Archaic Greek Sculpture
Greek Sculpture: Archaic Period (c.600-480 BCE)
For sculpture it is more convenient to
restrict' Archaic' to the style that succeeded Daedalic
towards the end of the seventh century and lasted till the beginning of
the fifth (c.600-500 BCE), when it gave way to the early
classical period. This Archaic style is distinguished from Daedalic
by its interest in depth and a more solid and credible anatomy, and the
change seems to have been rapid, if not sudden.
The Daedalic style, wherever its centres were, had been remarkably uniform. In the Archaic style there are two principal divisions, European and Asiatic (or East) Greek, sharing types and anatomical innovations, but the European being more concerned with the structure of the figure and the Asiatic with its surface. Within these divisions there were some local schools, but how much they differed is still guesswork. One may assume that except at the sanctuaries of Delphi, Olympia and Delos, which attracted Greeks from a wide area and had no nearby city of any size, most of the sculpture found in the territory of any state was made the sculptors who lived there, and so one should be able to distinguish in the finds a fairly homogeneous group and an exotic miscellany, made by travelling masters of other states or (less probably) imported ready made.
Unfortunately only two artistically important areas, Attica and Samos, have produced considerable series of sculpture and they belong one to the European and the other to the East Greek region. Elsewhere there are enough kouroi from the Ptoion sanctuary near Thebes and reliefs from Sparta and its neighbourhood to show that the local sculptors of Boeotia and Laconia were as provincial as the vase painters. But from the territories of Corinth, Sicyon, Aegina, Argas, Naxos and Paras - all, according to later records or surviving signatures, the homes of notable Archaic sculptors - we have only isolated works, so that for instance we do not know if the heavy forms of Cleobis are characteristic of the Argolid or what, if anything, is peculiarly Aeginetan about the figures of the Aegina pediment. More serious is our ignorance about Paros, which now supplied from its quarries the marble most preferred by the Greeks and was, at least geographically, halfway between the mainlands of European and Asiatic Greece. As it is, the reconstructed history of Archaic sculpture has a heavy bias towards Athens.
The two principal Archaic types of statue were still the kouros (the standing naked male), and the kore (the standing draped female). From European Greece we have also a few seated figures, men on horseback, and - especially from earlier grave monuments - sphinxes squatting on their hind legs. In the East Greek region, where sculptors had different ideals, the draped male was fairly common, usually seated but sometimes standing or even reclining. Other types were very rare. Till the transition at the end of the Archaic style, poses of statues remained frontal and symmetrical, and such exceptions as occurred were not significant. Some of the later korai have a very slight turn of the head or tilt of the shoulders and, since the standard of workmanship was meticulous, these deviations may have been deliberate attempts to give a little surreptitious variety to the stock formula. Other, more obvious exceptions can be explained by the requirement of a fully frontal view of the human face. With sphinxes, if the body was presented in side view, it was only reasonable to turn the head a full right angle; and when in an equestrian statue the head of the horse would have blocked the view of the rider's head for the spectator standing directly in front, it was a logical compromise to turn the rider's head a little to one side. Reliefs and pedimental sculpture with their necessarily greater variety of poses had comparable rules, which will be discussed later.
On the colouring of Archaic sculpture, so it happens, we are fairly knowledgeable, since because of the Persian invasion of 480 many works, recently painted or well maintained, were damaged and buried (or buried to escape damage) and sometimes, as on the Acropolis of Athens, conditions below ground proved kind. For marble the practice was at first to paint all the surface except the flesh; later, from the third quarter of the sixth century on, large areas of drapery were often left unpainted except for bands of pattern along borders and down the middle of skirts and a scattering of small ornaments elsewhere. What the rule was for men's flesh we do not know, but sometimes it was tinted a lightish brown. The principal colours were red, blue and yellow, others were black, green and brown. The choice of colours may have been limited by the pigments available, but its aim was largely decorative without close attention to natural shades. On limestone figures the surface was of poorer quality than marble and so usually it was painted all over. Archaic bronze sculptures, which are extremely rare, show no special peculiarities.
