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Among Gods and Men
Catalogue

Among Gods and Men

Among Gods and Men

Madrid 11/4/2008 - 4/12/2009

Curators:
Stephan F. Schröder (Madrid), Moritz Woelk and Kordelia Knoll (Dresden)
Supported by:
Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado
In collaboration with:
Seacex

Multimedia

Exhibition

The classical gods, beauty and felicity

The classical gods, beauty and felicity

The first section includes Roman replicas of some of the most famed creations in classical Greek art, including 5th century BC works by Phidias, Myron and Polyclitus, 4th century works by Praxiteles and finally three Greek originals of this period. The sculptures express the Greek cult of beauty and the remarkable creative powers of these artists. While in the 5th century BC the gods were presented in a solemn, hieratic manner, in the 4th century these depictions are characterised by a high degree of naturalness and grace in the movements and gestures, expressing the felicity and glory of divine beings that lived completely apart from mankind in a blissful and eternal life. At the opposite extreme were mortal men who admired the gods precisely for this reason but who suffered the brevity and sadness of their earthly existence. The exhibition thus includes three tomb reliefs whose images of mourning - in themselves of great beauty – contrast with the happiness of the gods. Only the winning athletes in the major Greek competitions occupied an intermediary position between common man and the gods. These athletes were considered almost divine in the manner of heroes and were venerated with monuments and statues as beautiful as those of the deities. Examples in the present exhibition include some of the Albertinum and the Prado’s most celebrated sculptures.

The powerful gods

The powerful gods

The German archaeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768), who left Dresden to study ancient art in Rome, was the first to recognise the most famous sculptures of Greek art in Roman statues. These reproductions, like almost all the sculptures shown in the first four rooms of this exhibition, were crafted during the Roman period as copies of Greek originals that are now lost. The works displayed here attest to the cult of beauty in Antiquity and the great formal inventiveness of Greek artists.

The powerful gods were portrayed as hieratic, solemn figures in the fifth century BC. One of the greatest artists of the period was the sculptor Phidias (c. 480-420 BC), who was commissioned by the Athenian politician Pericles to design the reliefs, the entire decoration and the monumental cult statues of the Parthenon with a totally new aesthetic. His sensual and opulent style is characterised by a richness of clothing, detail and draughtsmanship in general. His statues are practically devoid of movement and action, unlike the works of Myron (c. 490-440 BC) shown here; however, their faces express benevolence and divine protection. This style is also found in the colossal Demeter of Eleusis displayed at the nearby 'Puerta de Velázquez' entrance (room 78), the model for which was created by a pupil of Phidias.

The Human Condition

The Human Condition

In Greece, beauty—like the other virtues—was considered an attribute of the gods that was only rarely bestowed on mortals. Poets and philosophers attest to the fact that the Greeks generally felt unfortunate about the fleetingness and sadness of their lives compared to the very different life these immortal beings enjoyed. Men could only forget about their situation when they felt close to the gods at religious feasts, in rites such as those of the Dionysian cult or as initiates in the Eleusinian mysteries. The grave steles of the fourth century BC, with their farewell and mourning scenes, are typical monuments with which the citizens of Attica aimed to leave a fitting memory of their families’ existence.

A different fate was reserved for the victors of the Panhellenic Games at Olympia, Delphi and Corinth, who were considered almost divine beings and worshipped with statues as beautiful as those of the gods [6-10], as evidenced by the famous Prado Diadumenos and the Dresden Ephebus. The athletes who won the great Greek competitions were thus granted hero status—a position halfway between men and gods—and were accordingly venerated with what amounted to genuine rituals.

The Blissful Gods

The Blissful Gods
Praxiteles Satyrs. The work on the left belongs to the Museo del Prado collection, the one on the right to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Room 4 of the exhibition.

