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Compare Doryphoros and Augustus

Compare these two works of art using the criteria listed below.
1. Greek Art: The Doryphoros (Polykleitos, 450 BCE)
2. Roman Art: Augustus of Primaporta (c. 20 BCE)

Answer the following list of questions (with expansion) to evaluate your choices. Be sure to introduce the works you have chosen.

- What is the form of the work?
- Does the work of art have subject matter?
- What is the content?

Solution Preview

I chose to compare the first two items listed in the sets of two provided for you to choose from in this assignment. If you choose to research another pair, use this solution as a model to complete your comparison of the two that you choose instead.

The Doryphoros (Polykleitos, 450 BCE) From Web site: comes this image: The artist is unknown (definitively), but it has been attributed to Polykleitos (the original bronze from which this marble copy was made), and alternatively, to a Greek, Apollonius of Athens (who supposedly created the marble copy). It was sculpted between 120-50 BCE (this copy and is part of the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The ORIGINAL bronze is the one the professor wanted you to use as the GREEK example, but that original one is lost, and these copies of it, from a later time, are all that we have left to envision the original Greek work.
This particular web site (listed for the image) is an educational one that is particularly good, and it carries a great deal of information about this work, including information about its supposed artist creators, as well as descriptive analyses of its construction, balance and artistic style. The content of the site is copied and pasted here for you to see, if you want to learn more and see where the following answers (below) came from:

The MIA's Doryphoros, dating from the lst century B.C., is a Roman marble copy of a Greek bronze sculpture that was made between 450 B.C. and 440 B.C. by the sculptor, Polykleitos. It is the finest of the five known copies of the entire body of this famous masterpiece that have survived relatively intact.1 Representing an athlete (or possibly Achilles), this harmonious, balanced figure with idealized proportions, typifies art from the Classical period of Greece.
This replica of the Doryphoros has been dated to the 1st century B.C. because of the high quality of the work and the almost total lack of drillwork, typical of this particular period. The rendition of the hair and the form of the support (the stump) also assist us in dating this piece because they can be linked stylistically to other known objects from specific Roman periods.

The Doryphoros and other Roman copies of Greek sculpture are extremely valuable because no bronze sculpture made by a famous Greek artist has survived to the present day. These works were often melted down in times of warfare and the metal was used for weapons. Roman copies, therefore, provide us with the only visual documentation available of Classical Greek sculpture. Before the existence of our copy was known, the best version was the one in the Museo Nazionale in Naples (found in the Municipal Gymnasium of Pompeii). In addition, both the Uffizi in Florence and the Braccio Nuovo of the Vatican have heavily restored versions.

The museum's Doryphoros has been known to scholars since the early 1970's. Our museum purchased it from an art dealer in February, 1986. Evidence such as the deep scratches on its side, which probably resulted from a plow going over it, and the marks on the cheeks and arms from the roots of plants, suggest that it had been buried in the ground for centuries. The sculpture has been reassembled from the six pieces in which it was found.

Restoration & Condition of the Doryphoros:
The MIA's Doryphoros is in exceptionally fine condition. All of the breaks are ancient except for the left arm, and the head has never been broken off. Restoration of the sculpture has been minimal: A steel pin has been inserted into the tree trunk that buttresses the right leg, and the sculpture has been reassembled from the six pieces in which it was found: the torso from head to knees, the two calves, the left foot, tree trunk and base, the right foot and base, and the area of the left arm surrounding the bend at the elbow. The tip of its nose is broken, and it has lost its left forearm and hand (which held the spear), the front of the right foot with the section of the plinth, the penis, and the ends of the fingers of the right hand. The rectangular indentation on the left hip shows where the strut which ran to the left forearm was broken away. Arms, legs, torso, and tree trunk support at the right leg have discolorations and deep striations in the marble, and there are faint encrustations of brown algae on its legs and torso.

Two significant historical events, the Persian War (early in the 5th century B.C.), and the temporary unification of Greece by Philip II of Macedonia (338 B.C.), mark the beginning and end of what we have come to call the Classical period of Greek civilization. Under Pericles (who was first elected as general-in-chief in 461 B.C.), Athens became the political, cultural, and commercial center of the western world. The pride, self-awareness, and confidence of the Greeks during their Classical Age, are reflected in the words of Pericles at the public funeral for the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War:

"Future ages will wonder at us, as the present age wonders at us now."

