Praxiteles (/prækˈsɪtɪliːz/; Greek: Πραξιτέλης) of Athens, the son of Cephisodotus the Elder, was the most renowned of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century BC. He was the first to sculpt the nude female form in a life-size statue. While no indubitably attributable sculpture by Praxiteles is extant, numerous copies of his works have survived; several authors, including Pliny the Elder, wrote of his works; and coins engraved with silhouettes of his various famous statuary types from the period still exist.
A supposed relationship between Praxiteles and his beautiful model, the Thespian courtesan Phryne, has inspired speculation and interpretation in works of art ranging from painting (Gérôme) to comic opera (Saint-Saëns) to shadow play (Donnay).
Some writers have maintained that there were two sculptors of the name Praxiteles. One was a contemporary of Pheidias, and the other his more celebrated grandson. Though the repetition of the same name in every other generation is common in Greece, there is no certain evidence for either position.
|Smarthistory – After Praxiteles, Venus (Roman Copy)|
Accurate dates for Praxiteles are elusive, but it is likely that he was no longer working in the time of Alexander the Great, in the absence of evidence that Alexander employed Praxiteles, as he probably would have done. Pliny's date, 364 BC, is probably that of one of his most noted works.
Praxiteles and his school worked almost entirely in marble. At the time the marble quarries of Paros were at their best; nor could any marble be finer for the purposes of the sculptor than that of which the Hermes from Olympia (illustration) was fashioned. Some of the statues of Praxiteles were coloured by the painter Nicias, and in the opinion of the sculptor they gained greatly by this treatment.
In 1911, the Encyclopædia Britannica noted that "Our knowledge of Praxiteles has received a great addition, and has been placed on a satisfactory basis, by the discovery at Olympia in 1877 of his statue of Hermes with the Infant Dionysus, a statue which has become famous throughout the world." Later opinions have varied, reaching a low with the sculptor Aristide Maillol, who railed, "It's kitsch, it's frightful, it's sculpted in soap from Marseille". In 1948, Carl Blümel published it in a monograph as The Hermes of a Praxiteles, reversing his earlier (1927) opinion that it was a Roman copy, finding it not 4th century either but referring it instead to a Hellenistic sculptor, a younger Praxiteles of Pergamon.
The sculpture was located where Pausanias had seen it in the late 2nd century AD. Hermes is represented in the act of carrying the child Dionysus to the nymphs who were charged with his rearing. The uplifted right arm is missing, but the possibility that the god holds out to the child a bunch of grapes to excite his desire would reduce the subject to a genre figure, C. Waldstein noted in 1882, remarking that Hermes looks past the child, "the clearest and most manifest outward sign of inward dreaming". The statue is today exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.
Opposing arguments have been made that the statue is a copy by a Roman copyist, perhaps of a work by Praxiteles that the Romans had purloined. Mary Wallace suggested a 2nd-century date and a Pergamene origin on the basis of the sandal type. Other assertions have been attempted by scholars to prove the origins of the statue on the basis of the unfinished back, the appearance of the drapery, and the technique used with the drilling of the hair; however scholars cannot conclusively use any of these arguments to their advantage because exceptions exist in both Roman and Greek sculpture.
Other works that appear to be copies of Praxiteles' sculpture express the same gracefulness in repose and indefinable charm as the 'Hermes and Infant Dionysus'. Among the most notable of these are the Apollo Sauroktonos, or the lizard-slayer, which portrays a youth leaning against a tree and idly striking with an arrow at a lizard. Several Roman copies from the 1st century are known including those at the Louvre Museum, the Vatican Museums, and the National Museums Liverpool.
Also, the Aphrodite of Cnidus at the Vatican Museums is a copy of the statue made by Praxiteles for the people of Cnidus, and by them valued so highly that they refused to sell it to King Nicomedes in exchange for discharging the city's enormous debt (Pliny).
