Greek Art 

By: Hennesse Decker 

Description: Portrait of Emperor Agustus Augustus reigned in 27 BC-AD 14. He consolidated Roman power and established the Roman Empire. He tried to re-create the grandeur of classical Athens in Rome. In his monuments, Augustus copied timeless Greek models with ideal forms. This portrait of Augustus combines the elements of an individualized likeness with the smooth, youthful appearance of a god.
Venus, the goddess of love, is shown naked, undressing for her bath. This Roman statuette copies on a smaller scale one of the most famous Greek statues ever made. In 350 B.C. the Greek sculptor, Praxiteles, carved a cult statue of the goddess Aphrodite. This was the first full-scale female nude in Greek art. His statue captured the interest of writers and artists. Unfortunately, this particular statue did not survive, but the concept of the statue did. The idea of the goddess caught in a private moment follows a tradition in Hellenistic art. Roman writers such as Pliny did not hesitate to point out the overtly sexual reaction that Praxiteles' statue produced in viewers.
Sculptures with portrait-like features is characteristic of the Hellenistic Age and of the Roman times and is even encountered in isolated cases in the Greek art of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. This head of Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) is based on a bronze statue. It was said that after the death of the philosopher the statue was erected. Of the total of 20 known replicas of this head, the one in Vienna is in the best state of preservation. It is believed to be a copy from the time of the Roman emperor Claudius in the middle of the 1st century AD. The head of Aristotle is not a stylised image of a philosopher, but a portrait of pronounced individuality. For several years, Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great, and Alexander is said to have honored his teacher with a portrait statue. It is said to be sculpted by his favorite sculptor, Lysippus of Sicyon. It cannot be proved, however, that the present portrait is based on that sculpture.
Vivid scenes drawn from Greek mythology decorate the small surviving portion of this thin bronze strip. The top panel shows Menelaos, king of Sparta, reclaiming his wife Helen after the Trojan War. At the right, looking on, is the goddess Athena, identified by the name written beside her in Greek. The lower panel shows the centaur Nessos abducting Deianeira, the wife of the hero Herakles. This piece comes from a strap on the inside of a shield. In the early 500s B.C., the leather strap on a shield's interior was often decorated with strips of bronze showing mythological scenes or monsters. Many straps come from the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia. The straps were left by worshippers as dedications or gifts to the gods. The city of Argos in southern Greece was the major production site of this art form. This strap is so unique because it has the artist's signature which was rare for all Greek art.
This large Corinthian column-krater (bowl for mixing wine with water) was acquired by the collector Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803). The main illustration is of a boar hunt with the names of six of the hunters written in Greek. Previously scholars had believed that vases like this were made by the Etruscans, an early group of inhabitants of Italy. But the Greek writing on this example led Hamilton and d'Hancarville, who catalogued Hamilton's collection, to think that they were made by Greek artisans. D'Hancarville considered it one of the earliest surviving examples of ancient painting. He dated it to before 658 BC and believed that it was made by Greek workers who had set up a workshop at Capua in Italy. We now know that these vases were imported to Italy from Greece.
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