The roots of the history of sculpture in Europe can be traced back to the ancient Greece, where the great traditional forms of architectural sculpture, large-scale sculpture and statues flourished. The Greek sculptors primarily worked in stone and bronze. Classical and Hellenistic style of sculpture in Greek art carry distinct characteristics. Where the Classical sculpture is restrained and balanced, Hellenistic sculpture is extravagant plus dynamic. The composed and solemn expression of a classical figure gives in to the passionate expression found in the Hellenistic sculptures. The human body is seen to be the primary focus of ancient Greek sculptures, and one finds that almost all Greek sculptures are of nude subjects. Their celebration of the human form can be seen in their art. Another favorite subject with Greek sculptors was that of the athletes that were looked upon as heroes.
Many of the art styles and themes have been copied or reproduced even by the renowned artists of the modern day. Few original Greek works have survived; most are known only through Roman copies. Comparing art and sculptures is an excellent mean to understand the culture and society of a certain era on a deeper level. The two famous ancient sculptures that are compared in this paper are -The Artemision Bronze, from the classical era and The Ludovisi Gaul Killing Himself and His Wife, an example of Hellenistic style in Greek sculpture.
The Artemision Bronze Greek artists in the early 5th century, the classical period, were consciously rendering human and animal forms realistically, making careful and detailed observation of the model and the mechanics of anatomy. The Bronze statue of Zeus is a well known example of classical style in scuplture. The Bronze statue of Zeust was found in two parts at the bottommost part of the sea off cape Artemision in 1920s. It is certainly the work of a great sculptor of the early Classical period, representing the mightiest and greatest of the Olympian gods, Zeus who was also called Poseidon. Bronze was a popularly used for sculpting by the Greeks. As it was a strong and brittle material, it was particularly used in the construction of weapons and art. The Bronze statue of Zeus is located at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens in Greece. The head of the sculpture is now an image of Hellenic culture and is found on banknote and postage stamp.
The monumental bronze statue of Artemision is notable for the superb rendering of motion and anatomy. This is certainly the work of a great sculptor from the early Classical period, and the elegant and balanced figure is a personification of great beauty, sophisticated control, and strength. The vast and muscular torso of Zeus appears to have been rendered from a human model. It is shown in full heroic nudity with his foot and the left arm dynamically thrusting forward in his toes direction. His right arm and leg are raised with a slight bent implying movement. It can be predicted that while he was ready for action, Zeus would be originally holding a thunderbolt or rather a trident in the case of Poseidon.
Zeus seems to be paused in action with his stance, although we don’t see any noticeably contracted muscles. His weight is shifted to one foot while the other touches the ground lightly. The arms are extended and show an openness. The frontal view of the sculpture is well balanced, but he is not nearly as dimensional as was presumed. Overall, one feels a power in the sculpture possessed only by a god. The militant protector is ready for action.
The figure posing in an X position also fills the remaining space, making it wider and higher raised arms showing his prominence and his reign extent as lord of humans and gods. The sculpture stands for a subject that is superhuman and in keeping with the Greek conception of gods. It is immensely powerful and yet subject to the personality flaws of mortal beings. The three-dimensional figure is a complete mastery of anatomy, those bulging veins of his feet, intense expression on his face and the variegated transitions between muscles. Even though several criticisms can be in the other features of the statue, the head stands out to be expertly carved. All the features are classically proportionate with the thick beard strands overlapping each other as they join the finely carved hair. The eye-sockets that are empty were probably inset with bone and was used to make the lips, eyebrows and the nipples.
The statue is also mentioned as the God from the Sea, and the pose seems to be very energetic as the figure is about to throw. It shows the Zeus’ power as the front arm is in a forward position in the calculation in a clear mindset as he takes aim. Having been given the start of the action, we are left as viewers to imagine the results of the action. With the idea of Zeus’ power in our mindset, it proves that the sculptor is in a good communication and reaction with the audience.
