The Greatest Sculptor

There is no surviving statue by the greatest sculptor of all.
PRAXITELES is that: the artist whose figures impressed the most people and had the greatest influence on Western art. His Aphrodite of Cnidus was the most common nude (copied over and over again) in the Greek and Roman world; and his Lizard-Hunter boy and Satyr were certainly among the top ten statues of all times.

Who was he?
He lived in Athens in the fourth century, a generation after the construction of the Parthenon. Athens was bankrupt by then and Praxiteles couldn’t get any government commissions at home; so he sculpted his figures for private individuals and foreign cities.

What was so special about his figures?
They weren’t stiff or distant as gods traditionally were, but homey, human. Praxiteles brought them down from their cloud or their altar and showed them doing the simple things humans do, seeming to enjoy the life humans live. Their grace and perfection conferred a dignity on human life itself. Men and women began to look at their own beauty, which was good enough for the gods.

Since only mediocre copies of the statues survive, we can only guess how much better the originals were.

See The Most Famous Nude in History

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This entry was posted in art, art history, Beauty, Greek sculpture, sculpture. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Greatest Sculptor

  1. Jg says:

    What about the Hermes carrying the infant Dyonisios found in Olympia, on the same spot where Pausanias said there was an original by Praxitiles. I know the authorship is contested, among all it being an “original” marble work and not in the usual bronze. I think he is still out there and thus could be it. I believe there’s also a pedestal with his signature somewhere.
    Keep this great blog, always a follower here!

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