On June 22, 2004, the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), announced the acquisition of an ancient bronze sculpture of Apollo Sauroktonos. The work is alleged to be the only near-complete original work by Praxiteles, though the dating and attribution of the sculpture will continue to be studied. The work was to be included in the 2007 Praxiteles exhibition organized by the Louvre Museum in Paris, but pressure from Greece, which disputes the work's provenance and legal ownership, caused the French to exclude it from the show.
The Apollo Lykeios or Lycian Apollo, another Apollo-type reclining on a tree, is usually attributed to Praxiteles. It shows the god resting on a support (a tree trunk or tripod), his right arm touching the top of his head, and his hair fixed in braids on the top of a head in a haircut typical of childhood. It is called "Lycian" not after Lycia itself, but after its identification with a lost work described by Lucian as being on show in the Lykeion, one of the gymnasia of Athens.
The Resting Satyr of the Capitol at Rome has commonly been regarded as a copy of one of the Satyrs of Praxiteles, but it cannot be identified in the list of his works. Moreover, the style is hard and poor; a far superior replica exists in a torso in the Louvre. The attitude and character of the work are certainly of Praxitelean school.
Excavations at Mantineia in Arcadia have brought to light the base of a group of Leto, Apollo and Artemis by Praxiteles. This base was doubtless not the work of the great sculptor himself, but of one of his assistants. Nevertheless, it is pleasing and historically valuable. Pausanias (viii. 9, I) thus describes the base, "on the base which supports the statues there are sculptured the Muses and Marsyas playing the flutes (auloi)." Three slabs which have survived represent Apollo; Marsyas; a slave, and six of the Muses, the slab which held the other three having disappeared.
The Leconfield Head (a head of the Aphrodite of Cnidus type, included in the 2007 exhibition at the Louvre) in the Red Room, Petworth House, West Sussex, UK, was claimed by Adolf Furtwängler to be an actual work of Praxiteles, based on its style and its intrinsic quality. The Leconfield Head, the keystone of the Greek antiquities at Petworth was probably bought from Gavin Hamilton in Rome in 1755.
Aphrodite of Cnidus was Praxiteles's most famous statue. It was the first time that a full-scale female figure was portrayed nude. Its renown was such, that it was immortalised in a lyric epigram:
According to Pausanias there was a statue of Artemis made by Praxiteles in her temple in Anticyra of Phokis. The appearance of the statue, which represented the goddess with a torch and an arch in her hands and a dog at her feet, is known from a 2nd-century BC bronze coin of the city. A recently dscovered dedicatory inscription of the 3rd-2nd century identifies the goddess at Antikya as Artemis Eleithyia.
Vitruvius (vii, praef. 13) lists Praxiteles as an artist on the Mausoleum of Maussollos and Strabo (xiv, 23, 51) attributes to him the whole sculpted decoration of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. These mentions are widely considered as dubious.
Besides these works, associated with Praxiteles by reference to notices in ancient writers, there are numerous copies of the Roman age, statues of Hermes, of Dionysus, of Aphrodite of Satyrs and Nymphs and the like, in which a varied expression of Praxitelean style may be discerned.
The Aphrodite of Knidos (or Cnidus) was an Ancient Greek sculpture of the goddess Aphrodite created by Praxiteles of Athens around the 4th century BCE. It is one of the first life-sized representations of the nude female form in Greek history, displaying an alternative idea to male heroic nudity. Praxiteles' Aphrodite is shown nude, reaching for a bath towel while covering her pubis, which, in turn leaves her breasts exposed. Up until this point, Greek sculpture had been dominated by male nude figures. The original Greek sculpture is no longer in existence; however, many Roman copies survive of this influential work of art. Variants of the Venus Pudica (suggesting an action to cover the breasts) are the Venus de' Medici and the Capitoline Venus.Apollo Sauroctonos
Apollo Sauroktonos (Apollo Lizard-killer) is the title of several 1st - 2nd century AD Roman marble copies of an original by the ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles. The statues depict a nude adolescent [Apollo]] about to catch a lizard climbing up a tree. Copies are included in the collections of the Louvre Museum, the Vatican Museums, and the National Museums Liverpool.Apollo and Daphnis (Perugino)
Apollo and Daphnis is a c.1483 mythological painting by Perugino. It was sold to the Louvre in Paris in 1883, where it still hangs and in whose catalogue it is known as Apollo and Marsyas. By the 1880s it had become misattributed to Raphael.