In the fourth century BC divinities were represented with particularly natural and graceful movements and gestures in order to express the bliss and glory of these divine beings who led a joyous, eternal existence, completely separate from men. The most famous sculptor of the century was Praxiteles (c. 385-325 BC), some of whose works are shown here through replicas. The son of the sculptor Cephisodotus and the father and grandfather of other sculptors, he was a wealthy artist who was greatly sought after for his very beautiful and elegant works, among them the first life-size sculpture of a fully naked Aphrodite. He created marble sculptures that were polychromed by the finest painters of the age and enjoyed particular fame; his bronze sculptures were valued even more highly on account of the costly material employed.

Emotion, sensuality and celebration in Hellenistic-Roman art

Emotion, sensuality and celebration in Hellenistic-Roman art
Silenus (detail). Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.

The Hellenistic period (3rd to 1st centuries BC) saw the production of more complex sculptural groups as well as the application of notably realistic formulas in the treatment of the sculpture’s surface. The result was a new vivacity in the movement, an expressive immediacy and freshness and a sensual glow, all aimed at arousing the viewer’s emotions and sentiments. Many of the sculptures exhibited in this section are originals and some have retained their original polychromy. A favourite theme in art at this time was that of celebrations in honour of Dionysus with dances and sacrifices.

Most of the works, for example, the famous Dresden Maenad, were now produced on a smaller, more intimate scale appropriate for adorning the mansions and gardens of private individuals during the Late Hellenistic and Roman periods or to function as ex-votos. The depiction of the beauty of goddesses and of women was another popular theme during this period. Artists never tired of depicting the naked Aphrodite or richly dressed female figures. The most refined sculptures originated in the rich cities of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly Alexandria. Theatre and poetry flourished in that city and in other artistic centres, resulting in the production of numerous sculptures of the Muses, although we only have a few depictions of actors with individual features such as the figure on a relief from Dresden.

Aphrodite And Female Beauty

Aphrodite And Female Beauty
Head of the Great Goddess of Herculaneun (polychrome reconstruction) Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

The celebration of the beauty of goddesses and women was a favourite theme in Hellenistic art in an age characterised by the great metropolises of the eastern Mediterranean inhabited by a wealthy middle class. After Praxiteles invented the life-size female nude in the fourth century BC with his Aphrodite of Cnidus, the artists were inspired to produce all kinds of thematic and formal variations. Another legacy of this sculptor is the female statues in intricately draped robes, leading to the development of highly elaborate compositions based on the arrangement of folds, thereby creating a typically Hellenistic style that has come to be described as “baroque”. The polychromed sculptures in this section give an idea of the vivid colouring that enlivened the appearance of ancient sculptures.

The Muses and Their Arts

The Muses and Their Arts
Dos musas. Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.

Alexandria (Egypt) and the other capitals of the Hellenistic kingdoms witnessed a flourishing of the arts—such as painting, sculpture, theatre and poetry—and sciences, from philology to astronomy and medicine. Emblematic of the age were the nine muses, who each personified a particular art or science—such as the eight Roman sculptures on display in the Hall of the Muses of the Museo del Prado—and were worshipped with altars at the Library of Alexandria. Dating from the reign of Augustus, who introduced Hellenistic culture in Rome at the end of the first century BC, is an outstanding relief from Dresden with the individualised portrayal of an actor.

Images of Power. Late Imperial Roman portraits

Images of Power. Late Imperial Roman portraits
The Emperor Maxentius. Roman Sculpture. 2nd -4th Century AC. 77 x 33 x 35.5 cm. Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

The display of portraits in public and private spaces was typical in the Roman world from the earliest days of the Republic. These images not only depicted men, as was habitual in almost all cultures, but also women and children. The works selected here, including statues, statuettes, busts and marble and silver reliefs, date from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD. They are divided in the exhibition into one group that includes female portraits - depicted with elaborate hairstyles that indicate the public prestige of women in Roman society - and children, who are represented with great affection. The second group comprises male portraits, of which most are military, expressing masculine virtues such as courage or strength of will.

