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Chapter II: The Greek Casts
In the four rooms grouped around the central courtNos. 51, 54, 80 and 85are placed the collection of casts presented to the people of San Francisco by the Greek Government. They comprise a selection of the finest specimens of ancient statuary scientifically chosen from among the treasures of the museums of Greece. It offers a clear idea of the evolution of Greek art in all its phases, down to the Roman conquest (146 B. C.).
Study of the series should begin with the replica of the famous relief from the Lion Gate at Mycenæ (displayed in Room No. 85), the only important extant work of sculpture from Mycenæan times (about fifteenth century B. C.). After this a gap of eight or nine hundred years occurs, during which we cannot trace any monumental sculpture in Greece. Towards the end of the seventh century B. C. we find the first large marble figures, crude and uncouth but developing into much finer statues as early as the first half of the sixth century: the so-called "Apollos" (Nos. 1558 and 2720), the man carrying a calf (No. 624), the first sculptured tombstones (Nos. 29, 38, 41), and the archaic Nike from Delos (No. 21).
Under the influence of the wealthy courts of Ionian Greece, a surprising degree of excellence was reached in the second half of the sixth century: which is well illustrated by the treasures of the Akropolis Museum, the group from the pediment of the old temple of Athena (No. 631), the seated figure of the goddess (625), the long series of fine ladies in court dress (670, etc.), and the lovely horses (697, 700). The last years of the sixth century and the first decades of the fifth, just before the Persian invasion, have left us the sculptures from Ægina (1933, etc.), the "Blonde Head" in the Akropolis Museum (689), and a few archaic tombstones.
During the next phase of Greek art, beginning before the middle of the fifth century, the influence of Phidias and his school was supreme at Athens. It is here represented by the sculptures from the Parthenon, two small copies of the famous Athena by Phidias (128, 129), the great relief from Eleusis (126). What Attic art could produce towards the end of the century is shown by the sculptures from the Erechtheion and the temple of Nike (Victory), on the Akropolis; while the fragments and heads from the sanctuary of Hera near Argos, excavated by the American School of Archæology at Athens. represent a contemporary Peloponnesian school (1561, etc.).
The first half of the fourth century marks another period of excellence. Mutilated fragments alone remain of two of the finest temples of this phase, the temples of Athena Alea at Tegea in Arcadia, built and decorated by Skopas (178, 180), and of Asklepios at Epidauros in the Argolid (136, etc.).
But this fragmentary evidence is well compensated by the world-famed Hermes by Praxiteles (at Olympia), by a couple of beautiful works from his school, if not from his hand (181, 182, 215-217), and by the finest funeral reliefs at Athens.
The second part of the fourth century is scarcely represented in our collection, while the following Hellenistic Period (third and second centuries) offers us the Themis of Rhamnus (231), the colossal Poseidon from Melos (235), the Gaulish warrior from Delos (247), and the remains of a group by Darnophon of Messene (1734-1737). A few good Roman portraits (249, 417, 368) bring up the rear.
The casts were produced in a special laboratory belonging to the National Museum at Athens, which alone has the right to make and sell them. At the end of the Exposition the collection, which forms a real museum of casts, was handed over to the city of San Francisco as a friendly gift from Greece, a message from the Old World to the New.
Greek Casts: Room No. 51
In the center of the room are two marble statuettes of Victory, Nos. 159 and 161. These were taken from the originals discovered in the Temple of Artemis, at Epidauros, and date from the first half of the fourth century B. C. The marble vase No. 835 is taken from a tomb. Its Grecian name is "Lekythos." It shows a low relief of the dead young man it commemorates, representing him as a youthful warrior on horseback in the midst of his family. It is an excellent example of its type dating from about 400 B. C.
All around the walls of the room are casts taken from the immortal friezes of the Parthenon. Detailed description of these casts would occupy more space than this little book can afford; but its readers are recommended to read the following books for information in regard to these masterpieces:
Grouped against Wall A from left to right are the following works: Casts from a marble relief from a tomb found at Athens (No. 715). It shows a boy opening a cage with his right hand, bird nestling on his left. Under the cage a cat and a slave boy. The lower half of the slab is missing. This is excellent early fourth century work. Architectural fragments and two statues, caryatids, Nos. 1347 A and 1347B, from the north and south porch of the Erechtheion, finest Attic work of the late fifth century. No. 128 is a cast of the unfinished marble statuette of the goddess Athena, which is a copy of the famous statue of gold and ivory by the great master Phidias in the Parthenon. No. 129 is a more elaborate but artistically inferior of the same famous original.
