, rather than standing at ease.
Equally restless seems to be the remaining body posture. The right hip, for example, juts out slightly, yet the overall impression is one of verticality. To the same extent, the arms are not ‘hanging’ down relaxed, but rather held slightly away from the athlete’s body, adding to their dynamic quality. The head, smaller in size compared to the statue’s size, rests on a muscular neck, slightly turning to the left. The facial details convey a sense of distinctive personality with a firmly set, sensual mouth, a rather large nose, and small eyes deeply set into the head. The gaze carried by Agias seems directed into space, imparting a certain detachment from the world. Overall, Agias’s torso, arms, legs, neck, and head, are powerfully built, but the body does not appear heavy. The son of Aknonios is a powerful Pankreatist, yet a tall, slender, elegant, thoughtful man.
Is the statue of Agias at Delphi the artistic creation of Lysippos, the great 5th-centurysculptor from Sicyon?
According to modern scholars, Lysippos, the favourite sculptor of Alexander the Great, developed a particular artistic canon aimed at achieving specific effects. The statue of Agias, an idealized 4th century portrait, made long after the athlete’s death as part of the Monument of Daochos II, seems to ‘match’ Lysippos’ distinct artistic ‘effects’. It is characterized by a dynamic, yet ‘restless’ posture, a lean physique, individualized facial features, and a sense of detachment conveyed through the statue’s gaze.
The statue’s connection to Lysippos is further enhanced by an archaeological find at Pharsalos, the birthplace of Agias. A few years back, archaeologists unearthed the base of yet another statue of Agias (the actual statue is lost), which carried an inscription in part nearly identical to the Agias epigram at Delphi. It appears that the Delphi inscription was excerpted from that at Pharsalos, where, at its end, the name of Lysippos, the sculptor, was clearly written.
The statue of Agias, part of the Monument of Daochos II at Delphi, was erected between the years 337/6 and 333/2 and embodies many artistic characteristics of the Lysippian style. The statue is identified as Agias, son of Aknonios, from an epigram inscribed on its base. This epigram is a copy of the inscription carved on the base of a chronologically older ‘statue’ of Agias discovered in the ancient city of Pharsalos, the birthplace of the athlete. The Pharsalos ‘statue’, commissioned, most probably, by Daochos II as well, believed to be an original creation of the sculptor Lysippos, done in bronze, and dated before 337/6 BC, has sparked many discussions about the creator of the statue of Agias at Delphi. Is it an original work by Lysippos or a copy of his bronze original statue at Pharsalos? Today, it is believed that the Delphic Agias, even if not a faithful replica of Lysippus’ original statue at Pharsalos, belongs to his workshop and, as a work from the 4th century BC, sheds light on the artistic trends of that era.
For a PowerPoint Presentation of the Monument of Daochos II in the Archaeological Museum at Delphi, please… Check HERE!
I will sing of Herakles, the son of Zeus and much the mightiest of men on earth. Alcmena bare him in Thebes, the city of lovely dances, when the dark-clouded Son of Cronos had lain with her. Once he used to wander over unmeasured tracts of land and sea  at the bidding of King Eurystheus, and himself did many deeds of violence and endured many; but now he lives happily in the glorious home of snowy Olympus, and has neat-ankled Hebe for his wife. Hail, lord, son of Zeus’ Give me success and prosperity… writes the anonymous poet of Homeric Hymn 15… and The Apotheosis of Herakles in the Acropolis Museum comes to my mind. https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0138%3Ahymn%3D15
Let’s answer some questions about The Apotheosis of Herakles in the Acropolis Museum…
What is a Pediment and how important Pediments were they for Greek Temple Architecture? According to the Encyclopedia Britannica… Pediment, in architecture, is a triangular gable forming the end of the roof slope over a portico (the area, with a roof supported by columns, leading to the entrance of a building). For ancient Greek architecture, the two pediments featured on the two narrow sides of their temples were very important. They served as the ‘crowning feature’ of the whole structure. The triangular wall surface of the pediment, called the tympanum, was often decorated with sculptural compositions. Last but not least, Pediments were always crowned by a raking, or slanted, cornice.https://www.britannica.com/technology/pediment-architecture
Where, and When, did the Apotheosis of Herakles Pediment was discovered? The Apotheosis of Herakles pediment was discovered, during the 1888 excavation period, buried, east and southeast of the Parthenon, in the Acropolis of Athens.
