S1 Top 50 Sculptors a

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Venus of Tan-Tan
Lion Man
Magdalenian Horse
Jade Dragon

Nefertiti, Thutmose
Bronze Buffalo
Bronze figurines

Kleobis and Biton, Polymedes
Discobolus, Myron

Athena Parthenos, Phydias
Doryphoros, Polykleitos
Aphrodite of Knidos…, Praxiteles
Hygeia bust, Scopas
Alexander bust, Lysippos
Colossus of Rhodes, Chares
Terracotta Warriors
Venus de Milo, Praxiteles (?)
Laocoön and his Sons, Hagesandrus, Polydorus and Athenodorus

S1 Sculptors 1 – focuses upon the BCE years – 50,000 to 42 BCE – with eighteen works of sculpture.

Six of the first seven items are unattributed. These are the Venus of Tan-Tan, the Lion Man, the Magdalenian Horse, a Jade Dragon, Thutmose’s Nefertiti bust, a Bronze Buffalo and a Zhou Horse and Chariot Grave. The other is attributed to ancient Egyptian artist Thutmose (not the Pharaoh).

Eleven of the other twelve are each able to be attributed to sculptors, ten are ancient Greek and two from China. [S1-10]

These are Polymedes of Argos, Myron of Eleutherae, Phidias of Athens, Polykleitos of Argos, Praxiteles of Athens, Scopas of Paros (aka Skopas), Lysippos, Chares of Lindos, Alexandros of Antioch and a joint work by Hagesandrus, Polydorus and Athenodorus. Gu Kaizhi and the Terracotta Warriors.

Note that to minimise the entries and the opportunity for confusion, the text and image sources are not shown here – do follow the links to the sculptors or their works and you will find a proper acknowledgement of the sources.

The ‘Tan-Tan Venus‘ was carved from a quartzite block. It was discovered in a river bed outside Tan-Tan Morocco, and is claimed as the earliest-found sculpting of the human form. Others claim it is a naturally occuring object, worn down by time and river into a suggestive shape – but, there are flecks of red paint on objects found at the same place.

The right-hand object, the Berekat Ram Venus, is a modified pebble found on the Golan Heights in Israel. They are combined at the Museum of Human Evolution (Burgos, Spain) as early Venus figurines.

Tan-Tan Venus
(50,000- 20,000 BCE, unattributed)

Lion Man (Löwenmensch)
(40,000-35,000 BP)
A German cave yielded up this Lion Man figurine or Löwenmensch (lion-human), arved from a mammoth tusk. There has been much debate about its gender, but male European cave lions did not have manes.

This Magdalenian horse carving, came from the reindeer herding period. It is on show at the Musée d’Archéologie Nationale, France.

Magdalenian Horse
(15,000 BCE)

Jade Dragon
(4,700-2,920 BCE)

This is the earliest Chinese dragon artefact yet found, it was discovered in Liaoning province. Tagged as the ‘pig dragon’ for its pig or boar-like face and its serpentine body. It is also unusual for its pair of earflaps on its head, eye sockets and nostrils and its jaws featuring upward and downward pointing tusks.
This stucco-coated limestone bust depicts Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of king Akhenaten. It is on show at the Neues Museum Berlin.

It is one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt, making her one of the most famous Egyptian women and an icon of female beauty.

It is credited to Thutmose, not one of the four kings, but the court sculptor to the pharaoh. The bust was found in his workshop.

Nefertiti by Thutmose
(1,345 BCE)

Bronze Buffalo
(1,046-771 BCE)

This Zhou Bronze Buffalo is c26 cm long. Perhaps made to mark the importance of buffalos in agriculture. The Zhou sought to capture the energy of creatures rather than a naturalistic depiction.
Zhou bronze figurines thought to have been looted from Shiushan tomb, Baoji, Shaanxi province. They are Western Zhou water vessels.

Zhou bronze figurines
(c1,000-771 BCE)

Kleobis and Biton
two kouros by
Polymedes of Argos
(580 BCE)

Kleobis and Biton are two Archaic Greek kouros brothers from Argos whose stories date back to about 580 BCE. These were discovered at Delphi and are attributed to Polymedes of Argos.

Herodotus’ Histories (1.31) tells their story. When Solon was asked by Croesus to name the happiest person in the world, he named these two. When their mother, a temple priestess, had difficulty getting to a festival, they yoked themselves to pull her cart. She prayed to Hera to reward them, they slept and never woke, their reward was death!
The Discobolus (or discus thrower) was completed at the start of the Classical period, figuring a youthful athlete throwing discus. The original Greek bronze is lost but there are numerous Roman full-size (and smaller) copies in marble and bronze.

Myron of Eleutherae is usually credited with being the first sculptor to master realism and the rhythmos style (harmony and balance).

The Riace Warriors were found in the sea near Riace Calabria, and area that formed part of Magna Graecia. Some suggest Statue A (the younger man) was created by Myron, and that statue B was by Alkamenes, a student of Phidias.

Discobolus of Myron
(460-450 BCE)

The Riace Warriors
(460-450 BCE)

Athena Parthenos
(447 BCE)

Parthenon Marbles
{447-438 BCE)

Temple of Zeus, Olympia
(470-457 BCE)

Athena Parthenos is a lost massive chryselephantine (gold and ivory) sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena, made by Phidias of Athens and his assistants and housed in the Parthenon in Athens; this statue was designed as its focal point. There are many replicas and works inspired by the statue.

