People - Ancient Greece: Polykleitos
Ancient Greek bronze sculptor, who flourished in fifth and the early
4th century BC.
Polyclītus in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
Next to his somewhat older contemporary Phidias, the most admired sculptor of antiquity. He was a native of Argos, and, like Phidias, a pupil of Ageladas. His name marks an epoch in the development of Greek art, owing to his having laid down rules of universal application with regard to the proportions of the human body in its mean standard of height, age, etc. In close accordance with these rules he fashioned a typical figure, the “Doryphorus,” a powerful youth with a spear in his hand: this figure was called the κανών, and for a long time served as a standard for succeeding artists (Pliny , Pliny H. N. xxxiv. 55). The rules which he practically applied in the canon he also set forth theoretically in a written work (Galen, in Overbeck's Schriftquellen. 958, 959). It is also said of him that when he made statues in an attitude of rest, instead of dividing the weight of the body equally between the two feet, according to the custom which had hitherto prevailed, he introduced the practice of causing them to rest upon one foot, with the other foot slightly raised, whereby the impression of graceful ease and calm repose was for the first time fully produced (Pliny , l. c. 56). Except the celebrated chryselephantine colossal statue of Heré (q.v.), which he made for the temple of the goddess at Argos (Pausan. ii. 17.4), when it was rebuilt after a fire in B.C. 423, he produced statues in bronze alone, and almost exclusively of men in the prime of youth, such as the “Doryphorus” already mentioned; the “Diadumenus,” a youth of softer lineaments, who is tying a band round his head (Pliny , l. c. 55; Lucian, Philopseudes, 18); and an “Amazon,” which was preferred even to that of Phidias (Pliny , l. c. 53). These statues may still be identified in copies of a later time. He also worked as an architect. The theatre at Epidaurus (of which considerable remains still exist), the circular structure called the Tholos, and the temple of Asclepius (Pausan. ii. 27), are now generally assigned to the younger Polyclitus.
Polyclītus the Younger, a pupil of the Argive sculptor Naucydes. Among his works was a statue of the athlete Agenor (Pausan. vi. 6.2), and of Zeus Philios at Megalopolis, in which the god was represented with some of the attributes of Dionysus (id. viii. 31.4). The statues of Zeus Meilichios at Argos (id. ii. 20.1), and those of Apollo, Leto, and Artemis on Mount Lyconé near Argos (ib. 24.5), may possibly be assigned to the elder Polyclitus (Overbeck, Schriftquellen. 941-943).
Polykleitos in Wikipedia
Polykleitos (or Polyklitos, Polycleitus, Polyclitus; Greek Πολύκλειτος); called the Elder, was a Greek sculptor in bronze of the fifth and the early 4th century BC. Next to Phidias, Myron and Kresilas, he is considered the most important sculptor of Classical antiquity: the 4th-century catalogue attributed to Xenocrates (the "Xenocratic catalogue"), which was Pliny's guide in matters of art, ranked him between Phidias and Myron.
He was of the school of Argos, a contemporary of Phidias (possibly also taught by Ageladas) and, in the opinion of the Greeks, his equal. His figure of an Amazon for Ephesus was regarded as superior to those by Phidias and Kresilas at the same time; and his colossal gold and ivory statue of Hera which stood in her temple – the Heraion of Argos – was compared with the Zeus by Phidias. He also sculpted a famous bronze male nude known as the Doryphoros ("Spear-carrier"), which survives in the form of numerous Roman marble copies. Further sculptures attributed to Polykleitos are the Discophoros ("Discus-bearer"), Diadumenos ("Diadem-wearer") and a Hermes at one time placed, according to Pliny, in Lysimachia (Thrace). Polykleitos' Astragalizontes ("Boys Playing at Knuckle-bones") was claimed by the Emperor Titus and set in a place of honour in his atrium.
Polykleitos, along with Phidias, created the Classical Greek style. Although none of his original works survive, literary sources identifying Roman marble copies of his work allow reconstructions to be made. An essential element of his and the Classical Greek style is the use of a relaxed pose with the shifted balance of weight known today as contrapposto yielding a naturalness that was a source of his fame.
Polykleitos consciously created a new approach to sculpture; he wrote a treatise (Kanon) and designed a male nude (also known as Kanon) exemplifying his aesthetic theories of the mathematical bases of artistic perfection, which motivated Kenneth Clark to place him among "the great puritans of art": His Kanon "got its name because it had a precise commensurability (symmetria) of all the parts to one another" "His general aim was clarity, balance, and completeness; his sole medium of communication the naked body of an athlete, standing poised between movement and repose" Kenneth Clark observed. Though the Kanon may be represented by his Doryphoros, the bronze has not survived, but references to it in other ancient books imply that its main principle was expressed by the Greek words symmetria, the Hippocratic principle of isonomia ("equilibrium"), and rhythmos. "Perfection, he said, comes about little by little (para mikron) through many numbers". By this Polykleitos meant that a statue should be composed of clearly definable parts, all related to one another through a system of ideal mathematical proportions and balance, no doubt expressed in terms of the ratios established by Pythagoras for the perfect intervals of the musical scale: 1:2 (octave), 2:3 (harmonic fifth), and 3:4 (harmonic fourth). The refined detail of Polykleitos' models for casting executed in clay is revealed in a famous remark repeated in Plutarch's Moralia, that "the work is hardest when the clay is under the fingernail".
Polykleitos and Phidias were of the first generation of Greek sculptors to have a schools of followers. Polykleitos' school lasted for at least three generations, but it seems to have been most active in the late 4th century and early 3rd century BC. The Roman writers Pliny and Pausanias noted the names of about twenty sculptors in Polykleitos' school, defined by their adherence to his principles of balance and definition. Skopas and Lysippus are the best-known successors of Polykleitos.
His son, Polykleitos the Younger, worked in the 4th century BC. Although he was also a sculptor of athletes, his greatest fame was won as an architect. He designed the great theater at Epidaurus.
A main-belt asteroid is named after Polykleitos. See 5982 Polykletus.
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