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An international online journal of the classics and the humanities

9.R.2: Jaanika ANDERSON
Bol, Peter C. (2004) Die Geschichte der antiken Bildhauerkunst. II: Klassische Plastik. Bearbeitet von Cornelis Bol, Peter C. Bol, Renate Bol, Wilfred Geominy, Gabriele Kaminski, Detlev Kreikenbom, Michael Maaß, Cateraina Maderna, Ursula Mandel und Christiane Vorster. Bd. 1-2. Mainz am Rhein: Philipp von Zabern. XV, 589 p., 471 plates. ISBN 3-8053-3380-3.

Klassische Plastik is a large two-volume book published as vol. 2 in the series Die Geschichte der antiken Bildhauerkunst edited by Peter C. Bol, manager of Antikensammlung der Stadtischen Galerien Liebieghaus in Frankfurt am Main and professor of classical archaeology at Frankfurt University. The book expands upon the classical period of Greek sculpture (5th-4th century BCE), from Pheidias and Polykleitos to Praxiteles and Lysippos. The first volume contains text with photos of sculptures, vase paintings and different reconstructions; the second volume offers an additional 1059 black-and-white photos.

The book begins with a chapter by Peter C. Bol, who focuses on the strict style of the earlier classical period. He observes standing male-figures, for example the well-known Kritios-boy (Athens, Acropolis Museum), Omphalos Apollon (Athens, National Museum), the group of Tyrannicides by Kritios and Nesiotes (Naples, National Museum). His other interest from that period is dressed female figures, such as the copy of sitting Penelope in the Vatican Museum. Bol ponders the question of authenticity because many masterpieces of the classical age are copied by other artists. In this regard, he focuses on the sculptures of Myron and earlier works of Pheidias.

Gabriele Kaminski has written the sub-chapter on the sculptures on the buildings (Bauplastik). Naturally, she touches upon the metopes and the sculptures of the pediments of the Zeus temple in Olympia, which are very important monuments of Greek art. She also treats technical aspects, such as the schema of composition and the innovative contraposition. The text is illustrated with reconstructions of the metopes and the pediments. In her second sub-chapter, Kaminski continues with the reliefs, focusing on sculptured gravestones, their spread and iconography. She ends with a concise synopsis of the notion of strict style.

Cornelis Bolís chapter touches upon the portraits of the strict style and likewise high classical style. He focuses on the bearded portrait from Porticello, Themistokles from Ostia, Pindar, Perikles, and continues with fictive portraits of Harmodios and Aristogeiton, blind Homer and Anakreon. Bol also deals with questions of classification and individualizing of the portraits.

In the chapter on high classical style, Peter C. Bol studies the masterpieces of Polykleitos (Diadumenos, Doryphoros) and Pheidias (reliefs and sculptures of the Parthenon), as well as some by other artists from the period after the completion of the Parthenon. Various statues of the wounded Amazons are also examples of the high classical period, and are here studied by Renate Bol.

Detlev Kreikenbom focuses on the rich style and writes about the body and garments of the women. Among goddesses he has chosen Athena Giustiniani and Nike of Paionios as more well-known examples, but also heroines and simple girls are on the stage, if their coats, dresses and folds of cloth are worth a glance. He also examines the form, tradition and reception of Polykleitos and the pediment figures of the Ionian temples.

Wilfred Geominy continues with the period from 390 to 360 BCE and his interest is focused on the menís and womenís clothing and their nudeness in the Roman copies made after the Greek ones. He also pays attention to relief sculpture, especially the gravestones and the topic of the fights and war.

The next part of the book investigates the last decennia of the late classical period. One subject of the chapter is the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus with its sculptures. Caterina Maderna writes about the differences between contemporary artists (Praxiteles, Leochares, Lysippos and the school of Polykleitos). Here we can see some well-known examples, such as Hermes with little Dionysos, Knidian Aphrodite by Praxiteles, dancing Maenad, Meleagros with the dog by Skopas, Apollo Belvedere, Artemis of Versailles by Leochares, Eros with a bow, Farnese Herakles and Apoxyomenos by Lysippos.

A separate chapter is devoted to the art of the portraits in the 4th century BCE. Here, Christiane Vorster explores the portraits of the famous people, such as Sophokles, Thukydides, Sokrates, Euripides and Alexander the Great. But we also meet some unknown persons, as well as portraits of women who are distinguished in some way.

The chapter about the statuettes of the late classical period returns once more to the theme of clothing. Here, Ursula Mandel explains the aesthetic significance and function of these terracotta statuettes, which served everyday religion and were used as votive gifts.

The last chapter is devoted to the relation between Oriental and Greek sculpture. Here, Michael Maaß focuses on art of the Phoenician sarcophagus, where Eastern traditions and Hellenism meet. He describes the figured and mummy-shaped sarcophagi from the graves of the kings of Sidon, where the burial culture achieved its height.

At the end of the book, there is a listing of the images of sculptures with full annotation (location, inventory number, measure, material), as well as bibliographical notes for each object. There is also a general bibliography and an index of museums.

This is an excellent book, edited and compiled by experienced authors, and contains good general information on Greek classical art. But it is not just a compendious book on art history. It also contains detailed studies of some aspects usually left out from chronological overviews, and can thus be useful for a specialist, as well.

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