Development of_Greek Sculpture

  Hints for dating works (-> 450BC)


c1200 BC

Mycenaean civilisation collapsed. Dark age followed until the beginning of the 8th Century BC - very little sculpture found from this time. But the Geometric period emerged when all vases were decorated with geometric shapes, animals and funerals. They were all highly stylized - eg stick men etc. Sculpture on a small scale - statuettes and bronze (or clay) figurines = often dedications discovered at religious sanctuaries (main ones were Olymlpia, Delphi, Dodona). Very strong Eastern influence in many works - executed by migrants from the East? Geometric sculptures = very two-dimensional. Faces meant to be seen frontally as is the torso, but legs etc from the side (in profile). Male sculptured in nude and females clothed.


Mid 7th Century BC - monumental sculpture emerges:


  1. size
  2. the impression of durability - a memorial
  3. simplicity and clarity in its outlines.

First new style = Daedalic (not really monumental ) - 2 dimensional - very distinctive patterned hair (long). Examples:

(a) Dedication (marble) of Nikandre (from Naxos) at the sanctuary of Apollo and Artemis, Delos height = 5' 8" (Nat Mus Athens).

(b) "Venus" from Auxerre (Paris) (Limestone, with traces of paint) - height = 24 1/2" (=c. one third of height of Nikandre figure).

(c) Bronze statuette of a man carrying a ram on his shoulders, from Crete (head - Daedelic, the dress = Cretan). Later 7th Century BC - height 7 1/8" - see Boardman's "Greek Art" p 63.


Archaic style

- Egyptian influence? - - the degree of this, if any, is disputed by scholars. (1) Style emerges in second half of 7th Ceintury BC when there was Greek contact with Egypt. (2) Similarities in appearance and pose between the Greek kouroi and the Egyptian male statues (the latter had very rigid conventional pose - nude, with loincloth - clenched fist with uncarved cylinder of stone) - but Egyptian pose more static than Greek. (3) Technique - Egyptians had meticulous craft technique - proportional schemes for the representation of the human body determined in units of height - grid system used. But the Greeks were far more flexible in their approach. General characteristics - slow movement to naturalism. NB the Archaic smile. Animals - popular - strongly rendered.


Kouroi - First one c 600 BC - very stilted - long hair in complicated fashion. Examples -

  1. 'New York" Kouros (Met Mus of Art) and
  2. Sounion Kouros (Nat Mus Athens).

Between 600 -> 510 BC

  • 'better" anatomical detail
  • toes curved,
  • muscles more realistic,
  • legs and waist slimmer.

(cf Tenea Kouros (c 550 BC) - in Munich; kouros from Melos (c 550 BC) - Nat Mus Athens; Anavyssos kouros - (c 520 BC) - Nat Mus Athens).


Between 510 - 490 BC

(a) Only 2 divisions of stomach muscles; (b) Neck, shoulders, eyes, collarbone in particular become more "real"; (c) distribution of weight introduced - cf Kritios boy (Acropolis Museum, Athens) - no archaic smile - breaking away from old style.


Korai (plural of Kore)

- early 6th Century very masculine and very stylized. 570 BC -> hand holds drapery. Hair long, heavy often with hats - they carry offerings Statues used as dedications. Wear:

  1. Chiton (sleeveless with belt)
  2. Peplos (sleeveless overgarment)
  3. Mantle (over one shoulder)
  4. Epiblema (squarish drape)

550 to Late 6th Century BC:

  • Hair in locks - more natural
  • Heavy peplos only sometimes worn over chiton - latter = lighter and more voluminous.
  • Hand has pulled drapery to the front
  • Earrings etc worn - made separately. 530-520 - lead pieces added afterwards

Towards the end of the 6th Century BC texture of drapery becomes more complicated - body begins to show through - its contours, outline etc - "really beautiful" kore after 500 BC.

Examples -

  • "Berlin goddess" (also known as "Pomegranate' Kore - from Keratia in Attica early 6th Century)
  • "Hera" from Samos, dedicated by Cheramyes - circa 56O BC (Paris)
  • "Peplos Kore"(circa 530 BC) (Acropolis Museum, Athens)
  • "Girl from Chios"(P79 of Boardman's GA) (late 6th Century BC) (Acropolis Museum)
  • "Antenor's Kore"also from the Acropolis (circa 530-520)
  • "Acropolis Kore"674 (510-500 BC)
 5. CLASSICAL style - idealism - serene portrayal of figures "complete mastery" 450 BC to 430 BC
  • Parthenon sculptures (Metopes, Frieze and Pedimental figures).
  • Colossal works of Pheidias (Athena and Olymp Zeus - known from varies copies)
  • "Doryphorus" of Polycleitus (pose of subject seems to be frozen in mid-action) (circa 450 BC)
  • The "Diadoumenos"of Polycleitus (youth binding hair with band) (both Roman marble copies of Bronze originals - the latter probably circa 430 BC);
  • Numerous Roman copies of statues of Amazons (Polycleitus, Kresilas, Pheidias)
  • Nike of Paionios at Olympia (circa 420 BC)
  • Caryatids of Erechtheum
  • Temple of Apollo at Bassae Sculptural frieze (in the British Museum)
  • Balustrade of the Temple of Athena Nike (circa 410-07 BC)
  • "Nereid Monument" Figures on the funeral monument at Xanthos in Lycia (circa 400 BC) - in the British Museum
  • "Venus Genetrix" - several copies (late 5th Century BC)
  • Wounded Niobid (late 5th Century BC) (Rome).

Increasingly subtle and complex use of drapery is very important in the development of the classical style

  1. Transparency of drapery
  2. Modelling line - use of folds to model and pick out limbs
  3. Motion line - drapery can suggest movement.
  4. Catenary folds - "loops" of drapery hanging in loose manner.
6. Period of 4th Century BC.
  • Grave reliefs.
  • Scopas - Praxiteles. Lysippus.
  • "Eirene and Ploutos" - Roman marble copy of Bronze original by Kephisototus (circa 370 BC);
  • Frieze from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (circa 350 BC) - Scopas, Bryaxis, Timotheos and Leochares (British Museum).
  • Demeter from Knidos (circa 340-330 BC) (British Museum).

Remember - POSE:, ANATOMY, PROPORTION = P, A, P (or Drapery)