Gaul Killing Himself and His WifeThe Gaul Peace of visual art is a copy of Hellenistic origin since it originated from a 230-220 BC after the Gauls from was defeated by Attalus. This is a Roman copy from the early period of early 2nd century AD and other copies of Roman marble that are based on the same subject and are equally famous are the Kneeling Gaul and Dying Gaul. The sculpture was probably found in the Villa Ludovisi grounds that have proved to be a great source of Roman sculpture. It is now placed in the Museo Nazionale di Roma in Rome.
The statue is made up of a white marble and has a total height of 2 meters and 11cm. The original statue was however cast using Bronze. It can still be concluded that it created a good impression to the bypassing civilians of any class. We see a dying figure of a woman and a man looking backward defiantly while plunging a sword into his breast. He supports the dying woman with his left arm. The visual art appears to be straightforward but has a great hidden story behind what is seen by the eye. It is used by the Romans to clarify their victory over the Gauls from the modern France. To understand the relationship between the Roman culture and Hellenistic culture, it is important to employ iconographic. The Gallic chieftain drives a sword inside his chest, preferring suicide to surrender. The lifeless body of his wife, the intense face of Gaul and the way his torso is turned, all stand for a theatrical gesture.
The male figure has a beautiful head with very clearly distinct facial features including the nose, eyebrows, cheek, mouth, jaw, chin and lips. The torso appears to be very muscular as well with very tight muscles not just for the suicide attempt, but also to tightly hold the woman on the right with his left arm.
The female figure has a curling hair that is longer than the hair of the man. The hair doesn’t seem to be mud-caked as that of a man, but she also has perfect facial features which appear to be lifeless. Her left arm shows no tension of the muscles and is being held by the man and is facing down as the right arm. Like the male figure, she is depicted with an extreme mood of emotions, even though she is not a Hellenistic. With her head facing down, she seems to be a freshly dead body as traces of her blood seems to appear in the shadow thighs of a man. The sculptor has given her a dignified and poignant humble treatment just like the male figure.
Another important feature here is the sword that is piercing through the chest of a man, a sign that a man is tempting to kill himself. The sword is firmly held in the right hand is evident by the tension of all the muscles in his arms
Comparing the classical styles in the Zeus statue and the Hellenistic style in the Gaul piece Greek art has an influence of Egyptian, Syrian, Minoan and Persian cultures, and the Greek sculptors knew the art of carving and bronze-casting. The main groups of settlers from Thessaly developed the traditions of sculpture within Greece. The Classical Period (c.500-323 BCE) in the chronology of sculpture in Ancient Greece is the creative high point of Greek sculpture while the Hellenistic Period (c.323-27 BCE) incorporated the 3-D art style. One can find a good comparison of classical styles in the Zeus statue and the Hellenistic style in the Gaul piece. Hellenistic art belongs to the Hellenistic period that dates from the death of Alexander the Great and the term is a modern invention. It is a depicted as a decadent style, following of the Golden Age of Classical style.
Classical styles in the Zeus
The artistic value of bronze statue from Artemision will not increase or decrease by whatever name it is called or referred to. The Classical age, to which the sculpture belongs is considered the zenith of Greek cultural achievement. The transition to realism in Greek sculptures is looked upon as one of the main revolutions in the history of art.
The figure could be of the well-known god – Zeus or a victorious athlete from pentathlon. However, scholars maintain that the statue is that of a god, looking at its size and the divine appearance. One can see the breathtaking realism of human anatomy and posture in the Artemision Bronze. Clearly, the new realism that was a symbol of classical style of Greek art and cultures could not carve directly into a stone block. It has to be based on a modeling technique, which was to first build the figures in clay and then copy them to stone or metal. The same procedure seems to have been used here.
The masterpiece of Zeus throwing a thunderbolt (which is not there in the sculpture) also faces a rivaled theory that the thunderbolt could have obscured his face. As for the function of the statue, it could have been a cult statue. However, as the statue looks impressive from different vantage points, it is best viewed in an open space and with an easy circulation. Thus, it was a votive offering, and the cult statues are often placed at the end of a temple, facing the doorway. Volvoes like the Artemision Bronze are placed in open space with a large number of spectators from all sides (Mylonas, 143-60). What looks striking is the idea of the lightning bolt that the God is ready to strike with. The three-dimensional vast torso with its intricate details completely demonstrate the mastery of anatomy. One can see perfect proportions of the body with all the intricate details that lend the figure a divine status. The hair clearly shows variations with throughout with plaits, locks and curls. The nose is however chiseled with the cheek bones pronounced to give to give Artemision Zeus realistic godlike qualities. The expression on his face and whole body shows concentration with a calm look while almost throwing something.
