Artists and Signatures in Ancient Greece by Jeffrey M. Hurwit

By Jeffrey M. Hurwit

The Greeks inscribed their artistic endeavors and craft with labels making a choice on mythological or ancient figures, bits of poetry, and claims of possession. yet no form of inscription is extra hotly debated or extra fascinating than the artist's signature, which increases questions about the function and standing of the artist and the murals or craft itself. during this publication, Jeffrey M. Hurwit surveys the phenomenon of artists' signatures around the many genres of Greek paintings from the 8th to the 1st century BCE. even supposing the nice majority of extant works lack signatures, the Greek artist still signed his items way over the other artist of antiquity. analyzing signatures on gemstones, cash, mosaics, wall-paintings, metalwork, vases, and sculptures, Hurwit argues that signatures aid us check the location of the Greek artist inside of his society in addition to his belief of his personal ability and originality.

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Olympia Museum 46–8. Photo: author. XV. Detail of southwest wing of the Pergamon Altar (c. 180–160 BCE), with signature of Theorrhetos on upper molding. Berlin. Photo courtesy H. R. Goette. PART ONE ON THE STATUS, ORIGINALITY, AND DIFFERENCE OF THE GREEK ARTIST CHAPTER ONE EUTHYKARTIDES’ TOES: SIGNATURES AND THE STATUS OF THE GREEK ARTIST I t was only one, at most two, generations after the invention of the type that a sculptor from the island of Naxos carved an over-life-size kouros∗ out of a block of Naxian marble and dedicated it in the temenos∗ (sacred precinct) of Apollo on Delos [Pl.

49 There are Menodotos and [ . . 54 During the late Republic and the reign of Augustus, in fact, the Roman fascination with gems – most of them cut by Greeks – became virtually fetishistic. 55 We have from the grotto at Sperlonga colossal marble groups representing some of the adventures of Odysseus. They are probably early Imperial remakings or variations of Hellenistic prototypes installed in the cave during the reign of Tiberius, and one of them – Skylla attacking the hero’s ship – is signed (in a panel on the ship’s side) Athanadoros, son of Hagesandros, and Hagesandros, son of Paionios, and Polydoros the son of Poly- 7.

Lacer, who made this bridge, dedicated the new temple as well; of course, even a single benefaction pleases the gods . . 88 In short, the history of Egyptian art and architecture, the history of Near Eastern art and architecture, the history of Etruscan art and architecture, the history even of Roman art and architecture, cannot possibly be written as a history of artists and architects. In contrast, one theoretically could write a history of Greek art and architecture that is just a history of the Greek artists 29 30 ARTISTS AND SIGNATURES IN ANCIENT GREECE and architects whose names we happen to know, or who have had names assigned to them, from the following categories: (a) artists and architects whose names we know only from literary sources or inscriptions like decrees or building accounts (Dipoinos, Skyllis, Boularchos, Mnesarkhos, Polygnotos, Apelles, Rhoikos, Theodoros, Libon, Iktinos, Kallikrates, Mnesikles, Polykleitos, Skopas, Euphranor, to list just a few) (b) artists whose names we know only from signatures, whole or fragmentary (every single Athenian vase-painter who ever signed a pot, every other Greek vase-painter who ever signed a pot, Euthykartides of Naxos, [Poly]medes of Argos, Aristodamos of Argos, Geneleos, Philergos, Gnosis, Epimenes, Dexamenos, Euainetos, Kimon [the die-engraver∗ ], and so on) (c) artists whose names we know from both literary sources and extant signatures (for example, Endoios, Antenor, Kritios and Nesiotes, Kresilas, Praxiteles, Lysippos, Nikodamos of Mainalos, and Boethos of Kalchedon), and (d) artists whose “hands” and oeuvres have been identified by a connoisseurship, more than a century old, that has been less than perfect but that has nonetheless proven reliable over all, and who have been given handy sobriquets (such as the Dipylon Master, the Chigi Painter, the Achilles Painter, the Berlin Painter, even the “Theseum Architect”89 ).

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