A History of Greek Art eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 155 pages of information about A History of Greek Art.
Lydia, whose reign lasted from 560 to 546 B. C. In the course of the excavations carried on for the British Museum upon the site of Ephesus there were brought to light, in 1872 and 1874, a few fragments of this sixth century edifice.  Even some letters of Croesus’s dedicatory inscription have been found on the bases of the Ionic columns, affording a welcome confirmation to the testimony of Herodotus.  It appears that the columns, or some of them, were treated in a very exceptional fashion, the lowest drums being adorned with relief-sculpture.  The British Museum authorities have partially restored one such drum (Fig. 86), though without guaranteeing that the pieces of sculpture here combined actually belong to the same column.  The male figure is not very pre-possessing, but that is partly due to the battered condition of the face.  Much more attractive is the female head, of which unfortunately only the back is seen in our illustration.  It bears a strong family likeness to the head of the Victory of Delos, but shows marked improvement over that.  Some bits of a sculptured cornice belonging to the same temple are also refined in style.  In this group of reliefs, fragmentary though they are, we have an indication of the development attained by Ionic sculptors about the middle of the sixth century.  For, of course, though Croesus paid for the columns, the work was executed by Greek artists upon the spot, and presumably by the best artists that could be secured.  We may therefore use these sculptures as a standard by which to date other works, whose date is not fixed for us by external evidence.

CHAPTER VI.

The archaic period of Greek sculpture second half 550-480 B.C.

Greek sculpture now enters upon a stage of development which possesses for the modern student a singular and potent charm True, many traces still remain of the sculptor’s imperfect mastery.  He cannot pose his figures in perfectly easy attitudes not even in reliefs, where the problem is easier than in sculpture in the round.  His knowledge of human anatomy—­that is to say, of the outward appearance of the human body, which is all the artistic anatomy that any one attempted to know during the rise and the great age of Greek sculpture—­is still defective, and his means of expression are still imperfect.  For example, in the nude male figure the hips continue to be too narrow for the shoulders, and the abdomen too flat.  The facial peculiarities mentioned in the preceding chapter—­prominent eyeballs, cheeks, and chin, and smiling mouth—­are only very gradually modified.  As from the first, the upper eyelid does not overlap the lower eyelid at the outer corner, as truth, or rather appearance, requires, and in relief sculpture the eye of a face in profile is rendered as in front view.  The texture and arrangement of hair are expressed in various ways but always with a marked love of symmetry and

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A History of Greek Art from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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