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The Marble Sculpture

It's possible that the body of the surviving bust of the Head of a Man might have looked like Doryphoros, since the faces are almost mask-like in their impassive perfection. Polykleitos' treatment of the body is very volumetric, with masses of muscle and flesh rounded off into virtually abstract shapes, and the hair pasted tightly on the roundness of the skull.

Praxiteles's Hermes and the Infant Dionysos is based on Greek myth. In the scene depicted Hermes is holding Dionysos after saving him from the ashes of his mother Semele after she burst into flames at the sight of Zeus (Allan and Maitland 103).

Here again we have the idealized realism of Classical Greek sculpture. The face of the Head of a Man could be grafted onto the image of the god with little loss of effect, since these artists strove to imbue their human subjects with a god-like perfection of beauty. Like Polykleitos, Praxiteles has modelled anatomically correct bodies into smoothly graceful, glorious art.

The strongest evidence with which to attribute the Head of a Man to the Classical era of Greek sculpture is the fact that it does not show any of the increased individuation and naturalism of the Apoxymos attributed to Lysippus, dated more than a century after the heyday of the Classical period in 330 BCE. Here at last is the prototype of the more realistic, individualized, idiosyncratic portraits eventually favored by the Romans.

An athlete is shown scaping oil off his arm with a strigil (Boardman 177). The figure is slimmer, the muscles more realistically delineated, and the face could now be that of a living man, although still beautiful. The hair is more realistic and protruding than in the case of Polykleitos, although admittedly similar to that of the Head of a Man. The pose is more linear, less blocky and totemic.


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The Marble Sculpture. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:40, July 23, 2017, from
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