The main characteristics of Classical Greek Sculpture was the accuracy of anatomy and the realism of its stance. The current subject is a good idea of a figure that is moving through space, rather than merely standing. The human body has been portrayed in an ideal form here in perfect proportions. A typical character of classical style that is seen here is the body weight shifted onto a single foot leaving the other leg slightly bent. This is the first time we see the influence of gravity on the muscles and limbs of the subject.
It thus shows a clear advance in sculpture and art preceding the Hellenistic and high classical sculptures. Iconographic parallels having coins as well as face painting in the same period show that the obscuring pose of the statues is extremely unlikely. However, the problem could be avoided since the trident may have been unusually short. On the other hand, Zeus statue is essentially a bigger version of the extensive series of the smaller solid bronze figurines that existed during that period. Back to the late 7th century, all the exciting sculptures stroked a similar pose as represented by Zeus. On this basis as well as other iconographic parallels having vase-painting, many scholars currently suggest it is the image of Zeus (Marten, 2012).
The sculpture presents its subject in a more supernatural way other than just maintaining the Greek ideal conception of gods as immensely powerful and immortal. They are however subject to unpredictable emotions and personality flaws of mortal beings. The sculpture could have probably been created to please their gods in return for getting a divine assistance and favors in a temple that might have been dedicated to Zeus (Finn, 1983). The size of the sculpture and a great strength it exudes in the fifth-century classical style makes it an original work.
The god is captured at the pause moment in the full potentiality of the coming movement as described by Boardman (1985). The figure shows the potential for violence as it is concentrated and poised to throw. The action is however beginning, and the observers are left in a dilemma to contemplate the resulting demonstration of strength. Dependence of this perceptions is based on analytical point of view of various people. The art is, therefore, an original work of great strength showing the severe style which preceded the classical style in the fifth-century that is dated to CA. 460 BCE.
Hellenistic Expression of the Gaul Piece of art
Hellenistic sculptors embraced dynamism and extravagance which was in sharp contrast to majestic calm of Classical statues. As the Greek culture flourished under the rule of Alexander with the creation of the Macedonian empire, we find the influence of the eastern Mediterranean on the Greek art and sculptors. The architecture became ambitious and adorned major sculptural decoration. The idealized realism of the classical style could go no further, and progress was seen towards impressionistic versions of the classical forms. While, during the Classical age, sculptors were obsessed with physically "perfect" figures (Spivey, 107-10), the Hellenistic period embraced the real people with all their imperfections and follies.
The statue of Ludovisi Gaul killing, committing suicide and killing the wife as well is an artifact that together with The Dying Gaul statue depicts a good impression to bypassing civilian of different classes. The couple is depicted as typical non-Hellenistic featuring an extreme emotion. The sculptor gives them a dignified and poignant treatment worthy of the mighty and humbled enemy. The male figure is standing with the legs apart in order to give full support of the woman he is holding on the right. His supporting leg, the left leg, is standing in front of him while the right leg appears to be pointing backwards. The male figure depicts an extreme emotion and has received a dignified and poignant treatment even though he appears to be a crestfallen enemy
Gaul Killing himself is an expression of extreme emotion, and we find a dignified treatment worthy of the humiliated enemy. The statue carries much more than just form and style. The facial features appear to be in a perfect Hellenistic proportion despite the fact that he is not of the Hellenistic origin. To specify the ethnic origin and the non-Hellenistic identity of the statue, the sculptor adds some distinct and specific features. The moustache is very clear on the male figure as a clear indication that it is not of the Hellenistic origin. The Roman and the Hellenistic people were not related to or depicted with moustache. It is because the custom of smooth shaving was introduced by Alexander the great, the then ruler of the Kingdom during those days.