It one of the most notable works commissioned from the artist by Lorenzo de' Medici. In the background is a rural scene with a city or castle, a three-arch bridge, trees typical of Perugino, hills and a river. The two nude figures in the foreground allude to that in ancient Greek and Roman art - this and the other classical references demonstrate how the work is intended to be decoded by the humanist classical elite of Florence. The standing contrapposto figure is the god Apollo, carrying a baton in his left hand and with a bow and quiver behind him. His pose draws on that of Hermes in a sculpture of Hermes and Dionysius by Praxiteles, now best known from the copy Hermes and the Infant Dionysus rediscovered in the 19th century.
The identity of the seated flute-playing figure on the left is debated - it may be Marsyas, but that character is usually depicted as a satyr and so it may instead by Daphnis, a young shepherd who died of love for Apollo. Daphnis is the Greek form of the name Laurus, possibly linking the work to Lorenzo de Medici. His pose draws on a sculpture of Hermes by Lysippus, best known from the Seated Hermes discovered in 1758.Archaeological Museum of Olympia
The Archaeological Museum of Olympia (Greek: Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο Ολυμπίας) is one of the principal museums of Greece, located in Olympia. It is overseen by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and, as of 2009, is directed by Georgia Xatzi. When the original building was completed and opened in 1882, it was the first museum in Greece outside of Athens.
The museum houses discoveries from the surrounding area, including the site of the Ancient Olympic Games. The collection includes objects produced and used in the area from prehistory to its time under Roman rule. The principal pieces in the museum are Hermes and the Infant Dionysus (attributed to Praxiteles), some objects from the Temple of Zeus, the Nike of Paionios, as well as an oenochoe that belonged to Phidias. The extent of its bronze collection makes it one of the most important in the world.
Today, the museum is housed in two buildings: the principal building with twelve rooms for exhibitions, organized both around themes and ages of the objects. The other building is dedicated to the museum store, and is separate from the main structure, located on the path to the archaeological site.Brauroneion
The Brauroneion was the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia on the Athenian Acropolis, located in the southwest corner of the Acropolis plateau, between the Chalkotheke and the Propylaia in Greece. It was originally dedicated during the reign of Peisistratos. Artemis Brauronia, protector of women in pregnancy and childbirth, had her main sanctuary at Brauron, a demos on the east coast of Attica.
The sanctuary on the Acropolis was of an unusual trapezoidal shape and did not contain a formal temple. Instead, a portico or stoa served that function. The stoa measured circa 38 by 6.8 m; it stood in front of the southern Acropolis wall, facing north. At its corners, there were two risalit-like side wings, each about 9.3 m long, the western one facing east and vice versa. North of the east wing stood a further short west-facing stoa. All of the sanctuary's western part, now lost, stood on the remains of the Mycenaean fortification wall. All that remains of the eastern pare are foundations for walls, cut into the bedrock, as well as some very few architectural members of limestone.
One of the wings contained the wooden cult statue (xoanon) of the goddess. Women who petitioned Artemis for help habitually dedicated items of clothing, which were draped around the statue. In 346 BC, a second cult statue was erected. According to Pausanias, it was a work by Praxiteles.
"There is also a sanctuary [at Athens] of Artemis Brauronia (of Brauron); the image is the work of Praxiteles, but the goddess derives her name from the parish of Brauron. The old wooden image is in Brauron, Artemis Tauria (of Tauros) as she is called."The entrance to the small sacred precinct, near its northeast corner, is still marked by seven rock-cut steps. They, and its northern enclosure, were probably created by Mnesicles during the building of the Propylaia. The date of the complex in its final shape is unclear, but a date around 430 BC, similar to that of the adjacent Propylaia, is commonly assumed.