Types of Sculpture
It was on the kouros that Archaic sculptors made their most enduring progress, since the Archaic kouros was naked - more naked even than the Daedalic which wore a belt - and so the problems of anatomy could not be ignored. Since more than a hundred kouros statues survive, complete or in sizeable fragments, we can follow in detail the trend towards more natural proportions and articulation.
Generally foreheads became higher and skulls more rounded, eyes smaller, shoulders narrower and waists thicker; the structure of face, ears, neck, chest, belly, hips and knees was represented with closer understanding and less emphasis of selected features; and modelling more and more superceded incision of detail. Evidently the sculptors observed human bodies, but their observations were combined and resolved in a sort of generalized theoretical system which did not regard the peculiarities of any particular model: in other words Archaic sculpture was 'ideal'.
By the end of the sixth century the anatomy
of the kouros had become natural enough for its pose to appear unnatural,
and it was time to abandon stiffly symmetrical frontality. As for size,
some of the early Archaic kouroi are much larger than life; afterwards
rather under-sized statues became common, but gradually a standard emerged
of a figure a little over six feet tall, impressive but not superhuman.
The statue usually called 'Kleobis' is a convenient example of the early Archaic style of around 600 BCE. It is the better preserved of a pair of kouroi found at Delphi and identified by the inscription on their plinths and a passage of Herodotus as representations of Kleobis and Biton, though it is not certain which statue is of which. The story is that at a festival of Hera, when their mother (who was a priestess) was held up for lack of oxen, Kleobis and Biton pulled her cart the five miles to the sanctuary, that as a reward the deity let them die that night in their sleep, and that in commemoration the Argives put up statues of them at Delphi. The statues, of a marble that is said to be Cycladic, are over seven feet high and as like as can be expected from free-hand carving.
Traces of Daedalic can be observed in the lowness of the forehead and the lingering triangularity of the front view of the face; but there is a new emphasis on solidity and depth, the body appears as an integral and interesting part of the whole figure and no longer primarily a support for the head, and the anatomy though still very inexperienced has been considered. The cheek-bones are managed with rather better logic than before. Attention has been given to the ear, throat and collar-bones; the hair (always difficult to render by carving) is divided into knobbly strands that now look more like locks than a wig; the pectoral muscles and the knees are modelled heavily; the muscles down the side of the thighs are outlined by grooves; but the upper boundary of the belly is only incised, and the waist still makes a simple concave curve which ignores the hips. Though these two kouroi are not in any sense portraits, some concession is made to their subject; as hauliers, Kleobis and Biton wear boots, close-fitting but originally made distinct by colour, and perhaps it was to show the strength for which they became famous that the figures are so massively proportioned, not because such proportions were typical of an Argive school of sculpture. For the sculptor was an Argive, so the inscription says, with a name ending in 'medes', often restored as 'Polymedes' though there are other possibilities. Incidentally, Cleobis and Biton are among the dozen or so original Greek statues now surviving which are mentioned in what we have of Greek and Latin literature.
The New York Kouros (c.600 BCE), of Cycladic marble and six feet high, is the most complete of a group of early kouroi found in Attica and so close to each other in style that they must have been made by one sculptor or workshop. The face of the New York figure with its oval contour and high rounded forehead and skull is the antithesis of Daedalic, perhaps deliberately so, and the eyes are very much the dominant feature, as can be seen on the illustration if one lays a pencil across them. The nose regrettably is broken off, but must have been narrow and prominent. There is more indication here than on Cleobis of anatomical features of the body - by modelling and grooving - and an awareness, if nothing more, of the existence of the hips. A few traces of red paint survive in the nostrils, on the nipples and on the bands tying the tips of the hair at the back. If one compares the New York statue with Cleobis, it is remarkable what difference in effect could be produced by contemporary sculptors within the strict formula of the kouros type. The length of the arms is particularly illuminating - short in the compactly balanced Cleobis, reaching further down the thighs in the New York statue to compensate for top-heaviness - if one blacks out the figure below the chest a quite different substructure might be expected. The date of the New York kouros should be much the same as that of Cleobis, around 600 BCE, since in some details it is more advanced even though its general effect is more primitive. The reason is probably that the sculptor of the New York kouros was unorthodox. He has no obvious ancestry and may well have been the first sculptor to establish himself in Attica; anyhow although so much Archaic sculpture has been found in Attica, there is so far nothing earlier than his work. It is curious that the New York statue, the first kouros for which close correspondence with Egyptian art has been claimed - in the level of knees, navel, nipples, eyes and perhaps hands - in style does not look particularly Egyptian.