Was the Apotheosis of Herakles Pediment part of the Acropolis Perserschutt? Yes! The Perserschutt consists of numerous remains of statues vandalized by the Achaemenids during the terrible years of the second Persian invasion… Ten years after the Battle of Marathon (490 BC), the Persians returned to Greece and after their victory at the Battle of Thermopylae, in September of 480 BC, they entered Athens. The small number of Athenians who had barricaded themselves on the Acropolis, hoping that the Wooden Walls of the Delphic Oracle would protect them, were eventually defeated, and Xerxes ordered Athens to be torched. Those Persians who had come up first betook themselves to the gates, which they opened, and slew the suppliants; and when they had laid all the Athenians low, they plundered the temple and burnt the whole of the Acropolis. (Herodotus VIII.53). Months later, after the victory at Salamis, and the Battle of Plateae in 479 BC, the Athenians returned to their city… they respectfully buried the mutilated sacred statues of the Archaic period on the Acropolis (these remains are called Perserschutt) and proceeded with reorganizing their civic and private lives… waiting for the right time to rebuild their Acropolis. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/special-topics-art-history/arches-at-risk-cultural-heritage-education-series/xa0148fd6a60f2ff6:ruins-reconstruction-and-renewal/a/destruction-memory-and-monuments-the-many-lives-of-the-parthenon
Which Acropolis building did the Apotheosis architectural sculptures decorate? Archaeologists are not categorically certain. According to the Acropolis Museum experts, the pediment probably decorated one of the small buildings, referred to as “oikemata”, on the Archaic Acropolis. Some scholars, however, suggest these remains were once part of the pediment of the Hekatompedon, a building that stood on the site now occupied by the Parthenon. https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/apotheosis-deification-herakles-pediment
How important, artistically, is the Apotheosis Pediment? These pedimental sculptures are of high quality. Of particular interest are the heads that have been preserved, that of Zeus and especially that of Heracles with finely worked details of his facial features and hair. The garments worn by the figures are equally attractively rendered, as is Zeus’s throne with palmettes on the legs, and the skin of the lion, whose head, with incised curls on the mane, covers Heracles’ head like a hood. https://www.latsis-foundation.org/content/elib/book_8/acropolis_en.pdf page 30-31
How is Émile Gilliéron père related to The Apotheosis of Herakles Pediment? In a letter addressed to Gisela M. A. Richter, curator of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, dated October 29, 1918, Emile Gilliéron père informs the noted archaeologist and art historian, that he has executed, at the Acropolis of Athens, four watercolors that may interest the Museum. One of these watercolours is the Apotheosis of Herakles. Gilliéron, recognized as a skilled archaeological draftsman, worked for the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI) in the Acropolis, Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae, and Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos, where Gilliéron father and son served for thirty years as draftsmen, restorers, and advisers. The watercolour of the Apotheosis Pediment is of the utmost importance. It documents the vibrant colours the Archaic artist used, red, blue, black, green, and yellow, at the time of their discovery, before they were altered by prolonged exposure to the elements. The Gilliéron watercolour is exhibited at the MET, NY Exhibition Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color (Through 26, 2023). https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Watercolors_of_the_Acropolis_Emile_Gillieron_in_Athens
For a PowerPoint on Gilliéron’s Watercolours of the Acropolis architectural sculptures, please… Check HERE!
Ancient Egyptian art must be viewed from the standpoint of the ancient Egyptians to understand it. The somewhat static, usually formal, strangely abstract, and often blocky nature of much Egyptian imagery has, at times, led to unfavorable comparisons with later, and much more ‘naturalistic,’ Greek or Renaissance art. However, the art of the Egyptians served a vastly different purpose than that of these later cultures. The Art of the Old Kingdom Period is rich in masterpieces… awaiting us to explore them! https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/beginners-guide-egypt/a/egyptian-art?modal=1
Let’s start with my Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline… Today, our Goal is to “travel” through the Old Kingdom timeline and identify important artworks that reflect aesthetic values, fascinating funerary traditions, or daily life.