If still in use by the 4th-century, the temple would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire, when the Christian Emperors issued edicts prohibiting non-Christian worship.Diana of Gabii
The Diana of Gabii is a statue of a woman in drapery which probably represents the goddess Artemis and is traditionally attributed to the sculptor Praxiteles. It became part of the Borghese collection and is now conserved in the Louvre with the inventory number Ma 529.Eirene (goddess)
Eirene (; Greek: Εἰρήνη, Eirēnē, [eːrɛ́ːnɛː], lit. "Peace"), more commonly known in English as Peace, was one of the Horae, the personification of peace. She was depicted in art as a beautiful young woman carrying a cornucopia, sceptre, and a torch or rhyton. She is said sometimes to be the daughter of Zeus and Themis and sister of Dike and Eunomia. Her Roman equivalent was Pax.
Eirene was particularly well regarded by the citizens of Athens. After a naval victory over Sparta in 375 BC, the Athenians established a cult for Peace, erecting altars to her. They held an annual state sacrifice to her after 371 BC to commemorate the Common Peace of that year and set up a votive statue in her honour in the Agora of Athens. The statue was executed in bronze by Cephisodotus the Elder, likely the father or uncle of the famous sculptor Praxiteles. It was acclaimed by the Athenians, who depicted it on vases and coins.Although the statue is now lost, it was copied in marble by the Romans; one of the best surviving copies is in the Munich Glyptothek. It depicts the goddess carrying a child with her left arm – Plutus, the god of plenty and son of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. Peace's missing right hand once held a sceptre. She is shown gazing maternally at Plutus, who is looking back at her trustingly. The statue is an allegory for Plenty (i.e., Plutus) prospering under the protection of Peace; it constituted a public appeal to good sense. The copy in the Glyptothek was originally in the collection of the Villa Albani in Rome but was looted and taken to France by Napoleon I. Following Napoleon's fall, the statue was bought by Ludwig I of Bavaria.Epigrams (Plato)
Eighteen Epigrams are attributed to Plato, most of them considered spurious. These are short poems suitable for dedicatory purposes written in the form of elegiac couplets.Hermes and the Infant Dionysus
Hermes and the Infant Dionysus, also known as the Hermes of Praxiteles or the Hermes of Olympia is an ancient Greek sculpture of Hermes and the infant Dionysus discovered in 1877 in the ruins of the Temple of Hera, Olympia, in Greece. It is displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.
It is traditionally attributed to Praxiteles and dated to the 4th century BC, based on a remark by the 2nd century Greek traveller Pausanias, and has made a major contribution to the definition of Praxitelean style. Its attribution is, however, the object of fierce controversy among art historians.
The sculpture is unlikely to have been one of Praxiteles' famous works, as no ancient replicas of it have been identified. The documentary evidence associating the work with Praxiteles is based on a passing mention by the 2nd-century AD traveller Pausanias.Lermontov (crater)
Lermontov is an impact crater on the planet Mercury, 152 kilometers in diameter. It is located at 15.2°N, 48.1°W, southwest of the crater Proust and northeast of the crater Giotto. It has a circular rim and a flat crater floor. Lermontov is likely a mature crater, but it remains a bright feature because of low opaque material on its floor. The crater is named after Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov, a 19th-century Russian poet. The name was approved by the International Astronomical Union in 1976.The crater floor is somewhat brighter than the exterior surface and is smooth with several irregularly shaped depressions. Such features, similar to those found on the floor of Praxiteles, may be evidence of past explosive volcanic activity on the crater floor. Lermontov appears reddish in enhanced-color views, suggesting that it has a different composition from the surrounding surface.Lyceus
The Apollo Lyceus (Greek: Ἀπόλλων Λύκειος, Apollōn Lukeios) type, also known as Lycean Apollo, originating with Praxiteles and known from many full-size statue and figurine copies as well as from 1st century BCE Athenian coinage, is a statue type of Apollo showing the god resting on a support (a tree trunk or tripod), his right forearm touching the top of his head and his hair fixed in braids on the top of a head in a haircut typical of childhood. It is called "Lycean" not after Lycia itself, but after its identification with a lost work described, though not attributed to a sculptor, by Lucian as being on show in the Lyceum, one of the gymnasia of Athens. According to Lucian, the god leaning on a support with his bow in his left hand and his right resting on his head is shown "as if resting after long effort." Its main exemplar is the Apollino in Florence or Apollo Medici, in the Uffizi, Florence.