The 'Apollo of Tenea', found at
Tenea near Corinth and not an image of Apollo but a grave monument, is
also of Cycladic marble, five feet high and in unusually fine condition.
Its date is about 560 BCE, a good generation later than Cleobis and the
New York kouros. The human figure is now much more naturally proportioned,
though still too broad in the shoulders and too narrow in the waist, and
the features of the anatomy are modelled organically and without exaggeration,
in strong contrast to the New York kouros where they appear as superficial
and almost decorative adjuncts. In the Apollo of Tenea the head, at least
in front view, is hardly more interesting than the body; the hair has
been simplified, the eyes - reduced in size - are recessed at the inner
corner, and the lips curved cheerfully up in the 'Archaic smile'; but
the modelling of the belly shows much more subtlety and if the figure
is decapitated it suffers surprisingly little. In construction the front
and side views are still cardinal, though the transitions are managed
better than in earlier works and altogether this is a rendering of a man
which appears capable of flexibly human motion. Admittedly the Apollo
of Tenea is outstanding in quality for its time, but it is a pity that
there is not more Archaic sculpture from the Corinthia.
The kouros of Aristodikos is another grave monument, found east of Mount Hyrnettus where Athenian nobles had estates. The title 'of Aristodikos' is carved on the upper step of the base, with the letters picked out in red paint. Presumably, like some other Archaic statues from Attica, it was buried at the time of the Persian invasion but unluckily on its back, so that its face has been scarred by modern ploughing. The Aristodikos kouros is nearly six and a half feet high, of Parian marble and dates from about 500 BCE. By now the structure of the body is broadly understood, even at the waist, and similarly the face has a unified form without special emphasis of any single feature. Even the hair of the head is not allowed to distract attention from the anatomy. Short and close-fitting, it has two rows of simple conventional curls round the edge, while the remaining part is finished roughly with a point - an unusual alternative to the fine waving current at the time unless it was intended as a bedding for stucco.
The most noticeably ornamental detail of this sober figure is the pubic hair, shaped according to a convention fashionable at the end of the sixth century and the beginning of the fifth. In general the kouros of Aristodikos has reached the limits of the Archaic style; for a figure so naturally constructed, the pose has come to look uncomfortably stiff. Perhaps the sculptor felt this too and for variety bent the arms forward at the elbows, although it required the unsightly use of struts. Anyhow, though the composition is still based on the four regular elevations, there is more liveliness in an intermediate view.
The four kouroi that have been discussed
all come from European Greece and except for the New York statue are typical
for the general style of that region. The schools of the Cyclades seem
to have been fairly close, though some pieces show a rather softer treatment.
Further away softness was dominant in East Greek workshops, which concentrated
on plump, superficial forms and even took pleasure in the creases of a
well-rounded belly. Still, both the European and the East Greek ideals
may be considered aristocratic, one representing the gentleman with the
time to indulge in athletics and the other the man of property who could
afford to eat.
