The Diadumenos and the Doryphoros: paradigms of the canon
The Diadumenos, together with the Doryphoros, are the most celebrated sculptures by Polyclitus. Both are conceived as idealised young men who illustrate the principles set out in the Canon. Among these principles one of the most important states that the total height of the figure should be seven times the height of the head.
The structure of the head reveals that this is a late work by the artist. While in the case of the Doryphoros, created thirty years earlier, the flat curls create a rigorously constructed system, the fuller, more dynamic curls of the Diadumenos result in a richness of motifs that can only be understood as a reflection of Attic works of the “beautiful style” influenced by Phidias and his school. Of the seventeen replicas that exist of the head, the ones in Madrid, Dresden, Kassel and Adolphseck are particularly exquisite copies.