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Praxiteles

Praxiteles (prăksĭtˈəlēz) [key], fl. c.370–c.330 B.C., famous Attic sculptor, probably the son of Cephisodotus. His Hermes with the Infant Dionysus, found in the Heraeum, Olympia, in 1877, is the only example of an undisputed extant original by any of the greatest ancient masters. It was discovered in the same place where Pausanias had seen it 17 centuries earlier. The workmanship of the sculptor can be judged directly from it—the delicate and perfect modeling, as well as the strength and grace of conception, are characteristic of his figures. His most renowned statues are lost entirely or known only through Roman imitations. Out of some 50 works mentioned as his in ancient writings, the one chosen as finest of all was the Aphrodite of Cnidus. There is a copy in the Vatican. Of the Eros of Thespiae, only the fame remains. Praxiteles made several statues of young satyrs; the one in the Capitoline Museum (Rome) is celebrated in Hawthorne's Marble Faun. Other copies of the sculptor's works are Apollo Sauroktonus (Vatican); Apollino (Florence); and Silenus and Dionysus (Louvre). All of these illustrate his choice of youthful gods and other beings in which joy of life finds expression. Praxiteles' modeling of face and hair and his treatment of the surface of the marble are unsurpassed. Praxiteles also created works in bronze, e.g., the Apollo Sauroktonos described by Pliny the Elder in the 1st cent. A.D. The piece thought by many to be the original of this bronze was purchased by the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2004.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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