An excellent example of decorative work from the theater Dionysius at Athens may be studied in No. 260. It is taken from a marble relief of a maiden with graceful drapery shown in a dancing posture. No. 275 is another example of the same class of work. No. 126 shows a large votive relief, from Eleusis. It represents Demeter offering ears of corn to the boy Triptolemos. Behind the little boy the dusky goddess of the underworld Persephone holds a torch. It is the finest type of Attic work, from about the year 450 B. C. Along Wall C are grouped first, No. 218, a relief from a marble statue of Hermes, or of a funereal hero, probably from a tomb in the island of Andros. Fine specimen of fourth century work and may have been suggested by the famous Hermes of Praxiteles. No.4, the Hermes of Praxiteles, at Olympia. The god holds the infant Dionysos on his left arm. This is almost the only original statue by a great master preserved. No. 215, reliefs from a marble base which bore the group of Leto, Apollon and Artemis, by Praxiteles, at Mantinea in Arcadia. These are works by the great artist's pupils. They represent the musical contest of Apollon and Marsyas, the Muses looking on.
On Wall D: No. 1501, a marble relief, possibly a tombstone. A man lies on a couch, at his feet a woman seated on a stool and a slave boy. This was formerly erroneously called The Death of Socrates and is an example of the fifth to sixth century B. C. No. 173, marble votive relief of Askelepios, draped in his cloak, seated on a chair. This is from Epidauros, fourth century B. C.
In the center of this room are found the following groups: No. 247, marble statue of a Gaulish warrior, from Delos. The warrior has fallen on his right knee and is making a last defense against a victorious enemy, probably mounted. This belongs to the Pergamon school and is an excellent piece of work of about the second century B. C. No. 256, a mutilated marble statue of Dionysos. A piece of Hellenistic work from the theatre of Sikyon, near Corinth. No. 263, marble statue of Asklepios, from his sanctuary at Epidauros. Roman copy of a Greek original. On Wall A is a relief of Demetria and Pamphile, an excellent piece of fourth century work. No. 368, marble portrait head of Hermarchos, found at Athens. Good Roman work. No. 231, a marble statue by Chairestratos of Themis (Justice) from her temple at Rhamus in Attica. Early third century B. C. No. 869 is an excellent early fourth century example. It shows a youth standing in a pensive attitude, his little slave and his dog mourning at his feet, his father before him, his right hand raised to his lips. This was found in the bed of the Ilissos at Athens. No. 1733, quadrangular marble base, from Athens. which originally bore a statue by the famous fourth century sculptor Bryax is, probably a Victory, since the reliefs on three sides (bearded rider advancing towards a tripod) commemorate the successes of three Athenians in the anthippasia (contest on horseback ). No. 235, colossal marble statue of Poseidon, from the island of Melos. Broad decorative Hellenistic work. No. 1735, head of Artemis.
On Wall B are found: No.7, a relief showing two men on a couch, two seated women, and Charon in his boat in the foreground, from the precinct of Lysimachides. No. 1572, torso of young warrior, from one of the metopes of the later temple of Hera (after 423 B. C.). No. 417, marble bust of Antinous, the favorite of the Emperor Hadrian, from Patras. Careful work. No. 831, Phrasikleia seated, her slave girl with an open casket standing before her, fourth century B. C. No. 249, marble bust of the Emperor Hadrian (A. D. 117-138), found near the Olympieon, at Athens. No. 174, a marble votive relief of Asklepios seated on a chair, draped in his cloak. From Epidauros, fourth century B. C.
Wall C, No. 1734, head of Demeter, a long veil flowing behind. No. 1, an excellent piece of fourth century work, relief showing Dexileos (killed in battle 394 H. C.) on horseback, slaying a defeated foe. No. 1736, head of Anytos. No. 1500, votive marble relief from the Piræus. The youthful Dionysos on his couch, a girl sitting at his feet. Three actors in long robes, with masks in their hands, stand behind her.
On Wall D: No. 3, the relief of a priestess, carrying a hydria, or water jar. Fourth century work. No. 722, a seated lady taking jewels from box offered by a slave girl, while her little boy offers her a bird. No. 183, taken from a marble head of Apollon, dating from the fourth century B. C. A cast of the head of Medusa is also on this wall. It is of the Roman decorative style taken from some buildings at Argos.
Room No. 54
In the center of the room are three very interesting works No. 684 is one of a large number of statues of maidens and matrons, some of them princesses, executed in the archaic style, which were dedicated to the goddess Athena in the second half of the sixth century B. C., and buried after they had been mutilated during the sack of the Acropolis by the Persians. On the originals of these statues many traces of bright coloring remains. No. 248 is taken from the marble statue of a young temple slave offering sacrifice, found near the Olympieon at Athens, the original being copied from a bronze of the fifth century. No. 658 is the mutilated statue of a youth, Attic work of the nearly fifth century.