The Archaic kore developed in a very different way from the kouros. Since it had to be fully clothed, sculptors did not feel so much incentive to explore female anatomy and, until a more robust style came in soon after 500 BCE, their aims were increasingly decorative. This shows in the treatment of the hair and even of the features of the face as well as in the drapery, for which a new formula was devised around the middle of the sixth century. Greek dress, though basically simple, needs some consideration. The two principal garments, both for men and women, were the heavy sleeveless 'peplos' and the light sleeved 'chiton' (to use these names as archaeologists have chosen to define them) and both are said to have consisted of rectangular unshaped pieces of material, which were pinned or buttoned or sewn up as required and were gathered at the waist by a girdle. So the Auxerre Goddess wears a simple peplas with a separate cape over the shoulders; the heroines of the east pediment at Olympia wear a peplos with overfall (that is the upper part of the rectangle has been folded over double as far down as the waist); and the Acropolis kore wears a chiton and above it a sort of cloak (or 'himation'), draped diagonally over one shoulder. Yet the chiton of this kore is carved as if the upper and lower parts were two separate garments, and even on the Auxerre Goddess the patterning of the peplos - with scales on the chest but not on the back and the strip of meander down the front of the skirt - seems improbable on a single piece of material, if one thinks of it opened out. It may well be that Greek clothes were sometimes more sophisticated than is supposed, but artists have often ignored the logic of drapery.
The 'Berlin Standing Goddess' is said to have been found in the countryside of Attica, wrapped in lead sheeting and buried, presumably in 480 BCE to escape destruction by the Persians. It is of local marble, six feet high and dated about 575 BCE. Of the original colouring the red is fairly and the yellow less well preserved, and there are a few traces of blue. The flesh was not painted, the hair was yellow, the chiton was red, but we do not know the colour of the shawl. Of decorative details the flowers on the polos (or cap) were red; the meander at the neck of the ehiton was picked out in red, yellow, blue and white, and that down the front of the skirt in red, yellow and blue; and the sandals had red straps and yellow soles.
As for the carving, the head shows no trace of the Daedalic scheme and the hair is done with a simplicity that both conforms reasonably to nature and does not distract attention from the face with its emphatic eyes, nose, cheeks and mouth, fixed like that of the Apollo of Tenea in the 'Archaic smile'. This smile may, as some art historians claim, come from deeper cutting at the corners of the lips, though that does not explain their upward curve; but whatever its cause, it soon became a mannerism, even - in reliefs and pediments - for figures whose situation leaves nothing to smile at. The pose is of course symmetrical, though for variety both arms are brought across the body. The drapery too has advanced beyond Daedalic flatness and is carved in broad shallow folds, which fall vertically except on the back of the shawl where they make a set of simple loops hanging from one shoulder to the other as far down as the waist. Whom the figure represents is uncertain. The Berlin statue is a solidly effective female figure, though there is nothing specifically feminine about the face nor the body either, so far as it can be made out under the enveloping dress.
About this time some workshops further east were experimenting with a different version of the kore. The form of some of these statues is so much more cylindrical, that one may suspect the influence of ivory figurines, whether Syrian or their Greek successors, which in shape tended to keep to that of the tusk they were carved from.
The dress here, is the chiton, soon regularly
supplemented by a cloak worn on one shoulder and crossing the chest, and
each garment is decorated with close shallow folds that follow its lie.
Only one statue of this kind still keeps its head, and that has a solid
fullness which might be derived from such earlier works as the New York
kouros. Often one hand is laid on the breasts, holding some small offering
and the other hangs down by the side of the thigh. But soon, perhaps about
560 BCE, this hand is employed to clutch the side of the skirt, so deflecting
its folds; and the next step, no later than 550 BCE is to exploit the
consequences of the clutch by arranging the skirt in radiating folds across
the front and skin-tight across the buttocks and the back of the legs,
while for further contrast the folds of the cloak are stepped and cut
more deeply. The face and hair too become prettified, and usually one
foot is slightly advanced, whether to enliven the pose or to improve the
mechanical stability of the statue. This kind of kore is generally thought
to be an Ionian or East Greek invention, but the most elaborate specimens
seem to be Cycladic, while those found so far in Ionia are rather plain,
and - for what it is worth - the earliest fully 'Ionic' korai have been
found in European Greece. Still, wherever the new kore was invented or
developed, it spread quickly throughout the Greek world.
