<<<
>>>

Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 231

From the sixth century before Christ date three processes of great importance in the development of sculpture; the art of casting in bronze, the chiselling of marble, and the inlaying of gold and ivory on wood (chryselephantine work). As early Greek literature developed first among the island Greeks, so the invention of these three methods of art must br attributed to the colonists away from the original Hellas. To the Samians is probably due the invention of bronze casting, to the Chians the beginning of sculpture in marble. This latter development opened to Greek sculpture its great future. Marble work was carried on by a race of artists beginning with Melas in the seventh century and coming down to Boupalos and Athenis, the sons of Achermos, whose works survived to the time of Augustus. Chryselephantine sculpture began in Crete.

Among the earliest of the Greek sculptors whose names have come down to us was Canachos, the Sicyonian. His masterpiece was the Apollo Philesios, in bronze, made for the temple of Didymas. The statue no longer exists, but there are a number of ancient monuments which may be taken as fairly close copies of it, or at least as strongly suggestive of the style of Canachos, among which are the Payne-Knight Apollo at the British Museum, and the Piombino Apollo at the Louvre. In this latter statue the god stands erect with the left foot slightly advanced, and the hands outstretched. The socket of the eye is hollow and was probably filled with some bright substance. Canachos was undoubtedly an innovator, and in the stronger modelling of the head and neck, the more vigorous posture of the body of his statue, he shows an advance on the more conventional and limited art of his generation.

As Greek sculpture progressed, schools of artists arose in various cities, dependent usually for their fame on the ability of some individual sculptor. "Among these schools, those of Aegina and Athens are the most important. Of the former school the works of Onatus are by far the most notable.

Onatus was a contemporary of Canachos, and reached the height of his fame in the middle of the fifth century before Christ. His most famous work was the scene where the Greek heroes draw lots for an opponent to Hector. It is not certain whether Onatus sculptured the groups which adorned the pediments of the temple of Athena at Aegina, groups now in the Glyptothek at Munich, but certainly these famous statues are decidedly in his style. Both pediments represent the battle over the body of Patroclus. The east pediment shows the struggle between Heracles and Laomedon. In each group a fallen warrior lies at the feet of the goddess, over whom she extends her protection. The Aeginetan marbles show the traces of dying archaism. The figures of the warriors are strongly moulded, muscular, but without grace. The same type is reproduced again and again among them. Even the wounded scarcely depart from it. The statues of the eastern pediment are probably later in date than those of the western, and in the former the dying warrior exhibits actual weakness and pain. In the western pediment the statue of the goddess is thoroughly archaic, stiff, uncompromisingly harsh, the features frozen into a conventional smile. In the eastern group the goddess, though still ungraceful, is more distinctly in action, and seems about to take part in the struggle. The Heracles of the eastern pediment, a warrior supported on one knee and drawing his bow, is, for the time, wonderfully vivid and strong. All of these statues are evidence of the rapid progress which Greek sculpture was making in the fifth century against the demands of hieratic conventionality.


<<<
>>>