Let’s focus on Old Kingdom three-dimensional, and two-dimensional Sculpture
Sculpture played an important part in the lives of ancient Egyptians. They used sculpture to appease their gods, honor their kings and queens, and satisfy the needs of the afterlife. Old Kingdom three-dimensional art sets the tone. Always facing forward, towards eternity, Egyptian statues in the round, appear powerful, motionless, firm, serene, and self-possessed. The represented Egyptians look formal and idealized. They either sit regally, as if expecting to be served, or stand upright, one foot forward, firmly placed on the ground, as if they are about to walk. The form is closed, the arms are held close to the sides, and stone fills spaces between limbs for extra security and support.
Old Kingdom two-dimensional art was equally important, particularly ‘relief’ sculpture. Two-dimensional art was for the Egyptians a way to present, but not replicate, aspects of the ‘real world.’ What they did is interesting… each object or element in a scene was rendered from its most recognizable angle and these were then grouped together to create the whole. This is why images of people show their face, waist, and limbs in profile, but eyes and shoulders frontally. The finished scenes are complex composite images that provide complete information about the various represented elements as if designed from different viewpoints. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/beginners-guide-egypt/a/egyptian-art?modal=1
Ancient Egyptians used two kinds of ‘relief’ sculpture. Very popular is the so-called ‘bas-relief’ where the design stands out from the surrounding surface and the background of the composition is cut away and smooth. Equally popular is the ‘sunk relief’ where the outlines of designed forms are carved within a flat surface beyond which the forms do not project.
The Old Kingdom was an incredibly dynamic period of Egyptian history. The Old Kingdom was equally dynamic in Art. It astonishes us with the serene beauty exhibited in its statues, the displayed Pharaonic, or not, power and confidence, and the amazing dexterity of craftsmanship. Simply put…Amazing!
Follow The Art of the Old Kingdom Period PowerPoint and examine more than forty-five Old Kingdom works of art… statues, jewelry, furniture, frescoes, and relief carvings. The presented Old Kingdom ‘highlights’ range in date from about 2600 BC to 2400 BC. Please… Check HERE!
Inscribed on the base of this extraordinary Funerary Stele, we read… To dear Me[gakles], on his death, his father with his dear mother set (me) up as a monument. The ancient Greek marble Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York city, is worth exploring…
What is a Stele (for the Ancient Greeks)? A Stele (from ancient Greek στήλη-arrange/stand) is a set upright stone slab used in the ancient world primarily as a grave marker but also for dedication, commemoration, and demarcation. Stelae could be inscribed, carved in relief, or painted. During Greek Antiquity, Grave Stelae (επιτύμβιες στήλες) were usually inscribed and decorated with scenes depicting the deceased, usually alone, but sometimes with a servant or relative. The Early Archaic period Grave Stele in the area of Attica, were often inscribed, decorated in relief, crowned by a capital, which extended upwards and supported a sphinx, a demonic being that protected the tomb, and finally painted! https://www.britannica.com/topic/stela
Is the MET Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl special? Yes, it is a very special and unique piece. According to the MET experts… This is the most complete grave monument of its type to have survived from the Archaic period. It is also of high artistic quality and a great source of information on how ancient Greek sculptural pieces were painted. In addition, if the name of the youth in the Stele’s inscription is Megakles, as some scholars believe, then the Stele was erected by the Athenian family of the Alkmeonidai, and it is an archaeological discovery of historical importance. The Alcmaeonidai were a wealthy and powerful noble family of ancient Athens. Cleisthenes, Pericles, and Alkeviades were prominent members of the family. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500
Where was the Marble Stele found, and how did it reach the MET? According to the MET, the Stele is… said to have come from Kataphygi, Attica. The Museum acquired fragments of the Stele in 1911, 1922, 1936, 1938, and 1951. Two parts of the MET Stele are plaster copies. For example, the Girl’s head is in Berlin, and the youth’s right forearm is in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Interestingly, the capital and crowning sphinx, as exhibited in its entirety, are casts of the originals, displayed in a case nearby. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500
In 1911 the MET acquired a fragmentary shaft, the base, and the acroterion of the Stele from John Marshall in England. A fragment of the youth’s shoulder and arm was acquired in 1922 from M.L. Kambanis in Athens or Paris. The Stele’s marble capital and finial in the form of a sphinx were purchased in 1936 and 1938 through Martin Birnbaum. Fragments of the Stele’s inscription were gifted to the MET in 1951 by Walter C. Baker. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500 and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501
