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Phidias aka Pheidias

A renowned ancient Greek sculptor, painter, and architect

Phidias lived during the 5th century BC. He is considered one of the greatest sculptors of classical Greece and played a significant role in the development of classical Greek art. Phidias was associated with the construction of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens and is famous for creating two colossal chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statues: the statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon and the statue of Zeus at Olympia. The latter was considered one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World."

None of his original works have survived

History records that his artistic style and techniques greatly influenced later generations of sculptors.

Sculptures in the British Museum taken from the Parthenon, known as the "Parthenon Marbles" or Elgin Marbles, and sculptures in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, are considered representative of Phidias's work, even though it is unknown with certainty how many of them he created himself.

Phidias the artist and influencer

Phidias was known for a naturalistic and idealized representations of the human form. His overall style and approach to sculpture influenced the development of the classical tradition in Greek, Roman, and later Western art.

In general ways this is how Phidias' work has influenced later artists:

  1. Roman Artists: Many Roman sculptors were heavily influenced by Greek art, including the work of Phidias. Roman copies of Greek sculptures (including possibly those by Phidias) are one of the main ways we know about Greek sculptural art. The Romans admired Greek art for its beauty and naturalism, and they created many copies of Greek statues for their homes and public spaces.

  2. Renaissance Artists: During the Renaissance, artists like Michelangelo and Donatello looked back to classical Greek and Roman art for inspiration. The Renaissance marked a return to the naturalism and humanism seen in Greek art, and the monumental, idealized forms that Phidias was known for can be seen in many Renaissance sculptures.

  3. Neoclassical Artists: The Neoclassical period in the 18th and 19th centuries saw a renewed interest in classical Greek and Roman art. Artists like Antonio Canova were influenced by the idealized forms and moral themes seen in the work of artists like Phidias.

  4. Modern Artists: Even into the modern period, artists have looked back to the classical tradition as a source of inspiration. For example, the 20th-century British sculptor Henry Moore was known to study and draw from ancient Greek sculptures.

Phidias' work as a part of the classical Greek artistic tradition has had a profound and lasting influence on Western art. Artists, art students and art history in general continues to study the works of ancient Greek artists like Phidias to understand the principles of naturalism, balance, and harmony in the depiction of the human form.

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Original page May 2, 2023

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