The statue no. 682. of the Acropolis
of Athens is one of the riper korai, not later than about 525 BCE.
It is almost six feet high, of Cycladic marble and - unusually - made
in two main parts, the join being at the knees. The right forearm too,
which stretched straight forward, was - as usually - a separate piece,
the stump of which is still fixed in its socket. The end of the cloak
that hangs down at the front was also carved separately, and on the chest
one can see the drill holes where extra lengths of hair were pegged on.
The hair was red, the eyebrows black, the diadem decorated with red and
blue palmettes. The upper part of the chiton was perhaps yellow or blue,
the rest of the drapery un-painted except for bands of pattern along borders
and down the front of the skirt and a scattering of neat little ornaments
elsewhere; this decoration was mainly in red and blue with probably touches
of green and yellow. There was also a necklace, painted but not carved;
the bracelet was coloured blue; and the sandals were red with blue details.
To complete the original effect, the metal rod on the top of the head
should be straightened and capped with a little bronze umbrella (the 'meniskos'),
a common protection against birds when statues stood in the open. Compared
with contemporary kouroi, the head of Acropolis 682 is interesting. Obviously
it was meant to be fashionably feminine with its high domed skull, slanting
eyes (once filled with paste), half-shut overhanging lids and prominent
cheek-bones; but apart from the implausible breasts there is not much
attention to the characteristic forms of the female body and, though the
sculptor gave himself opportunity enough in the lower part of his figure,
it seems that he used the kouros as his model. This revealing of the shapes
of buttocks and legs was a sculptural vagary, not found so early in vase
painting; and the trick of making tightly stretched material follow the
inside curves of the legs is sculptural too, not a substitute for the
transparency that is possible in painting, since painters of that time
avoided the back and even the front view. The style of such korai as this
is clever and even brilliant, but it led no further, and within a generation
sculptors were turning towards a more austere but more promising standard
for their female figures.
sculpture falls into three classes according to the shape of the field.
Many sixth-century gravestones were tall narrow slabs, carved (or merely
painted) with a single figure, standing and in profile. This kind of grave
monument is best known in Attica, where it might be surmounted by a small
compact statue of a sitting sphinx or later by a palmette. The change
came soon after the middle of the century when, as anatomical skill and
taste improved, monsters and animals (other than the horse) became subjects
unworthy of the serious sculptor. Incidentally, both the sphinx and the
lion (also found on early grave monuments) could be used as dedications
in sanctuaries and so were hardly symbols of death. The Greeks may have
had some notion of their being a sort of watchdog, but as vase paintings
show, such creatures would not have been tolerated in art unless they
had been thought decorative. The second class of reliefs, more or less
square, includes the carved metope tablets of Doric temples and treasuries
as well as some grave reliefs. Here, to fill the space, a group of two
or three figures is usual; and if there is only one figure, it is posed
to spread sideways, like the single figures of vase painting inside Archaic
cups. Lastly, there are long reliefs - for the friezes of Ionic architecture
or the bases of statues. In such fields scenes of action are almost inevitable.
The earliest pedimental stone sculpture that survives is of about 580 BCE and comes from the Temple of Artemis at Corcyra or, to use the familiar Venetian name, Corfu. The material was lime-stone, the field about 55 feet long by 8.5 high at the centre, and the design of both pediments unusually alike. In the west pediment, which is much the better preserved, the central group is composed of the Gorgon Medusa with her two children, the winged horse Pegasus and the human Chrysaor. On each side lies a 'panther' (or rather, since it has spots, a leopard); at the far right Zeus, recognizable by his thunderbolt, is killing a Giant beside a tree, and in the left corner there is another corpse, then a wall in end view, and a seated figure threatened by another figure with a spear - either an incident from the Sack of Tray or another excerpt from the battle of the Gods and the Giants. Some students invest the panthers with vague supernatural functions, but it is more credible that they are primarily decorative, chosen because they fitted conveniently into the field and could be carved quickly - a desirable economy in so big a job; nor is Medusa necessarily 'apotropaic'. The design of this pediment is impressive, except perhaps at the ends, but there is no unity of scale or subject. So Zeus, though the greatest of the gods, is a midget in comparison with Medusa, who was only a minor personage in mythology and not even immortal. There is also the unsatisfactory consequence that the large figures appear in relatively low relief, while the artistically subordinate groups in the corners stand out almost in the round, and the contrast must originally have been still more disturbing when the sculptures were exposed to direct sunlight. It looks as if the sculptor must have been one of the pioneers of pedimental composition.
