Here is my museum paper for anyone who wishes to read it:
Two Greek Statuettes
In this essay, I will compare and contrast two Greek statuettes. One, the Limestone Male Statuette from the Archaic period, and the other, a Marble Draped Female Statuette from the Hellenistic period. These artworks show how art developed over time. The male statuette is much less developed. The face is crude and the body is flat and boxy. The female statuette, on the other hand, is graceful and an archetype of female perfection. Both small in size, the Archaic piece is about 10” tall, while the Hellenistic piece is about 1 ½” tall. Though they are from the same general area—
, they are quite different. The artists in both cases are unknown, as is the case in much of ancient artwork. Greece
Both statuettes are attempts at representing the human form. And they both intend to convey a sense of divinity. The male statuette was made as a dedication to Apollo. The female statuette was perhaps a goddess or symbolic of an ideal woman.
I was drawn to these pieces because I like Greek art. The Greeks were really masters of humanism in art. These particular works really exemplify a Greek sense of beauty and authenticity, especially the female statuette. It’s interesting to me also that art progressed as much as it did in this timeframe. It took the Greeks time to really master the artistic styles that they would become famous for.
Both the Hellenistic and the Archaic periods were times of change in
. The Greek culture during the Hellenistic period was exposed to many different cultural and artistic influences (Hemingway), broadening the abilities and styles of the Greeks. This particular statuette was probably a copy of a 3rd century BCE statuette. Wealthy art patrons of the 1st century BCE were eager to fill their homes with magnificent Greek art both to demonstrate their wealth, and to demonstrate their good taste. Greek artistic styles changed dramatically from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic period, as is evident in these two statuettes. The Archaic period in Greece came on the heels of what is sometimes called the Dark Age of Greece (Kleiner). Economic conditions improved, and the Greeks began to trade with other countries. The Greek culture began to come to life again. Greek style began to become more naturalistic during this time. The Limestone Male Statuette was an early Archaic statuette from around 600-550 BCE, and lacks much human vigor, which is representative of the age. Greece
The male and female statuettes express different influences in their compositions. The male statuette is very rigid and blocky, almost like a soldier preparing to do battle. It is reminiscent of the stiff Egyptian statues intended to convey eternal stillness. Its arms are held close to the body and both legs are attached, creating the effect of solidity. With the female statuette, the legs are not even visible under the long flowing robe. Her right hand appears to be on her hip in a very human gesture of the body. Her face is very beautiful leaving no doubt that this was either a goddess of some sort, or an emblem of female perfection.
While both pieces express a new naturalism, the female statuette excels at expressing realism. The composition of the later statuette—the female—indicates a growth in Greek art. It is far more human and realistic than the male. The Hellenistic statuette is not only more human, but more three dimensional. It fully expresses the figure from all sides. The Archaic figure seems to want to express divinity as something that lacks ordinary human qualities, whereas the Hellenistic figure embraces and perfects human qualities. It is much more sophisticated that the Archaic statuette. Rather than removing the human qualities, the female figure brings what is human to a divine level.
The styles of the two are radically different, the male statuette is flat and almost two dimensional. The back is literally flat and hasn’t been developed at all. Perhaps in its time it was placed against a wall. In contrast to that, the female statuette is gracefully developed all the way around, including a bun in the back of her head. The female makes wonderful use of lines with her long flowing robe. The folds of the robe were crafted with great skill. The male holds his right arm over his chest almost as a kind of salute, or expression of reverence, whereas the female statuette is more open—simply standing. She may have been a kind of stock statuette representing many goddesses at different times for different reasons. Although rough and chipped from wear, you can imagine that both these statuettes were at one time perfectly smooth in texture.
In conclusion, both these statuettes are an expression of Greek humanism. The Limestone Male Statuette is a precursor to the more elaborate and realistic Marble Draped Female Statuette. And from the two different eras it is easy to see how Greek art evolved and became more refined over time, owing much of the new expressions to outside influences, and Greek innovation.
Hemingway, Colette, and Sean Hemingway. “Art of the Hellenistic Age and the Hellenistic Tradition.” http://www.metmuseum.org/.
June 12, 2011.
Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. Vol. 1. Western Version. 100. 2008.