The exhibition concludes with work from late Antiquity (4th century AD), a period of largely harmonious co-existence between the old Greco-Roman world with its myths and ideas and the Christian one with its new creed, which was legalised by Constantine. Along with hieratic portraits of the Emperors Constantine and Maxentius with their penetrating, almost Byzantine gazes, this section includes four sculptures on pagan themes from the period of the Emperor Theodosius. It also includes what is possibly the most important and beautiful work created during his reign, namely the great silver Missorium * loaned by the Real Academia de Historia in Madrid. This silver relief of Theodosius and his court surrounded by pagan divinities is the most important example of the co-existence of the two worlds.

(*) Known as the Disk of Theodosius, this is the only work in the exhibition not loaned from the Albertinum or the Museo del Prado. This unique object takes the form of a large silver roundel whose presence helps to establish the context of the four sculptures from the period of Theodosius on display in the last room of the exhibition. The missorium was part of the Cabinet of Antiquities of the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid. Over the past 150 years it has only been shown to the public on one occasion, in an exhibition at the Palacio Real, Madrid.

Roman Portraits at the End of the Empire (2nd-4th Century AD)

Roman Portraits at the End of the Empire (2nd-4th Century AD)
The Hunt of Meleager (detail of a sarcophagus). The rider in close-up is a portrait of the owner of the sarcophagus.

The exhibition of portraits in public and private spaces, a very common custom in Rome from the earliest days of the Republic (4th-2nd century BC) this was not limited to male portraits, as was the case in most other cultures, but also extended to those of women and children. With their striking hairstyles, these portraits attest to the prestige and status of women in Roman society, which also gave a certain prominence to boys and girls. They could be located in public areas, as with those of women and children of the imperial household, or in private settings, like the Portrait of a Seated Girl or the statue of a Roman lady portrayed as Venus, which were intended to be displayed at a burial place.

Male portraits of politicians and officials exhibit masculine virtues such as intelligence, austerity and valour; the last of these qualities is exemplified in the boar hunt relief, which portrays the owner of the sarcophagus, with individualised features, as the mythical hunter Meleager. Particularly noteworthy is the large bust of a Greek, probably a physician, shown alongside a small polychromed statue of Asclepius, the god of medicine. Physicians prescribed sleeping in his shrines as a method of healing, providing a link to representations such as Hypnos, the god of sleep, on display in the nearby room 72 of the museum.

Paganism And Christianity

Paganism And Christianity
Emperor Maxentius
(Museo del Prado), on the left,
Emperor Constantine The Great
(Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden), on the right. In the middle,
The Missorium of Theodosius
(Real Academia de la Historia).

The exhibition concludes with works from late Antiquity (fourth century), an age in which the myths and ideas of the old Greco-Roman world existed alongside the new religion of Christianity legalised by Constantine the Great. Shown together with the hieratic portraits of the emperors Constantine [65] and Maxentius—fierce rivals in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in Rome (October 312)—with their penetrating gazes, are four sculptures on pagan themes from the period of the Christian emperor Theodosius I, and the finest and most important work from his reign (379-395), the great Missorium belonging to the Real Academia de Historia in Madrid. This silver relief showing Theodosius and his court surrounded by pagan divinities is the most outstanding example of the coexistence of these two worlds.

Artworks

2

Dresden Zeus

Roman replica. Phidias School
5th Century BC
212 x 104 x 56 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

3

Athena Lemnia

Roman replica. Phidias School
5th Century BC
210 x 81.5 x 50.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

5

Head of Athena

Roman replica. Myron model
5th Century BC
32.5 x 17.5 x 25.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

6

Head of an Ephebe

Roman replica
5th Century BC
29.5 x 19.5 x 23.4 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

8

Head of Diadumenos

Roman replica. Polycletus model
5th Century BC
32 x 22.5 x 26 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

9

The Westmacott Ephebe (Head)

Roman replica.Polycletus School
5th Century BC
39.5 x 17 x 19 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

10

The Dresden Ephebe

Roman replica. Polycletus School
5th Century BC
157 x 48 x 42.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

11

Maenad Relief

Réplica Romana. Modelo Kalímaco
s. V a. C
141 x 79 x 12 cm
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

12

Attic Tomb Stele of the Archesilaus Family

Greek Original
4th century BC
100 x 67 x 36 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

13

Fragment of an Attic Stele

Greek Original
4th century BC
42 x 28 x 14 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