First thoughts and impressions… A few ancient Attic Grave Stelae of the Archaic period survived in their entirety. The three-part Grave Stele of a Youth and a little Girl is probably the best example. Exhibited restored, with the help of plaster casts, the MET Stele, shows how imposing and impressive such a monument could be. With considerable height, 4,23 meters, brilliantly painted, the Stele, seen even from afar, dominated the Athenian landscape where it originally stood. https://www.greek-language.gr/digitalResources/ancient_greek/history/art/page_063.html
Description… The MET Stele consists of three parts. The lowest part is the Stele’s rectangular base. Inscribed on the base, the unknown artist of the Stele wrote… to dear Me[gakles], on his death, his father with his dear mother set [me] up as a monument. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248500
The middle part of the Stele has a lot to narrate. The front part of the shaft depicts the full-length representation of the deceased, a young man, an athlete, and thee, a παλαιστρίτη (a wrestler or an athlete trained in a παλαίστρα). In heroic nudity, he holds with his left hand a pomegranate, the mythological fruit of death and fertility. Hanging from the left wrist, an aryballos (a small oil flask) reminds us that Megakles, if that was his name, was an active athlete. Little is known of the little, fully clothed, girl, standing before Megakles, holding, with her left hand, an unidentified flower in front of her face. It has been suggested that the girl in the composition might be a younger sister. http://met-guide.blogspot.com/2011/01/grave-stele-of-youth-and-little-girl_28.html
The upper member of the finial is a formidable, three-dimensional Sphinx, a mythological creature with a lion’s body and a human head, known in various forms throughout the eastern Mediterranean region from the Bronze Age onward. The Greeks, as in the case of the MET Stele, represented it as a winged female and often placed its image on grave monuments as guardian of the dead.https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248501
How is the MET Stele related to the Met Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color Exhibition? For the decoration of the MET Stele, the unknown artist employed sculpture and painting as well. The original colour on the marble MET Stele is unusually well-preserved, especially the colours of the Sphinx. According to Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann and Vinzenz Brinkmann, scientific analyses, photographs with ultraviolet and infrared light, false-color photographs, and archaeological comparisons allowed an almost complete reconstruction of the elegant designs in luminous and precious natural colors. The new, painted reconstruction of the MET Sphinx is a key display in Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color (Through March 26, 2023) Exhibition. https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/exhibition-objects
For a Student Activity inspired by the Marble stele of a youth and a little girl in the MET, please… Check HERE!
Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was once colorful, vibrantly painted and richly adorned with detailed ornamentation. Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color reveals the colorful backstory of polychromy—meaning “many colors,” in Greek—and presents new discoveries of surviving ancient color on artworks in The Met’s world-class collection. Exploring the practices and materials used in ancient polychromy, the exhibition highlights cutting-edge scientific methods used to identify ancient color and examines how color helped convey meaning in antiquity, and how ancient polychromy has been viewed and understood in later periods… write the Metropolitan Museum experts as they introduce their Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color (Through March 26, 2023) Exhibition. A modern study of the color scheme of the so-called Treu Head in the collection of the British Museum is interesting to explore. https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma
The Treu Head was found on the Esquiline Hill in Rome in 1884 and soon after its discovery was acquired for the British Museum. It is a high-quality Parian marble sculptural piece from a statue of Venus or Minerva, with extraordinarily rich traces of black and red paint on the eyebrows and eyes, and yellow paint on the hair and brow. The flesh is remarkably rendered in pinkish skin colour. This is an insert head. It is finished and painted only on the front side because it was inserted into a larger-than-life sculpture, which was made of a different material. This extraordinary mid-2nd century AD Roman Head was named after the late nineteenth-century German archaeologist Georg Treu who first published his investigations of its preserved colour. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262324723_The_’Treu_Head’_a_case_study_in_Roman_sculptural_polychromy and https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1884-0617-1
Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann and Vinzenz Brinkmann, fascinated by ancient Greek polychromy and supported by Stiftung Archäologie, are instrumental in coloured reconstructions of famous Greco-Roman statues. The Brinkmanns worked hard in the making of polychrome casts of ancient sculptures, as well as publications and scientific documentation (e.g. in the form of film documentaries) on the subject in question. A chief aim of the Stiftung Archäologie was to promote the creation of didactic (cognitive) objects on the basis of scientific research. http://www.stiftung-archaeologie.de/reconstructionsen.html