His typical Gallic mud-caved hair appears to be a satyr tousled hair of a woodland creature. The creature is always depicted to having pointed ears, short horns of a goat, legs and a fondness used in unrestrained revelry. He is thus considered a threat towards the civilized order entered at the Pergamon. The sword in the hand of Gaul is short, and it suggests that it is a Roman sword. After having just killed his wife, he is about to kill himself (Pridmore, 357).
Hellenistic art is particularly intense in its emotionality, and the sculpture is a good example of that. The dead and dying Gauls touch us with raw emotion. The only piece of clothing Gaul is wearing is a cape that hangs all the way till his lower back and appears to be moving under sway of the wind. As the cape is worn around his neck, it suggests he is not Hellenistic but Gallic as Hellenists often wore togas. The muscles of his torso are taut not only because he is about to attempt suicide, but is also supporting the woman on the right. His private parts are relatively small, and this is another typical feature in Hellenistic expression. Despite the fact that he is a humbled enemy, he stand with a dignified posture and in extreme emotion.
Although the female is not Roman or Hellenistic, she is wearing a toga with magnificent elaborated folds that covers a lot more as compared to the cape worn by the male. Her knees, legs and feet rest on the ground, showing that there is no life in her. Despite the fact that she is not Hellenistic, she has been depicted with extreme emotion, just like the male figure.
The Dying Gaul has mustache while it retains the Greek style of heroic nudity. The figures are a careful blend of naturalism and artifice. In the faces of Classical statues, one finds a uniformity that is beautiful, while, in the Hellenistic art, one finds ethnic distinctions in the facial differences.
The changing environment and style of the artists is reflected in the work of the statue of Ludovisi Gaul killing and Zeus of Artemision. The organic harmony and balance of Zeus are characteristic of the accepted ideals of the Classical way. On the other hand, one finds superior anatomical accuracy in the Gaul killing himself that is found later in Hellenistic art. The face of Zeus is smooth and his muscular body is perfect, portraying the idealism of the old Classical art. Hellenistic art weakened these specified ideals as the artists aimed to show the world as it was, The sculptures from the Hellenistic age showed realism, passion, violence and reflected life as it was. Gaul killing himself is a good example of this style where the emphasis is more on the anatomical accuracy and the expressions of the subjects. The lifeless body of his wife is surrounded by the sentiment of death while the Gaul, about to die gives a dignified expression with his face turned away.
The research paper on the Hellenistic style of Gaul piece and the classical styles used in Zeus statue offer an in-depth and comprehensive comparisons of the various works. The increased self-confidence of the Greeks can be seen in their progress in Greek art. Their artists increased the realism and naturalism of human figures. A particularly dramatic shift can be seen in the Hellenistic period, when the artists did not stick to classical conventions, became more experimental and explored their subjects from different unique points of view. One can see a greater expression of power and emotions in the Hellenistic era as compared to the Classical age that stressed on the perfect anatomy of human figures.
Sculpture has been a very central part of art history and to conclude on the examples of Greek classical sculptures and Greek Hellenistic sculptures. It can be analyzed that every sculpture offers very interesting characteristics and are truly a great work of art. The fascinating stance and dramatic eyes, as well as a change in line from smooth to linear and drastic. In the Hellenistic Greek sculptures, one finds the classical realism replaced by expressionism.
Boardman, John. Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period, A Handbook. London: Thames & Hudson, 1985.Finn, David. Greek Monumental Bronze Sculptures. New York: Vendome Press, 1983.
Mylonas, George E. "The Bronze Statue from Artemision." American Journal of Archaeology 48.2 (1944): 143-60. Print.Marten V. N (2012), the Galatian suicide unravelling the Ludovisi Gaul killing himself and his wife, Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/5180896/The_Galatian_Suicide_Unravelling_the_Ludovisi_Gaul_killing_himself_and_his_wife
Pridmore, Saxby. "A Murder-Suicide in Sculpture." Australasian psychiatry : bulletin of Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 20.4 (2012): 357-. Print.Spivey, Nigel. "The Emergence of the Classical Style in Greek Sculpture." The British Journal of Aesthetics 52.1 (2012): 107-10. Print.