CLASSICAL ART: A Life History from Antiquity to the PresentCAROLINE VOUT Book Number: 91331 Product format: Hardback
In this beautifully illustrated work of impressive contemporary scholarship, Caroline Vout uses the celebrated double sculpture in marble known as "The Tyrannicides" to argue that the term "Classical Art" is a controversial category. Ascribed to Kritios and Nesiotes in the 5th century BCE, this is not the bronze statue erected in the Athenian agora, but a Roman copy, and in fact the "original" bronze was itself a copy of an even earlier version. In the Renaissance one of the figures was given a head belonging to a different figure, and finally a cast of what may have been the original head was restored in the 20th century. So is this sculpture classical, and is it even art? The concept of authenticity makes its appearance with the 4th century Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, which consciously incorporated a mixture of styles at a date when sculptors had begun signing their work. It opened the door for Roman sculptors to define themselves by their eclecticism, sometimes integrating exotic elements such as the Egyptian style of the sculpture of Hadrian's lover Antinous from the second century CE. At the end of the book a bearded larger than life statue of Hadrian himself, located in the UK during the 18th century and more recently in a glass case in the atrium of an American bank, is revealed as a complete pastiche, only the head of which is ancient. Vout demonstrates that Rome's absorption of Greek art dominated the collections of empire-builders such as Napoleon, and in the later 18th century great British country houses such as Holkham, Kedleston, Newby Hall and Wentworth Woodhouse were either purpose built or adapted to incorporate monumental galleries in the Roman style. Only in the 19th century did the spectacular finds from Greek archaeological sites such as Olympia restore the primacy and charisma of Greek sculpture. 359pp, numerous reproductions in black and white and colour.
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