A key piece in their research is the Treu Head in the collection of the British Museum since the late 19th century. According to Vinzenz Brinkmann, it is remarkable that the Treu Head was not cleaned following its discovery, as was the usual practice at the time. As a result, the clear evidence for an evenly applied skin tone over the entire face is of central importance for our basic understanding of the polychromy of ancient statuary. https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/chroma/exhibition-objects
Remarkably rich in traces of different coloured pigments, Treu Head is a valuable source of information in Roman sculptural polychromy. According to Giovanni Verri, Thorsten Opper, and Thibaut Deviese, the head retained extensive traces of its original polychromy, including otherwise rarely preserved skin pigments. Ever since the German scholar Georg Treu published the sculpture in 1889, it has played a significant part in the discussion on ancient sculptural polychromy and in particular the question of whether or not the flesh parts of marble sculptures were originally painted. Examining the Treu Head, the above mentioned scholars, found that complex mixtures of pigments, and selected pigments for specific areas, were used to create subtle tonal variations. The conclusion of their research confirmed beyond doubt the authenticity of the preserved pigments and thereby the sculpture itself, which can now rightfully reassume its important place in the art historical discussion of the polychromy of ancient sculpture.https://www.academia.edu/5842238/G_Verri_T_Opper_and_T_Deviese_The_Treu_Head_a_case_study_in_Roman_sculptural_polychromy_The_British_Museum_Technical_Bulletin_4_2010_39_54
For a PowerPoint on Polychromy, please… Check HERE!
The Peplos Kore was discovered, back in 1886, in the Acropolis of Athens, during excavation work (1885-1889) led by P. Kavvadias. The lower part of her body was lying, broken, along with thirteen more broken statues, mostly female, architectural members, bronze figurines, marble statue bases, a hoard of silver coins, terracotta figurines, and sherds of pottery, in the so-called “Korai Pit” northwest of the Erechtheion. According to the Acropolis Museum experts, the “Korai Pit” is the conventional name for an artificial fill that covered a hollow located northwest of the Erechtheion, in order to create a level plane to receive the new fortification wall of the Acropolis. The hollow was filled with the debris of the Acropolis after it was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC during the second Persian invasion of Greece. The buried treasures of the Acropolis are also known as the Perserschutt, a German term meaning “Persian debris or rubble.” The head of the Peploforos was found near the Korai Pit, and the statue’s torso, a little to the south, in the area of the Old Temple of Athena. https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en/statue-kore-5
The “Peplophoros” as it is affectionately called by the Greeks, is an Archaic period (c. 600-480 BC) statue of a young female. Statues of a Kore, plural korai, refer to a type of freestanding effigy of a maiden specifically created during the Archaic Period. The Questions and Answers that follow, will hopefully help to better understand their role and importance in the development of Ancient Greek Art.
Can you define what a Kore statue is? Statues of a Kore, plural Korai, refer to a type of freestanding effigy of a maiden. Kore is a draped female figure—carved from marble and originally painted—standing erect with feet together or sometimes with one foot, usually the left, slightly advanced. The arms are sometimes down at the sides, but in most cases, one is brought up closely across the front of the body or is extended, holding an offering; the other is lowered, often clasping a fold of drapery. In the earliest korai, the bodies are so blocklike that they hardly seem to represent feminine form… Later, the drapery became more fluid, with a greater variation in the folds gained by having one hand of the kore pull the drapery tightly across thighs and buttocks. The garments worn by the kore figures changed in style as well, displaying a pattern, either on borders or as single ornaments scattered over larger areas. https://www.britannica.com/art/kore-Greek-sculpture and http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/artifact?name=Athens%2C+Acropolis+679&object=Sculpture
Can you describe the Peplos Kore? The Kore has been named the “Peplos Kore” due to the garment she wears – the peplos. The peplos was fastened in the middle with a belt and on the shoulders with bronze pins which were secured in the small holes that are still preserved. Beneath her peplos, the Kore wears a longer chiton, whose slender folds encase her legs. Spectrographic analysis of the colours has shown that the belt was once blue and green and the chiton blue, with a green band at the neck. The peplos was white – its middle section decorated with vertical rows of small animals, birds, and riders shown on squares of red framed by bands of colourful rosettes on a green background. The peplos borders were decorated by a double band with spirals, floral elements, and a chain of volutes and palmettes alternating with lotus flowers. https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/statue-kore-peplos-kore