The tyrant Lachares removed the gold sheets in 296 BCE to pay his troops, and the bronze replacements for them were probably gilded.

The controversial Parthenon Marbles are usually attributed to Myron, and, less confidently, it is said that he also worked on the earlier Temple of Zeus.
The Doryphoros or Spear Bearer, was a Greek contrapposto bronze from around 440 BCE, the sculptor was probably Polykleitos.
But this was lost and the Roman period versions became an influential image of ancient art. The image shows a marble version from Pompeii.

He would have held a spear in the left hand. Inelegantly the Roman copies place a tree stump behind one leg to support the weight, something that would not have been required in the bronze original.

Doryphoros or Spear Bearer
(440 BCE)

Aphrodite of Knidos
(4th c BCE)

Capitoline Venus
(3rd-2nd c BCE)

Hermes and
the infant Dionysus
(4th c BCE)

Praxiteles of Athens is credited with being the first sculptor of life-sized nude females.

The Aphrodite of Knidos was commissioned as the cult statue for the Temple of Aphrodite at Knidos. It depicted the goddess Aphrodite as she prepared for the ritual bath that restored her purity.

The Capotiline Venus is a style of Venus termed a ‘Venus Pudica’ (or modest Venus) [the Venus de’ Medici is another].

Praxiteles also produced male nudes. This Hermes and the infant Praxiteles is considered to be the epitome of youthful gods in Greek art. It was found in the ruins of the Temple of Hera, in Olympia, Greece.
Scopas of Paros worked with Praxiteles and sculpted parts of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. He led the building of the new temple of Athena Alea at Tegea, where this bust was found, believed to be of Hygeia, the goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation.

Similar to Lysippus, Scopas is artistically a successor of the Classical Greek sculptor Polykleitos. The faces feature deeply sunken eyes and a slightly opened mouth, regular characteristics in the figures of Scopas.

Hygeia by Scopas
(360 BCE)

Bust of Alexander the Great
(330 BCE)

The Victorious Youth

This Bust of Alexander is a Roman copy of the 330 BCE sculpture by Lysippos. According to Diodorus of Sicily (Greek historian), the Alexander sculptures by Lysippos were faithful to the reality. Lysippos, with Scopas and Praxiteles, are considered the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek era.

The Victorious Youth, was found in the Adriatic sea off Fano Italy, when it was caught by the nets of an Italian fishing trawler.

His right hand reaches to touch the winner’s olive wreath on his head. The powerful head has led viewers to see it as a portrait; the head was cast separately from the lithe body. The eye insets are gone, but the copper nipples remain.

It was initially attibuted to Lysippos, but today’s sources are less equivocal.
The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios, designed by Chares of Lindos and erected in the city of Rhodes.

One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it was constructed to celebrate its successful defense against Demetrius Poliorcetes, who besieged it for a year with a large army and navy.

According to most contemporary descriptions, the Colossus stood approximately 70 cubits, or 33m high – a similar height as the modern Statue of Liberty.

This made it the tallest statue in the ancient world.

Colossus of Rhodes
(280 BCE)

Terracotta army

Terracotta cavalry

Terracotta horses/coach

Suit of armour

Perhaps the greatest ancient building project was a massive tomb for the Qin Emperor, Shi Huang himself, on Li Mount, near modern-day Xi’an. After his death in 210 BCE, he was duly buried there.

Shi Huang sent seventy-thousands workers to build an underground complex at the foot of the Lishan Mountains to serve his tomb. It was designed as an underground city from which the Shi Huang could rule in the afterlife. The complex includes vast chambers and halls, temples, administrative buildings, bronze sculptures, a replica of the imperial armory, and terracotta statues depicting government officials to acrobats. is believed that the emperor used liquid mercury in the tomb to represent rivers and lakes.

A mile away from the underground city, at the eastern gate, Shi Huang had constructed an army of life-size statues, almost eight thousand terracotta warriors and six hundred terracotta horses, chariots, and other artefacts, arranged in battle formations. The individal faces are very different, as are their outfits.

Over eighty sets of ceremonial armour have been found at the site. The six hundred plates are of limestone connected by bronze wire, this would have provided no protection, it is a stone version of the real bronze armour.
The Venus de Milo is one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture.

Initially it was attributed to the sculptor Praxiteles, but based on an inscription that was on its plinth, the statue is now thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch.

The statue is believed to depict Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, although some scholars claim it is the sea-goddess Amphitrite, as she is venerated on Milos.

Venus de Milo
(130-100 BCE)

Laocoön and his Sons
(42 BCE)
Laocoön and his Sons (called Antiphantes and Thymbraeus) was discovered in 1506. The 2m high marble group shows the Trojan priest and his sons being attacked by sea serpents.

It was praised by Pliny the Elder, and a modern comment was that it epitomised human agony.

It is on display in the Museo Pio-Clementino, part of the Vatican Museums. It is attributed as a joint venture by Hagesandrus, Polydorus and Athenodorus.

Note that to minimise the entries and the opportunity for confusion, the text and image sources are not shown here – do follow the links to the sculptors or their works and you will find a proper acknowledgement of the sources.

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