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The Classical and Hellenistic Age were two of the most influential eras of Greek art. It influenced much of the Western civilization. Two of the sculptures I chose to focus on from each period was Doryphoros from the Classical Age and the Winged Victory of Samothrace from the Hellenistic Age. Both are completely mesmerizing and have similar yet different types of features that make them compelling and beautiful. In this essay, we will discuss the techniques of both sculptures used, the themes they displayed, how each sculpture represents their respective period, and how the political changes affected the sculptors and their work.
The first sculpture I would like to compare is Doryphoros from the classical age. The sculpture is made of bronze and was sculpted by Polykleitos measuring to be about 6 feet and 11 inches. Polykleitos created the sculpture using his method of Cannon. Canon is a set of mathematical rules to create proportional body parts. This was to ensure the idea of a perfect body which was favored in classical sculpture art. The mere idea of creating a human from using math was a highly improved technology the Greeks found astonishing. Polykleitos was also known for creating young athletes. One thing to compare was that the motion of the body or the symmetry was not stiff like the archaics. Polykleitos used contrapposto to show Harmony and counterbalancing. Contrapposto played a big part of the classical age sculptures. Contrapposto can be seen on doryphoros by standing on his right foot with his left leg and right arm relaxed, bearing weight on his right leg and left hand where the spear is supposed to be. His turned head shows the breaking of symmetry unlike past sculptures in time. It is meant to be shown as Lively figures or as in reality. The next sculpture I like to compare is the winged victory of Samothrace. This is a sculpture of the god Nike. Nike is the goddess of victory also known as a messenger goddess. This sculpture was made of Parian marble and measures in at an impressive 9 feet. The sculpture was found on an island called Samothrace. It is said at the harbor where it was located made the wind look as if her drapery was blowing in the wind. This Hellenistic piece of art differs from classical art due to the emotion an action it portrays. On this sculpture, you can see her voluptuousness and her kind of windswept energy. It is as if she is responding to the environment and it shows how the sculptor celebrated her body. It is not known who the sculpture is but some believe it to be the work of pythocritus. For the classical age, the focus was based on following rules such as cannons, naturalism, and religion. Hellenism focused more on the idea of freedom, using more nude women, dramatic expressions, and spiritualism.
The Doryphoros sculpture really shows off the idea of a perfect body. It doesn’t really embody reality but more of what was in the sculptor’s mind. It brought His Image to life. It also embodies the idea of Harmony and balance which was a big part of the classical period. It emphasizes his build, muscular body, as a warrior, who is supposed to be holding a spear. The classical art is all about emotion as well. Here he looks as if he’s very confident and sure of himself. The winged victory of Samothrace is a great representation of the Hellenistic era. Unlike the classical art, the Hellenistic art show. Ends of their sculptures. Nike is seen twisting her torso and it is almost like you can see the wind being blown through her drapery giving her a distinctive realness to her. It’s almost as if you feel she’s about to move or take a step. The Hellenistic art is Big On Emotion but because her face is missing off the sculpture we cannot tell exactly what emotion she is portraying but, based off her body language and her stance, must be a powerful and assertive looking as well as Victorious all at the same time. She shows a lot of characteristics from the Hellenistic period such as the symbol of freedom.
The political changes were beneficial in moving on from the classical age to the Hellenistic age. Alexander the Great began his Conquest in Athens, eventually democracy began to disappear and it slowly became a monarchy. Many Greeks started to believe that their sense of belonging was disappearing along with their democracy. Eventually in art humans started to become the object of study. It was like a conquest 4 Greeks to try and understand by searching for new meanings of life. Eventually due to social and political organization classism converts to Hellenism because of hegemony of the poleis. The death of Alexander the Great officially marked the end of the classical age. Sculptors went from creating pieces with little to no emotion to giving them creative Expressions which changed art completely.
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