14

Tomb Stele of the Hermaphilus Family

Greek Original
4th century BC
Height: 63 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

16

Head of the Apollo Sauroctonos

Roman replica. Praxiteles model
4th Century BC
Height: 24.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

18

Satyr pouring Wine

Roman replica. Praxiteles model
4th Century BC
160 x 62.5 x 60 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

19

Mask of a Satyr

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
28 x 22 x 11.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

21

Silenus with a Wineskin. Figure of a fountain

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
118.5 x 70.5 x 62 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

23

Dresden Maenad

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
45.5 x 14 x 14 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

24

Satyr Swinging a Stick

Hellenistix-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
65 x 33 x 20 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

26

Fragment of a Relief with a Banana and with Ribbons

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
19.5 x 30.5 x 3.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

28

Oscillum, side A: Apollo and Marsyas, B: Satyr

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
Diameter: 30 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

29

Dionysian Relief

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
40 x 69 x 6 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

30

Relief with Masks

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
44 x 25 x 16 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen
 

31

Relief (Cup) with Satyr and Silenus

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC- 1st Century AC
32 x 26 x 9 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

32

Nymph

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd century BC – 1st Century AC
107.5 x 47.5 x 25 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

34

Aphrodite and Triton

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC- 1st Century AC
52.5 x 23 x 18 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

35

The Great Goddess of Herculaneun

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC- 1st Century AC
203.5 x 56 x 45 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

36

The Small Goddess of Herculaneum

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
181 x 59 x 46 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

37

Polychrome Reconstruction

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
30 x 25.5 x 25.7 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

38

Pensive Girl, terracotta

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
21.6 x 5 x 4.1 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

39

Seated Girl, terracotta

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
16.3 x 4.7 x 4.7 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

40

Standing Girl, terracotta

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
24 x 9.1 x 6.6 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

42

Head of an old Woman

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC- 1st Century AC
32.5 x 17.4 x 20 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

43

Comic Mask

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
33.5 x 21 x 14.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

44

Head from the Muse of Alexandria

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
48 x 19 x 22 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

45

Leaning Muse

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
115 x 35 x 45 cm
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

46

Head of a leaning Muse, with polychromy

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
22 x 18 x 30.3 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

47

Relief of an Actor

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
35 x 39 x 10 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

49

Torso of Asclepius, with polychrome

Hellenistic-Roman Sculpture
2nd Century BC – 1st Century AC
Height: 44 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen
 

51

Statue of Venus with a Portrait from the Time of Severus

178 x 70 x 68 cm

Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

Roman Sculpture

2nd – 4th Century AC

53

Antonine Woman

Roman Sculpture

2nd – 4th Century AC

32 x 18 x 25.7 cm

Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

55

Young Knucklebones Player with Portrait

Roman Sculpture
2nd – 4th Century AC
55.5 x 51 x 43.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

56

Sarcophagus with the Hunt of Meleager

Roman Sculpture
2nd – 4th Century AC
84.5 x 233 x 11 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

58

Official from the Time of Severus “Barbarian”

Roman Sculpture
2nd – 4th Century AC
54.5 x 76.4 x 27 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

60

Bearded Man from the Time of Severus

Roman Sculpture
2nd – 4th Century AC
32 x 18.5 x 21.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

61

Small Statue wearing a Cuirass (Mars?)

Roman Sculpture
2nd – 4th Century AC
81 x 38 x 23 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

62

Small Statue of Apollo

Roman Sculpture
2nd – 4th Century AC
51 x 21 x 12 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

63

Small Statue of Ceres

Roman Sculpture
2nd – 4th Century AC
87.6 x 36.5 x 21 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

64

Small Statue of Diana

Roman Sculpture
2nd – 4th Century AC
70.5 x 40 x 22.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

66

The Emperor Maxentius

Roman Sculpture
2nd -4th Century AC
77 x 33 x 35.5 cm
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

67

The Missorium of Theodosius

Roman Sculpture
2nd – 4th Century AC
Diameter: 74 cm
Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia

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