Augustus of Primaporta (c.20 BCE) and The Doryphoros (Polykleitos, 450 BCE)
The two works of art represented in this article are visual arts taking the form of sculpture. They are both representational, representing a person or a technique (Ridgway, 1984). Augustus represents an individual, whereas the Doryphoros represents a technique.
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The two works are three dimension artworks, made of bronze originally, but the current works are copies made of marble. The artists cut different sizes of marble and molded them, thereby putting the pieces together. They used contour lines to show the face and curved lines to show the body posture.
Diagonal lines describe the structure of the hands. Horizontal and vertical lines show the area that holds the artwork. There are organic shapes showing the bodies of the images represented. There is a balance in the work since the images fill the entire space forming a symmetrical balance (Ridgway, 1984).
The Augustus has a visual texture of smoothness on the body parts, but a rough texture on the clothes adorned on the image. On the other hand, a smooth texture can be seen on the Doryphoros. The artists used one key shade and tint. The different shades of brown create a high level of unity in the artwork. The Doryphoros shows a value of darkness, whereas the Augustus has a value of light.
There is plenty of symbolism in the work. The sculpture (Augustus) represents the first emperor of Rome, Augustus (Ridgway, 1984). The name Augustus means “supreme Ruler.” The artist shows clearly that Augustus was a significant ruler in ancient Rome, with remarkable support from the Roman Senate.
The reasoning behind this is that he accepted their traditions. There is a young boy sitting on a dolphin near the main image’s right leg. This symbolizes Augustus’ descent from a goddess called Venus. It also emphasizes the importance of polytheism (worship of many gods) in Ancient Rome. The fact that he has no shoes shows his divine nature, and the respect accorded to gods and goddesses in the Roman Empire.
The model also shows a connection between Augustus and the politics of Athens (Ridgway, 1984). There are several figures on the garment and some of these include; a navel and suckling babies (a symbol of peace and prosperity). In essence, the sculpture portrays a contemporary society whereby some leaders view themselves as God’s choice, and thus abuse people’s rights while arguing that authority comes from God.
The Doryphoros is a symbol of the artist’s passion for Greek mathematics, philosophy, music and politics. The artwork shows symmetrical balance in things. The artist’s main concern is mathematics. He insists that small body parts can be used to determine the length and width of large parts, through multiplication of their measurements. The artist used the chiastic principle, which has its roots in the Greek term chi. The term describes something formed by integration of straight and curved lines when making an object.
The figure shows the tension and relaxation that the artist felt, are the ways used to create balance of the human body. Polykleitos always used mathematical equations when making up body parts of sculptures, and he spelt out his art theories in “The Canon.” He represents the Greek philosophy which advocated for the inner goodness of people. The artist has profoundly influenced modern mathematicians through the Pythagoras theorem in numerical calculations.
Ridgway, B. (1984). Roman Copies of Greek Sculpture. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press.