of Knidos, by Praxiteles.
and Dionysos, unknown sculptor, but sculpted in the style of Praxiteles.
Late Classical period, which dates from the beginning of the Peloponnesian
War in 430 BCE and ends with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE, the
canon of proportions established in the works of Polycleitus in the High
Classical is remade. The thick, muscular model of the Doryphoros
is thinned out and made more graceful and sinuous, as seen in the work
and style of Praxiteles. In works such as Hermes and Dionysus,
which may not be the actual work of Praxiteles but is certainly indicative
of his style, a change from the symmetry and rational balance of the Doryphoros
to a more sensuous, flowing form. The weight of the figure remains
shifted onto one leg, but here a sinuous curve in the body is more pronounced.
Perhaps related to Praxiteles’ new, fluid model of proportion is his popularization
of the female nude. He was so skilled at conveying this more naturalistic
model that his Aphrodite of Knidos supposedly prompted observers
to say that the goddess of love herself would have exclaimed “Where can
Praxiteles have seen me naked?”
Also, there developed a new relationship between
the sculpted figure and its enclosing space. In the earlier years
of the Classical period, sculptures had been intended for viewing from
only one or two certain angles, usually frontal. During the Late
Classical period, the sculptor began to create figures that interacted
with their environment in all three dimensions: these figures could be
viewed from any angle with equal effectiveness. This dimensional
innovation is generally credited to Lysippos, personal sculptor for Alexander
the Great. His statue Apoxyomenos (a young man scraping mud
and sweat from his body before bathing*) has the properties of the Praxitelean
canon of proportions, but has arms outstretched in the act of scraping,
reaching out to enclose a three-dimensional space. The arm of the
figure extends directly forward, between the statue and the viewer.
In order to truly sculpt a figure that is as the eye would see it, the
artist must make the figure real in three-dimensional space, as the eye
views it from every angle. In the late Classical and future Hellenistic
period, free-standing sculpture will move further away from the strict
frontal pose of the Early and high Classical periods, into a more free
figure in terms of pose and position.
* This was common practice for ancient Greek athletes.