Ranged along Wall A are the following important objects: No. 243, statue of Hermes, the original being of the fifth century. No. 672, another of the buried statues of the Acropolis referred to above, as is also No. 678. No. 226, marble relief, middle of the fifth century, showing woman holding leaves. No. 240, statue of Hermes, holding the kerykeon, or messengers wand in his left hand. Supposed to be copy of a work by the great Lysippos, court sculptor to Alexander the Great. No. 689, head of a youth from a statue of the early fifth century B. C. Excellent Attic work.
Arranged along Wall B may be found the following casts: Nos. 680 and 670, two examples of buried statues from the Acropolis, referred to above. No. 625, statue of Athena, perhaps the famous one by Endois, archaic work of the sixth century B. C., much weathered. No. 1378, base of a statue found in the sanctuary of the god of surgery, Asklepios, at Athens. It bears a case of surgical instruments and two cupping glasses, carved in low relief. No. 258, upper part of a colossal statue of Asklepios. Good example of the decorative early Hellenistic work. No. 742, grave stone, or "stele" of the fifth century.
The prominent objects shown along Wall D are as follows: No. 989, the goddess Nike seated upon a rock. No. 695, marble relief, called the "Mourning Athena." First half of the fifth century B. C. The Goddess, pensively leaning on her lance, gazes at a stele on which perhaps she is supposed to read an inscription which touches even her immortal heart with a note of human sorrow. No. 262, statue of that goddess of great power, who even today seems to exercise her might, Aphrodite, draped and wearing a sword. Excellent copy of a fifth century original of the type called Venus Genetrix.
Room No. 85
In the center of the room are the following: No. 156: a goddess, probably of the kind called Auræ, or nymph of the air. No. 1347, a colossal owl, Attic work of the late fifth century. Relief from tomb, one of many shown among the casts, found at Athens.
Arranged along Wall A will be found these, among others: No. 185, head of a woman from Delos, depicted with an expression of keen pain. Fourth century B. C. No. 15, archaic head of a youth, found in the sanctuary of the Ptoan Apollo in Bœotia. Provincial Bœotian work of the early sixth century B. C. No. 2720, colossal statue of a naked youth from the temple of Poseidon at Sunion. Archaic, first part of sixth century. No. 181, youthful head from the temple of Pluton at Eleusis, probably a local deity, Eubuleus. Example of the best Attic work of the fourth century B. C., formerly considered an original of the great Praxiteles.
Arranged along Wall B are the following: No.1, primitive statue of a woman, from Delos, dedicated by Nikandre, a noble lady of Naxos, to the goddess Artemis. Early Greek art from the seventh century B. C. No. 739, statue of Amphotto, found at Thebes, first half of the fifth century B. C. Nos. 677 and 681, two more of the buried statues from the Acropolis. No. 681 is the finest of all, and is the work of the famous sculptor Antenor. No. 21, archaic statue of a running, or flying Victory, from Delos, where it probably crowned the roof of a temple. No. 624, archaic style statue, first half of sixth century B. C., showing a man bearing a calf across his shoulders, on his way, no doubt, to the altar of some god.
Along Wall C are found: No. 700, a small statue, much mutilated, of horse with a rider. Excellent archaic work. No. 178, a boar's head, from the marble pediment sculptures, representing the hunting of the Calydonian boar, of the Temple of Athena Alea, at Tegea. Best Attic work, probably by Skopas, early fourth century B. C. Limestone relief from the Lion Gate at Mycenæ. Two lions guardant, on each side of a column. About fifteenth century B. C., the finest monument of Mycenæan sculpture. No. 190, marble head of a woman, probably Hygieia, from the sanctuary of Asklepios, at Athens, fourth century B. C. Nos. 697, 700, are small statues of a horse and of a horse with a rider, both much mutilated. Excellent archaic work. No, 29, a marble tombstone (stele) with the figure of the dead warrior, Aristion, friend of Peisistratos, tyrant of Athens, in low relief. After 550 B. C. No. 1935, an archaic marble head of a warrior, from the temple of Aphaia in Ægina. About 500 B. C.
Arranged along Wall D will be found these, with others: No. 1934, an archaic marble head of a warrior, referred to above. No. 41, a marble tombstone, probably base of a statue of a sphinx. In front, a youthful warrior, on horseback, holding a second horse. Mourners on either side. Early sixth century. No. 143, head of a horse. No. 1558, marble statue of a youth, commonly called Apollo, from Melos. First half of the sixth century B. C.