So was Your Grandpa as Cool as Mine
I recently discovered that I was the grandson of Praxiteles, one of the greatest Greek sculptors ever to pick up a chisel and hammer. During my grandfather’s time in Ancient Greece artists and sculptors used their work as a way to gain status and wealth within Greek society. I was surprised to learn that my grandfather was a pioneer and trendsetter in his art. He set himself above the rest by making his sculptures look as if they were almost human like. He is probably best known for being the first to sculpt a woman fully nude. My grandfather was sometimes known as the sculptor of grace. His works are some the most copied by the Romans even appearing on great deal of the Roman coins. Because his works were copied so, there has been some debate among the so called experts, as to if he really sculpted some of his more famous pieces (Richter). But nothing has proven just theories for now.
Within this article I will describe a few of his works such as Hermes and the Infant Dionysus, Aphrodite of Cnidus and Apollo Sauroctoris as well as the story or fable behind these great works. He preferred to work with marble but was also known for working with bronze as well. His work range included all ages and sexes, but he seemed to prefer the young gods like Apollo and Aphrodite. He was not interested in portraying the more dignified, older gods like Zeus or Poseidon (Museum of Art and Archaeology).
My grandfather was well known for always trying new techniques to make his art work look as real as possible. I learned that one of the techniques he used was to polish the marble to make the light reflect and contour off of the statue giving it a texture that gave a sensuous look (Museum of Art and Archaeology). His creations were actually trying to create various movements or positions and physical accurate figures. Some of his sculptures were painted by Nicias, a painter that he respected highly; my grandfather has said that some his best work was painted Nicias.
As a student of the Attic school of sculpture, he was most likely taught by Kephisodotos, who may even have been his father. History is still up in the air about that one. Kephisodotos is also believed to have influenced Praxiteles’ work. There is not much written about who influenced his work; but what is known is that he influenced the work of many other artist to follow.
Now, I’m not saying that there was only one woman in my grandfather’s life, but the courtesan Phyrne was said to be his favorite model, and her likeness is said to be one of his inspirations. Like most women, I would bet she had some influence on his work as well. The possibility of a romance may have existed between the two, but nothing has been proven.
The statue Hermes and Infant Dionysus, is one of my grandfather’s most remembered works. The statue has been dated about 343 BC and was made from Parian marble. It was dedicated to the sacred Altis from Eleians and the Arcadians to...