During the Classical era, the Parthenon was built, Aeschylus staged his first drama, Herodotus wrote the history of the Persian wars, and democracy was established as a form of government. The philosophy of humanism developed, a philosophy which emphasized the importance of the individual in society. Sophocles wrote,

"The world is full of wonders, but nothing is more wonderful than man."

The ideal man possessed not only a perfect body, but a perfect mind. At the festivals, such as the Olympic Games at Olympia and the Pythian Games at Delphi, prizes were awarded not only to the best athletes, but to the best poets, orators, dancers, and musicians as well. Through scientific observations of nature, the concepts of harmony and balance achieved through symmetry and correct proportion became the basis of Greek philosophy. The search for ideal beauty and perfection manifested itself in all areas of life including the visual arts.

The Parthenon on the Acropolis summarized the Greek ideals of harmony and rational order in architectural forms. Polykleitos codified these ideals in sculpture. The Doryphoros exemplifies Polykleitos' Canon (rule) of ideal proportions. The Doryphoros combines the naturalism of the human body, at rest and in motion, with an idealization, based on theoretical perfection. Because the Doryphoros so completely embodies Greek ideals, it has remained, over time, the primary image of Classical Greece.

Given this degree of perfection, it is not surprising that the Romans adopted the pose of the Doryphoros and other Greek statues as models for their own sculpture. Before the end of the 3rd century B.C., the Romans had begun to collect Greek statues. After Rome absorbed Greece into its empire in 146 B.C., increasing numbers of Greek originals were acquired by Romans. According to some accounts, nearly 500 statues were robbed from the sanctuary of Delphi alone.

Because many wealthy Roman aristocrats wanted sculpture for their townhouses and country villas, the demands for Greek sculpture were greater than the supply. The demand created a thriving industry that provided replicas of and variations on famous Greek originals. Roman copies were considered works of art in their own right, as the Romans were more concerned with how the ideal qualities conveyed by the original could be translated into Roman terms than with honoring the more modern idea that a work of art must be the result of individual genius. Most of these replicas were actually made by Greek artists living in Greece or the Greek cities on the coast of Asia Minor, or by Greek artists working in Rome.

During the Imperial period, beginning with Emperor Augustus, Greek sculpture was produced for political reasons, as well. Roman rulers recognized the potential of the arts to promote the ideals of their administrations, particularly as the basis of propaganda related images of Imperial power. It became common Roman practice to make full-length portrait statues by topping a body that was copied from a Greek original with a specific portrait head. In contrast to the timeless quality of their Greek models, the Romans made commemorative sculpture that depicted specific people and events. Over time, the Roman adaptation of Greek sculpture resulted in the new art form of portraiture that signified the importance of ancestry to the Roman patrician families. By depicting real individuals, the Greek ideal gave way to Roman realism that emphasized actual physical appearance as well as the character of the individual portrayed.

Whereas Greek art was overwhelmingly public, Roman art was generally commissioned for private villas and townhouses, even when the commission was a direct copy of the Greek original like the MIA's Doryphoros.

The two prominent names in the study of Classical Greek sculpture are Phidias (the master sculptor who planned the decorative program of the Parthenon and is renowned for his cult statues of Athena and Zeus) and Polykleitos, famous for his sculptures of victorious athletes. Little is known of the life of Polykleitos. He lived during the latter half of the 5th century B.C. (approximately 450-405 B.C.), and was from the Greek city-state of Argos in the eastern Peloponnesus. Polykleitos worked chiefly in bronze and became the most influential sculptor of the Peloponessian school. He wrote a treatise on art called the Canon and created the bronze sculpture of the Doryphoros to demonstrate his theories. Both the treatise and the sculpture are referred to as the Canon.

The Doryphoros is Polykleitos' most famous work. Although about 20 of his statues are recorded in ancient sources, none of his original works has survived. The Doryphoros has been called the most copied statue of antiquity. It was certainly among ...

Solution Summary

A description of two sculptural works, the Greek Doryphorus (lost), known to us only through later copies, and the Roman Augustus of Primaporta. This solution includes a discussion of the style and content, as well as content from two reference web-based resources, from which answers and comparisons are made.