The 'Bluebeard pediment' has been put together from fragments found on and near the Acropolis of Athens, though some still doubt whether the centre and the two sides belong to each other. It too is of limestone, of about the same size as the Corfu pediment and, to judge by the human heads, only a few years later. Here the centre is filled by two lions mauling a bull, a theme used decoratively in vase painting too. On the left, Heracles is struggling with Triton, and on the right there is a three-bodied monster and space for another figure, now missing but possibly a running man. The colours are strikingly preserved - red for flesh and red and blue for other parts. In composition this pediment is less ambitious and more successful than that of Corfu; the heads are posed to give various views - an indication that this kind of sculpture was now making its own rules - and the figures agree tolerably well in size, but the filling of the corners with fish and snake tails is rather facile. The scheme is repeated in skeleton in the other pediment from the same temple, if it has been restored rightly with two crouching lions, each flanked by a big snake. Again there is a discrepancy, though less emphatic than at Corfu, between the central and the side groups, one in relief and the others carved partly in the round.
Some other sets of pedimental sculptures,
contemporary with the Bluebeard pediment or not much later, were also
found on the Athenian Acropolis. These too are of limestone, but from
lesser buildings (like treasuries) and perhaps because of their small
size more experimental, though experiment consists partly of forcing into
a triangular frame a composition designed for a rectangular field. The
technique varies from low relief to figures in the round and they offer
unified subjects from mythology. The east pediment of the Siphnian
Treasury at Delphi, which measured 19 by 2.5 feet, is hardly more
advanced, although it is of marble and as late as 525 BCE. Its subject
is the brawl between Heracles and Apollo over the Delphic tripod with
a fully dressed Zeus intervening. On either side there are bystanders
and the sculptor has not made much effort to vary their poses, so that
the composition is monotonous and the figures are fitted into the field
by the unhappy expedient of reducing their height away from the centre.
A stranger piece of clumsiness is the wall that reaches halfway up the
pediment and involves the carving of the lower parts of some figures in
relief, while their upper parts stand free. Very obviously the man who
made this pediment was not the creator of the east frieze.
The Gigantomachy pediment, also
of about 525 BCE, is the first big marble pediment we know of. It belonged
to a temple of the Acropolis of Athens and its field is estimated at about
65 by 8 feet. What remains, suggests that Zeus and Athena were placed
back to back in the centre, striking at opponents, and there are also
three Giants either collapsing or crawling on the ground. The original
total of figures was probably only ten, but though the composition was
loose it provided a satisfactory solution to the main problem of pedimental
art; a battle, with fallen and crouching combatants, allows a logical
and integrated filling of the field with figures of the same scale. See
also the gigantomachy in the Parthenon metopes.
The Temple of Aphaia on Aegina was built near the end of the Archaic period and we have much of its two sets of marble pedimental sculpture and, puzzlingly, fragments of extra figures and an acroterion in the style of the west pediment. These seem to have been intended for the east pediment, but could have been discarded before being put in place. The west pediment, about 43 feet wide and 6 feet high, has at the centre Athena standing apart, a head taller than mortals, and on each side of her, six soldiers stabbing and shooting it out towards the corner. The poses are varied thoughtfully and the composition is held firmly together by a system of oblique lines. In the east pediment, Athena is again in the centre, though less stationary, and on each side there is a group of four figures engaged in battle while a fifth twists dying in the corner. The soldiers falling backwards, one on each side, are an experiment that did not succeed. For figures fully in the round (as pedimental sculptures now regularly were) Greek sculpture never brought itself to approve of such apparent defiance of gravity. The style of the east pediment looks a little more advanced than that of the other, but it still makes no attempt to represent torsion in the body and, if the theory of later replacement can be discounted, the two sets may as well be contemporary works of about 510 to 500 BCE, one by a conservative and the other by a modern master. The Aegina pediments are so crisply carved that some students think that they were inspired by bronze work and so assuredly composed that they give the impression almost of academic exercises in the filling of a tapering field.
