Sunday, September 11, 2016

Antiquities: Art & Design During the Time of Alexander the Great (Issue #2) + FOOD, is good health, diet, exercise or both?

Stater of Mithridates VI Eupator (120-63 BC)


Art & Design 
During the Time 
of Alexander 
the Great
at the Met 
(continued - Issue #2)

(From the Met Museum of Art NYC Exhibition: 
Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms 

of the Ancient World)

Terracotta statuette of the Diadoumenos (youth tying a fillet around his head)

1st century b.c., Greek
Connoisseurship and the origins of the discipline of art history began in the Hellenistic period. Greek statues of the fifth century B.C., notably works by Polykleitos, Phidias, and others, were sought out and frequently replicated. The pose of the famous statue of the Diadoumenos by Polykleitos is recognizable in this statuette, but the slender, graceful forms conform to Late Hellenistic taste.

Although terracotta was one of the most abundantly available and inexpensive materials of sculptural production in antiquity, it was used to make miniature copies less widely than might be expected. Apparently, only a few centers of production concentrated on this sculptural genre, and those that did limited their choices of subject considerably. The Greek city of Smyrna on the west coast of Asia Minor was among the most important copying centers, and a number of large- and small-scale replicas or variations of well-known statuary types, from both the Classical and Hellenistic periods, were made there.

Bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer

Hellenistic, 3rd - 2nd century b.c.
The complex motion of this dancer is conveyed exclusively through the interaction of the body with several layers of dress. Over an undergarment that falls in deep folds and trails heavily, the figure wears a lightweight mantle, drawn tautly over her head and body by the pressure applied to it by her right arm, left hand, and right leg. Its substance is conveyed by the alternation of the tubular folds pushing through from below and the freely curling softness of the fringe. The woman's face is covered by the sheerest of veils, discernible at its edge below her hairline and at the cutouts for the eyes. Her extended right foot shows a laced slipper. This dancer has been convincingly identified as one of the professional entertainers, a combination of mime and dancer, for which the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria was famous in antiquity.

Bronze statue of Eros sleeping

Hellenistic period, 3rd - 2nd century b.c.

The Hellenistic period introduced the accurate characterization of age. Young children enjoyed great favor, whether in mythological form, as baby Herakles or Eros, or in genre scenes, playing with each other or with pets. This Eros, god of love, has been brought down to earth and disarmed, a conception considerably different from that of the powerful, often cruel, and capricious being so often addressed in Archaic poetry. One of the few bronze statues to have survived from antiquity, this figure of a plump baby in relaxed pose conveys a sense of the immediacy and naturalistic detail that the medium of bronze made possible. He is clearly based on firsthand observation. The support on which the god rests is a modern addition, but the work originally would have had a separate base, most likely of stone.  

This statue is the finest example of its kind. Judging from the large number of extant replicas, the type was popular in Hellenistic and, especially, Roman times. In the Roman period, Sleeping Eros statues decorated villa gardens and fountains. Their function in the Hellenistic period is less clear. They may have been used as dedications within a sanctuary of Aphrodite or possibly may have been erected in a public park or private, even royal, garden.

Gold armband with Herakles knot

The Herakles knot on this sumptuous armband is enriched with floral decoration and inlaid with garnets, emeralds, and enamel. According to the Roman writer Pliny, the decorative device of the Herakles knot could cure wounds, and its popularity in Hellenistic jewelry suggests that it was thought to have the power to avert evil.

Pair of gold armbands

These imposing serpentine armbands represent two tritons, male and female, each holding a small winged Eros. The hoops behind the tritons' heads were used to attach the armbands to the sleeves of a garment, for otherwise, their weight (each over 6 1/2 ounces) would have caused them to slip down the arms.

Glass situla (bucket) with silver handles

Translucent greenish.
Everted, angular rim, with thick vertical outer edge; slightly convex side tapering downwards; slightly domed bottom; two handle attachments, each pierced by two horizontal holes, project outward and upward from the edge of the rim on opposite sides of the bucket; two silver handles, each cut from a flat sheet into a semicircular arched strip, end in U-shaped round rods with decorative finials that are turned upward through the holes in the handle attachments.

The handle attachments are carved into rounded rectilinear blocks with a central upward finial with a raised outer surface, resembling a stylized palmette. On exterior, painted decoration extends from underside of rim to the bottom, comprising four main elements: at top, under rim, a continuous dog-tooth band in purplish red, with a thin line of light (Egyptian) blue below; on body, several irregular horizontal bands of small bud-like objects in shades of pinkish red, with details outlined in dark brown; on bottom, similar small objects, perhaps arranged in a rosette pattern; finally, two vertical stripes run down the sides of the bucket below the handle attachments, both are block-filled with purplish red paint, into which the lines of slender wavy tendrils have been incised freehand. Traces of gilding are visible on the stripes and elsewhere on the sides. The silver handles are fashioned into a stylized bud at the end of each rod. 

Broken and repaired from numerous small fragments, with some losses and areas of fill; a few bubbles and many internal strain cracks; slight pitting and areas of whitish iridescent weathering; the silver handles are also broken and repaired.

The situla was used for cooling and serving wine at banquets. This one is made of almost colorless glass. It was cast and carved, and then bands of gilded and painted decoration were applied around the outside. The vessel is highly unusual in both shape and decoration, and few parallels in glass are known. It may, however, be compared with metal examples such as the bronze situla of the Prusias Find, which is displayed in the gallery for Greek art of the fourth century B.C.

Medallion with relief bust of Athen

Hellenistic, 2nd century B.C. Greek

Medium: Gold, blue enamel

Dimensions: 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm) 

Classification: Gold and Silver 

(Source: Photos by ARTSnFOOD staff and supplied by the Met Museum NYC, Any text came from the Met Museum press dept. and the wall plaques next to each work of art at the exhibition. All photos were taken with permission.)

Until later,
ARTS&FOOD is an online magazine dedicated to providing artists and collectors around the world with highlights of current art exhibitions, and to encourage all readers to invest in and participate in “The Joy of Art” and Culture. All Rights Reserved. All concepts, original art, text & photography, which are not otherwise credited, are copyright 2016 © Jack A. Atkinson, under all international, intellectual property and copyright laws. All gallery events', museum exhibitions', art fairs' or art festivals' photographs were taken with permission or provided by the event or gallery. All physical artworks are the intellectual property of the individual artists and © (copyright) individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees. 
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