Rome, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 3rd century CE. A finely carved section of a nude male youth, with his weight shifted ever-so-slightly to his right leg and his left leg slightly advanced to the side raising his right hip just a tad. Notice also how the figure's pelvis and thorax tilt in opposite directions, presenting a rhythmic sense of motion that suggests lifelike energy in this figure. Behind his back, resting upon a buttock cheek, is one of the figure's hands with curved fingers that appear to be holding a cloak or similar garment, its drapery folds falling over the youth's other butt cheek. Such calculated poses intended to conjure human vitality in sculpture were inspired by the works of Polykleitos and became the model to which sculptors aspired in Graeco-Roman as well as later Western European art. Size: 8.5" L x 10.75" W x 11.625" H (21.6 cm x 27.3 cm x 29.5 cm); 16.375" H (41.6 cm) on included custom stand.
During the High Classical period (ca. 450 to 400 BCE), Polykleitos developed a canon (kanon) of proportions to create statues that epitomized the ideal human body. He wrote a treatise referred to as the Kanon and envisioned the ideal male nude, also referred to as the Kanon, to exemplify his theories which were grounded in mathematical formulas. He aimed for balance, completeness, and general harmony in his works. Although Polykleitos' original bronze Doryphoros did not survive, through ancient writings we know that his sculpture captured the Greek principles of symmetria (symmetry), isonomia (equilibrium), and rhythmos (rhythm). Polykleitos famously stated, "Perfection comes about little by little through many numbers" (Philo, Mechanicus, quoted in Andrew Stewart, "Polykleitos of Argos," One Hundred Greek Sculptor: Their Careers and Extant Works) - meaning that a statue is comprised of numerous definable parts that relate to one another via a system of mathematical ratios. Sculptors employed Polykleitos' Kanon to achieve such "perfect" statues, and this Kanon was later adhered to the Roman sculptors (such as the artist who created this example) as well as sculptors of the Renaissance and Neo-Classical periods.
Provenance: ex-Texas collection acquired before 1994
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