The attribution, based on the type's "elongated proportions, elegant pose and somewhat effeminate anatomy", as Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway characterised it, is traditionally supported on the grounds of the type's similarity to Praxiteles's Hermes from Olympia - one replica of the Lycian Apollo even passed as a copy of the Hermes for a time. The comparison essentially rests on the Apollino, whose head has proportions similar to those of the Aphrodite of Cnidus and whose pronounced sfumato confirms the long-held idea that it is Praxitelean in style, in spite of the many differences among the extant examples.
Nevertheless, most exemplars of this type exhibit a pronounced musculature which does not resemble masculine types normally attributed to Praxiteles - it has further been proposed that it is a work of his contemporary Euphranor, or of a 2nd-century BCE work The Apollino, for its part, would thus be an eclectic creation from the Roman era, mixing several styles from the "second classicism" (i.e. from the 4th century BC).The famous pose with the arm resting on the head was so thoroughly identified with Apollo that it was used for the Hadrianic sculpture of Antinous as Apollo at Leptis Magna. With the Hellenistic and Roman depictions of a youthful Dionysus typologically not always distinguishable from Apollo, the pose seems to have been inherited by Dionysus, as in the 2nd century CE Ludovisi Dionysus, a Roman sculpture. The pose is also used in the Amazon statue types, and its long-established conventional expression of lassitude identified Sleeping Ariadne as well.Lysippos
Lysippos (; Greek: Λύσιππος) was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC. Together with Scopas and Praxiteles, he is considered one of the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek era, bringing transition into the Hellenistic period. Problems confront the study of Lysippos because of the difficulty of identifying his style among the copies which survive. Not only did he have a large workshop and a large number of disciples in his immediate circle, but there is understood to have been a market for replicas of his work, supplied from outside his circle, both in his lifetime and later in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The Victorious Youth or Getty bronze, which resurfaced around 1972, has been associated with him.Marathon Boy
The Marathon Boy or Ephebe of Marathon is a Greek bronze sculpture found in the Aegean Sea in the bay of Marathon in 1925.
The sculpture is conserved in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens where it is dated to around 340–330 BC. The Museum suggests that the subject is the winner of an athletic competition. With its soft musculature and exaggerated contrapposto, its style is associated with the school of Praxiteles. The upraised arm and the distribution of weight indicate that in his original context, this ephebe was leaning against a vertical support, such as a column.Megastes praxiteles
Megastes praxiteles is a moth in the family Crambidae. It was described by Druce in 1895. It is found in Mexico (Morelos).Navoi (crater)
Navoi is a crater on Mercury. It contains uncommon reddish material that indicates a different rock composition from its surroundings. Navoi also appears to have an irregularly shaped depression in its center. Such depressions have been seen elsewhere on Mercury, including within Praxiteles crater, and may indicate past volcanic activity.Praxiteles (crater)
Praxiteles is a crater on Mercury.