Do we know the name of the artist who created the Peplos Kore? The face of the Peplos Kore is characterized by an interest in converging planes. The eyes and mouth occupy hollows that emphasize these features, separated by strongly protruding cheeks and a broad nose. The details are so close to the face of the Rampin Horseman that the two are often attributed to the same sculptor often called the “Rampin Master.” If true, she must be one of his late works, for she is stylistically much advanced. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/artifact?name=Athens%2C+Acropolis+679&object=Sculpture
Who is the Peplos Kore, and what is she holding in her left hand? We do not know for sure who she was, and what she was holding in her left hand. However, the combination of a very conservative attire for the time the statue was created, leads many scholars to assume this is not a simple votive Kore statue, but the representation of a goddess – perhaps Artemis, who would have been gripping arrows in her right hand, and a bow in her left. https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en/statue-kore-5
 Come thou, let us begin with the Muses who gladden the great spirit of their father Zeus in Olympus with their songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as it spread abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the homes of the immortals. And they uttering their immortal voice, celebrate in song first of all the reverend race of the gods from the beginning, those whom Earth and wide Heaven begot, and the gods sprung of these, givers of good things. Then, next, the goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, as they begin and end their strain, how much he is the most excellent among the gods and supreme in power. And again, they chant the race of men and strong giants, and gladden the heart of Zeus within Olympus, — the Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder… Writes Hesiod in his Theogony, describing the Muses… the lovely goddesses who dance and sing and inspire poets like Homer, Virgil, Dante, John Milton, and William Blake… Can The Sarcophagus of the Muses in the Louvre help us learn more about them? https://www.theoi.com/Text/HesiodTheogony.html
It does, indeed! According to the Louvre experts… Created around the mid-second century BC, this sarcophagus was probably made for a cultivated Roman anxious to demonstrate his attachment to Greek culture, with models drawn from Greek art. The composition of the frieze, the neutral background and the retrained attitude of the Muses all evoke the classical art of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. This impression is sustained by the very discreet employment of the drill and the rounded forms of the carefully polished surfaces. The elongated figures of the young women and their almost statuesque appearance, suggested by the depth of the relief, also recall Hellenistic art. Furthermore, each Muse is clearly identified by her attributes and demeanour… https://collections.louvre.fr/en/ark:/53355/cl010278285
Let’s Identify them, starting from left to right…
Kalliope… According to Hesiod, Kalliope was the oldest of the nine Muses, the wisest, and the most assertive. As for the Roman poet Ovid, she was the Chief of all Muses! Orpheus was her son and poets since antiquity called upon her for inspiration! Kalliope is the Muse of Epic Poetry, Music, Song, Dance, and Eloquence. Her attribute is the Wax Tablet or the Scroll. Her name means beautiful-voiced.
Thalia… like all nine Muses, was the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Goddess of Memory) and the mother of the Corybantes, the warrior dancers who worshipped goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing. Thalia is the Muse of Comedy and Bucolic Poetry. Among her attributes are the Comic mask, an ivy wreath, and the shepherd’s staff. She is the joyous, flourishing Muse.
Terpsichore… whose name means Delight in Dancing, is fittingly considered the Muse of Dance. Interestingly she is usually, not in the case of the Louvre Sarcophagus, depicted sitting down, holding a lyre, accompanying the dancers’ choirs with her music. Terpsichore was the mother of the dangerous Sirens, who lured sailors with their music and singing voices to shipwreck and death! Her attribute is the lyre.
Euterpe… the Giver of Delight, was, according to ancient Greek poets, the Goddess of Lyric Poetry. Along with her sisters, she entertained the Gods and Goddesses at Mount Olympus, but she also loved to wander around Mount Helicon and Mount Parnassus. Euterpe is credited as the inventor of the Aulos, an ancient Greek wind instrument, often translated as Flute or Double-Flute. The Aulos is her attribute.
Polyhymnia… Muse of the sacred Poetry, is the most serious looking of all Muses. Often depicted pensive, and meditative, like in the case of the Louvre Sarcophagus, Polyhymnia, whose name means Praise, is often covered in a veil which is her attribute as well. Diodorus Siculus wrote that Polyhymnia, because by her great (polle) praises (humnesis) she brings distinction to writers whose works have won for them immortal fame…
Clio… whose name derives from the Greek root κλέω/κλείω, meaning to make famous or to celebrate. is the Muse of History. She is often presented holding an open scroll or seated beside a chest of books, which are her attributes as well.
