Lysippos (//; Greek: Λύσιππος) was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC. Together with Scopas and Praxiteles, he is considered one of the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek era, bringing transition into the Hellenistic period. Problems confront the study of Lysippos because of the difficulty of identifying his style amongst the copies which survive. Not only did he have a large workshop and a large number of disciples in his immediate circle, but also there is understood to have been a market for replicas of his work which was supplied also from outside his circle already in his own lifetime and also later in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Career and legacy
Lysippos was successor in contemporary repute to the famous sculptor Polykleitos. Among the works attributed to him are the so-called Horses of Saint Mark, Eros Stringing the Bow (of which various copies exist, the best in the British Museum), Agias (known through the marble copy found and preserved in Delphi), the similar Oil Pourer (Dresden and Munich), the Farnese Hercules (which was originally placed in the Baths of Caracalla, although the surviving marble copy lies in the Naples National Archaeological Museum) and Apoxyomenos (or The Scraper, known from a Roman marble copy in the Vatican Museums). Lysippos was also famous for his bronze sculptures of Zeus and Herakles. The only remaining version of one such statue is a Roman copy of The Weary Herakles (Farnese Hercules), by Glykon.
Born at Sicyon around 390 BC Lysippos was a worker in bronze in his youth. He taught himself the art of sculpture, later becoming head of the school of Argos and Sicyon. According to Pliny, he produced more than 1,500 works, all of them in bronze. Commentators noted his grace and elegance, and the symmetria or coherent balance of his figures, which were leaner than the ideal represented by Polykleitos and with proportionately smaller heads, giving them the impression of greater height. He was famous for his attention to the details of eyelids and toenails.
His pupil, Chares of Lindos, constructed the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. As this statue does not exist today, debate continues as to whether its sections were cast in bronze or hammered of sheet bronze.
Lysippos and Alexander
During his lifetime, Lysippos was personal sculptor to Alexander the Great; indeed, he was the only artist whom the conqueror saw fit to represent him. A recently discovered epigram of Macedonian Poseidippus, in the anthology represented in the Milan Papyrus, takes as its inspiration a bronze portrait of Alexander:
- Lysippos, Sicyonian sculptor, daring hand, learned artisan,
- your bronze statue has the look of fire in its eyes,
- that one you made in the form of Alexander. The Persians deserve
- no blame. We forgive cattle for fleeing a lion.
Lysippos has been credited with the stock representation of an inspired, godlike Alexander with tousled hair and lips parted, looking upward. One fine example, an early Imperial Roman copy found at Tivoli, is conserved at the Louvre.
Discovery of possible original statue of Alexander
On 26 February 2010, Greek authorities arrested two men found in illegal possession of various antiquities, including a bronze statue of Alexander, which is possibly a work of Lysippos. If confirmed, this would make it the first original work of Lysippos ever discovered. The statue is currently being examined at the laboratory of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, which is expected to confirm or deny its authenticity.
The Getty Bronze
In 1972 the Getty Bronze was discovered and at the urging of Paul Getty, bought by the Getty Museum where it got its name, the Getty Bronze. The Bronze was pulled out of the sea and restored. Because of the amount of corrosion and the thick layer of incrustation that coated the statue when it was found, we can assume that it was beneath the water for centuries. This is less than surprising, many of the most preserved statues archeologists have found have been fished out of the Mediterranean Sea. It was not uncommon for a shipwreck to occur with something as precious as a sculpture on board. Without any way to find or retrieve them, these pieces were left to sit at the bottom of the ocean for centuries. Fortunately, the damaging corrosion can be removed by cleaning the surfaces mechanically with a scalpel.
The Getty Bronze is believed to be Lysippos's work because the detail on it is consistent with his style of work and his cannon or proportions. Lysippos's work can often be categorized by his naturalism and slender proportions that had lifelike realism. His work often portrays exaggerated features and lengthened proportions to accurately capture the human form correctly at a larger than life scale. It showcases Lysippos's personal cannon of proportions. Lysippos's work had a smaller head than his mentor Polykleitos because he used one to eight scale of the head vs the total height of the piece.
- Latinized Lysippus (//) is less used today, even in English.
- His son Euthyktates worked in his style, according to Pliny, and, in the next generation, Tysikrates produced sculpture scarcely to be distinguished from his. (Natural History xxxiv. 61-67).
- The rediscovered Agias, dedicated by Daochos at Delphi, was a contemporary marble copy of a bronze. The original was at Farsala in Thessaly.
- Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History: Ancient Art. Prentice Hall, 2011.
- The Search for Alexander, a 1976 exhibition catalogue, illustrates several examples and traces the development of the type.
- "Αγαλμα του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου βρέθηκε στην κατοχή αρχαιοκαπήλων". In.gr.
- e-go.gr, Pegasus Interactive. "Αγαλμα - έκπληξη στα χέρια των αρχαιοκάπηλων". ethnos.gr.
- Jiří, Frel (1982). The Getty Bronze. California: The J Paul Getty Museum. p. 1. ISBN 0-89236-039-9.
- Jiří, Frel (1982). The Getty Bronze. California: The J Paul Getty Museum. pp. 7–29. ISBN 0-89236-039-9.
- "Lysippos: Ancient Greek Sculptor, Biography". www.visual-arts-cork.com. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
- "Culturenet.hr - The Croatian Apoxyomenos". Retrieved 2015-11-19.
- A. F. Stewart, "Lysippan Studies" 2. Agias and Oilpourer" American Journal of Archaeology 82.3 (Summer 1978), pp. 301–313.
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- Gardner, P. 1905. ‘The Apoxymenos of Lysippos’, JHS 25:234-59.
- Serwint, N. 1996. ‘Lysippos’, in The Dictionary of Art vol. 19: 852–54.
- Stewart, A.F. 1983. ‘Lysippos and Hellenistic sculpture’, AJA 87:262.
- Vermeule, C.C. 1975. ‘The weary Herakles of Lysippos’, AJA 79:323–32.