Though the sculpture of the pediments was
the most imposing decoration of the outside of a temple, the Greeks felt
no need for its subject to be particularly connected with the god or goddess
to whom the temple belonged. The Corfu pediments have nothing to do with
Artemis, nor the Bluebeard pediment and its counterpart with Athena, though
the subject of the Siphnian Treasury is appropriate to Delphi and in the
Gigantomachy pediment Athena has a leading part. As for the Aegina pediments,
Aphaia to whom the temple was dedicated is for us a shadowy deity connected
with Artemis, but the goddess dominating each set of sculptures is unmistakably
Athena. So it seems that the sculptures of pediments, like those of metope
tablets and friezes, were intended more to delight than to glorify the
For information about architectural styles and designs in Ancient Greece, see: Greek Architecture.
The Greeks of South Italy and Sicily naturally accepted the Archaic style of sculpture, in the main following the lead of European Greece though often belatedly. This backwardness was certainly not due to poverty or inertia, and the chief reason may have been remoteness from supplies of marble, so that the local workshops had to make do much longer with the inferior medium of limestone. One curious idiosyncrasy is a liking for carving on the metopes but not in the pediments of Daric temples, the contrary of the fashion of contemporary Greece. In Etruria, the ingredients of the local Archaic sculpture were more varied and there were more vagaries in their use, so that it is hard to define a general Etruscan art style. Here the local stone, a soft tufa, did not allow any delicacy of carving and the best work was done in terracotta, even for architectural statuary. Whether because of difficulty in attracting Greek artists or some peculiarity of native taste, much Etruscan sculpture remained basically Archaic till near the end of the fifth century. In the opposite direction, Cyprus borrowed some features of Greek Archaic for its hybrid limestone statues, with characteristically unhappy results. Cyprus was partly a Greek country, but in the later sixth century Greek art was making an impression on the non-Greek civilizations of the East. Along the Syrian and Phoenician coast local figurines began to borrow from the Archaic style, and the court sculptural art of the Persian empire (which had annexed Ionia and the rest of western Anatolia in 547 BCE) included some Greek features in its formula.
In Greece itself few Archaic details survived
the transition to Classical in the early fifth century. The most notable
example is the Hair of Herms - those rectangular blocks of stone with
a head on top and a phallus in front which, anyhow in Athens, became familiar
objects of private piety. There are also the cult statues which occur
in some Classical vase paintings and reliefs and are often represented
in a stiff Archaic manner, less perhaps to give them an air of age and
venerability than because otherwise they could not be distinguished easily
from animate figures. In time, though, some sculptors became mildly interested
in the Archaic style, and from the later fifth century on, there are occasional
reminiscences or adaptations in the treatment of hair or of drapery. Later,
during the Hellenistic
period of greek sculpture and much more so towards its end, small
Archaistic schools developed, producing mainly reliefs for eclectic customers.
In most Archaistic works the poses were stiff enough and the hair was
fairly true to the Archaic formulas, but usually the drapery was distorted
to give exaggerated swallowtail folds and the faces were modernized -
deliberately, since plenty of Archaic sculpture was around to study and,
when required, good copies or forgeries could be turned out. During the
Roman period there was from time to time a limited vogue for the Archaic
style, but generally antiquarian taste went back no further than the High
of Ancient Greece (Introduction)
For the origins and evolution of
three-dimensional art, see: Sculpture
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART and CLASSICAL ANTIQUITIES