Erato… is the Muse of erotic poetry, and mimic imitation. Her name, etymologically, shares the same root as Eros, the god of love! Erato is usually depicted holding her attribute, the Lyre or a Kithara, and she is adorned with a wreath of myrtle and roses!
Urania… the heavenly Muse of Astronomy, is often depicted wearing a cloak covered in stars, looking upwards toward the sky. In the case of the Louvre Sarcophagus, Urania is portrayed as pensive, looking downwards, pointing to the celestial Globe with a staff. In Orphic Hymn 76 to the Muses Urania is beautifully described as heavenly bright.
Melpomene… is the Melodious Muse of Tragic Poetry, the Muse who celebrateswith dance and song. Melpomene is often depicted with her attributes… carrying a sword or a dagger, holding the tragic mask, and wearing cothurnus boots which were worn by tragic actors.
For a PowerPoint on The Sarcophagus of the Muses in the Louvre, please… Click HERE!
You may write me down in history / With your bitter, twisted lies, / or may trod me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I’ll rise. / Does my sassiness upset you? / Why are you beset with gloom? / ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells / Pumping in my living room. / Just like moons and like suns, / With the certainty of tides, / Just like hopes springing high, / Still I’ll rise. / Did you want to see me broken? / Bowed head /and lowered eyes? / Shoulders falling down like teardrops. / Weakened by my soulful cries. / Does my haughtiness offend you? / Don’t you take it awful hard / ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines / Diggin’ in my own back yard. / You may shoot me with your words, / You may cut me with your eyes, / You may kill me with your hatefulness, / But still, like air, I’ll rise. / Does my sexiness upset you? / Does it come as a surprise / That I dance like I’ve got diamonds / At the meeting of my thighs? / Out of the huts of history’s shame / I rise / Up from a past that’s rooted in pain / I rise / I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, / Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. / Leaving behind nights of terror and fear / I rise / Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear / I rise / Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, / I am the dream and the hope of the slave. / I rise / I rise / I rise… writes Maya Angelou and I think of the Little Dancer Aged Fourteen by Edgar Degas in the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens… https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poems/best/dance
Edgar Degas found ballet dancing irresistible and at the Paris Opéra, he frequently attended grand ballet productions on stage and small ballet classes in rehearsal studios. He was an astute observer of the ballerinas’ daily routine of rehearsing, stretching, and resting. He studied dance movements and filled numerous notebooks with sketches to help him remember details so he could later compose paintings and model sculptures in his studio. His penetrating observations are best exemplified in the artist’s statue of the Little Dancer Aged Fourteen exhibited in the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens. The Little Dancer’s name was Marie van Goethem… and she was a young student at the Paris Opéra Ballet School. https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/Education/learning-resources/an-eye-for-art/AnEyeforArt-EdgarDegas.pdf and https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/degas-edgar-little-dancer-aged-fourteen
Adolescent Marie, according to Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation experts, is presented standing in a dynamic but relaxed way, her feet in the “fourth position,” her hands held behind her back, the head slightly raised, and the entire appearance revealing all the ambiguity of an adolescent figure deformed by the dancing practice. The thinness of her body, the possible malnutrition suggested by a slightly swollen belly, does not diminish the girl’s sensuality, whose proud position, almost with an air of defiance, may seem, according to observers, dignified, provocative, or despising… I rise / Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear / I rise… https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/degas-edgar-little-dancer-aged-fourteen
Degas worked on Little Dancer Aged Fourteen for more than two years. He first created an armature of metal, wood, wire, rope, and two long paintbrushes for the dancer’s shoulders. Then, he modeled the figure first with clay to define the muscles, and then he modeled the final layer of the sculpture in wax. It was not enough… He dressed the statue in real ballet satin slippers, a linen bodice, a muslin tutu, and a wig of human hair, braided and tied with a ribbon. Finally, to complete the illusion, a coat of wax spread smoothly with a spatula over the surface of the sculpture, giving it an overall waxy, lifelike look. After Degas died in 1917, copies of this wax figure were cast in plaster and bronze, and Little Dancer Aged Fourteen grew in fame around the world. https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/Education/learning-resources/an-eye-for-art/AnEyeforArt-EdgarDegas.pdf