Greece Painting Part III

From the Theban school came Eupranore from the Isthmus, who was also a sculptor, and who actually belongs to the Attic school, nevertheless reconnecting with the Sycionian school for the care shown in the symmetry of the figures. Eufranore’s pupil was the Antidote, and of this was Athenian Nicias, contemporary, but younger, of Praxiteles. Nicia perfected the encaustic technique, gave great importance to chiaroscuro, achieving magnificent plastic effects; he preferred grandiose subjects of mythic content, with a prevalence of female figures, and in these subjects he was an idealist painter. Of two of his famous paintings, the liberation of Io and the liberation of Andromeda, are preserved in Roman paintings.

In this sec. IV a. C., in which the great quantity of painters is equivalent to their eminent quality, other isolated artists are worth mentioning. Athenion of Maronia, who was preferred to Nicias for the greater austerity of his paintings; Cidia di Citno, of which the picture of the Argonauts was famous; Aetione with the wedding of Rossana and Alessandro, a reflection of which has been recognized in the “Aldobrandine Wedding” in the Vatican Library; Antifilo, Apelles’ rival, who like Aetione pursued artificial lighting effects indoors; Theon of Samos, who became famous in the genre of visions, that is, real representations of fantastic images; finally Ctesiloco, brother of Apelles, but very different from him, because he was a burlesque painter. Some of these painters penetrate the century. III, i.e. in full Hellenism, when the old schools are dispersed and a common style is formed. Most of the Hellenistic painters belong to Asia Minor and Egypt, where, as for architecture and sculpture, Greek art moves.

As in the case of sculpture, so in painting the myth is treated either with an accentuated, sometimes exaggerated, tragic spirit, or in a completely idyllic way. Representative of the tragic way is, p. eg, Euante of Egypt, in the idyllic manner of Artemon of Asia Minor, but it seems that in the last days of Hellenism the mythical subjects returned to the pure sources of the golden centuries, with the characters of greater composure and greater adherence to the content ; classical painter was Timomaco of Byzantium who lived in the century. I a. C. and author of two famous paintings, Ajax and Medea, whose echoes resound in Pompeian paintings.

But the pictorial art of Hellenism was essentially realistic, and was therefore genre painting. We have one of the first representatives of it in Antiphilus, whose activity, as we have seen, belongs to the fourth century: he was a r ō pográfos or painter of things, small in content and importance, and he was the inventor of the gr ý lloi, that is, burlesque scenes with human figures with a bestial head, in which kind of art undoubtedly influenced the figurations of Egyptian theriomorphs. And in Egypt this twofold current especially had to develop.

From r ō pografia we descend to ryparografía, that is to the painting of sordid things: the introducer was Peiraico (according to other Graphic artists), who was a painter of shops and humble and vulgar things. Scenes of comedies were painted by Calate. With the gr ý lloi, the r ō pografía, the comic scenes, we are already in a caricatural and humorous environment. Thus the painting reproduces pygmies or blacks, while the comic trait also insinuates itself in dramatic subjects: thus Nealce di Sicyon, in the framework of a Nilotic battle between Persians and Egyptians, represented a crocodile that threatened a donkey in the act of drinking water of the river.

By now the landscape of man prevails in Hellenistic painting; man no longer stands out, as in the previous painting, alone or with scant hints of landscape, but now it is man who is inserted in the large, boundless picture of nature. As in relief, so also in painting there are purely animal subjects or still life subjects. Not only that, but the painting of architectural elevations of an absolutely fantastic character, without logic of relationships and proportions, draws its origin from the scenography. For this kind of painting we have the name of Apaturio di Alabanda (Caria), whose famous was the decoration of the ekkl ē siast ḗ rion by Tralle. This kind of painting was increasingly affirmed, exaggerating in the fantastic with stems, candlesticks, hybrid unions of vegetable and animal motifs, in the century. I a. C., and remained in the Roman wall decoration (v.).

According to, mosaic is part of painting, which then has a greater development in Roman art. For Hellenism some monuments should be mentioned: the mosaics with iliac scenes, adorning the floor of the ship of Gerone II of Syracuse (276-222 BC); the “unswept” floor (asár ō tos or ī kos) by Soso pergameno. Some Pompeian mosaics must be mentioned here as Hellenistic works, such as the aforementioned mosaic of the clash between Alexander and Darius, and like that of the jugglers or buffoons signed by Dioscurides of Samo (v.).

Other Hellenistic pictorial monuments that have come down to us are also noteworthy, namely the painted steles of Pagase (Thessaly): about two hundred, including twenty well preserved; most of them belong to the 3rd century BC. C., and are important both for the technique, with the preparatory drawing at the tip of a brush and with the colors applied with a kind of palette knife, and for the expression in various perspective planes. A contribution to the knowledge of Hellenistic painting can be found in the paintings of Herculaneum and Pompeii, in which it is sometimes given to discern what is due to Hellenistic art from what was introduced by late and often sloppy decorators.

Greece Painting 3