MESSENGER's high-resolution images obtained during the mission's second Mercury flyby have revealed a number of irregularly shaped depressions on the floor of Praxiteles crater, making it a pit-floor crater. The colors near these depressions in WAC images are similar to those near volcanoes discovered during the mission's first Mercury flyby along the inner edge of the Caloris basin. The similar colors and the association with the irregular depressions (possible volcanic vents) are suggestive of past volcanic activity on the floor of Praxiteles.Praxiteles crater was first observed by Mariner 10.Resting Satyr
The Resting Satyr or Leaning Satyr, also known as the Satyr anapauomenos (in ancient Greek ἀναπαυόμενος, from ἀναπαύω / anapaúô, to rest) is a statue type generally attributed to the ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles. Some 115 examples of the type are known, of which the best known is in the Capitoline Museums.Smila, Greece
Smila (Greek: Σμίλα) is a village in the municipality of Olympia, Elis, Greece. It is situated in the plains north of the river Alfeios, 1 km north of Strefi, 3 km west of Pelopio, 7 km northwest of Olympia and 10 km east of Pyrgos. In 2011 its population was 341 for the village and 390 for the municipal district, which includes the small village Karoutes.
The myth says that the village was called Smila because Praxiteles (the artist who made the famous statue of Hermes), lost his chisel (Greek: σμίλη) here. Many ancient artifacts have been found in this village, especially in the northern part. They are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Olympia. A great cheesemaking tradition has been established in Smila over the past few years, and several well known cheesemakers have been born in Smila, some of whom have found extensive occupation as ship chefs. Smila suffered damage from the 2007 Greek forest fires.Venus of Arles
The Venus of Arles is a 1.94-metre-high (6.4 ft) sculpture of Venus at the Musée du Louvre. It is in Hymettus marble and dates to the end of the 1st century BC.
It may be a copy of the Aphrodite of Thespiae by Praxiteles, ordered by the courtesan Phryne. In the 2nd century AD, Pausanias mentioned the existence at Thespiae in Boeotia (central Greece) of a group made up of Cupid, Phryne and Aphrodite. The Praxitelean style may be detected in the head's resemblance to that of the Cnidian Aphrodite, a work of Praxiteles known through copies. In a tentative attempt to reconstruct his career, the original Aphrodite of Thespiae would be a work from his youth (in the 360s BC), if we choose to believe that this partially draped female (frequently repeated in the Hellenistic era – the Venus de Milo, for example – is a prelude to the fully naked nude that was his c. 350 BC Cnidian Aphrodite.The Venus of Arles was discovered in several pieces at the Roman theatre at Arles. The sculptural program at Arles was executed in Italy, perhaps by Greek artisans. Venus was the divine ancestor of the gens Julia; Arles, which had backed Caesar when Massilia backed Pompey was rewarded in numerous ways. A semi-nude heroic statue of Augustus was the dominating figure in the sculptural program of the Arles theatre.The Venus was found in 1651, by workmen who were digging a well. The head appeared first, at a depth of six feet, which spurred further excavations. Later, after it had been given in 1681 to Louis XIV to decorate the Galerie des Glaces of Versailles, further excavations were made in the area of the theatre's scenae frons, but no further fragments were found. The statue was seized from the royal collection at the Revolution and has been at the Musée du Louvre ever since its inception. A copy is on display in the municipal building in Arles.
In his restoration of the sculpture, the royal sculptor François Girardon, to make the sculpture more definitely a Venus, added some attributes: the apple in the right hand – as won in the Judgement of Paris – and the mirror in the left. The discovery in 1911 of a cast made of the sculpture as it had first been restored only sufficiently to reassemble, before Girardon was commissioned to improve it, demonstrated the extent of Girardon's transformative restorations, which included refinishing the surfaces, slimming the figure in the process. That the result is as much Girardon as Greco-Roman keeps the sculpture in the storerooms of the Louvre. The head, though its broken edges do not directly join with the torso except for one point of contact, belongs with the body – an important point, since it is the only sculpture of this particular model that retains its head, and the head is Praxitelean, comparable to his Aphrodite of Cnidus. The bracelet on her left arm, however, is original, an identifying trait of the goddess as seen on the Cnidian Aphrodite.