Historians divide art into different periods. One of them is the classical period. It spanned between the 5th and the 4th centuries BC. The form of art started in Greece. Pieces produced in this period have distinct characteristics. A case in point is the sculptures made in Greek during this era. According to Inaga, artists started using humans and animals as their models (250). An example of such art is the “Youth (the ‘Kritian Boy)”. The piece was made around 480 BC. Another instance is “Hermes”.
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In this paper, the author will compare and contrast three works of art from the classical era. The first is the “Portrait Statue of a Boy”. It is made of bronze. The piece dates back to between early 1st century B.C and early 1st century A.D. As such, it falls within the classical period. The context in which the work was created is the Julio-Claudian rule in Rome, Europe. The era is used to refer to the rule of the first five Roman Emperors (“Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History” Portrait Statue of a Boy 1). The five were Nero, Tiberius, Augustus, Caligula, and Claudius. Information about the artist is not provided.
The second piece is the “Standing Buddha, Probably Shakyamuni”. It dates back to the classical period. The art originated in India, Asia. The piece is also made of bronze. Its context relates to the religion of the people of India (“Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History” Standing Buddha 2). The bronze sculpture survived in India before the 18th century. The reason is that it represents an important figure in the religion of the people. Information about the artist is also lacking.
The third piece of work is the “Standing Figure”. It has its origins in Columbia, South America. Historians date it back to between the 1st century BC and the early 1st century A.D. The time period falls within the classical era. The sculpture is made of gold. The context within which it was created was the battle of Boyaca or the New Grenada. It was made to represent a warrior (“Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History” Standing Figure 3). Information about the artist behind the sculpture is not known.
Similarities and Differences between the Three Sculptures
The three sculptures are made of metal. It is an indication that classical artists came up with works that could last for long if well preserved. The metals used to make the three pieces are some of the strongest materials known to man (Inaga 250). The pieces of art were also curved to represent a historical period in society. All of them date back to the classical era.
The classical period is characterized by different themes. Each of the three pieces highlights a specific premise in society. For example, the “Standing Buddha” represents the religion of the people of India. The “Portrait Statue of a Boy”, on the other hand, depicts the rule of a dynasty. On its part, the “Standing Figure” illustrates war and courage. Another similarity between the three pieces is that they were highly regarded in their respective societies (“Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History” Standing Figure 3). All of them are found in the national museums of these nations. One of them is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The main reason for their protection is because they meant a lot to the people. Another similarity is that they do not contain any information regarding the artists. In addition, all the pieces are sculptures.
The first difference is the context within which the three pieces were created. The first sculpture is from Rome. It represents the first dynasty of the five Roman Emperors. The second piece is from India. It represents Buddhism, the major religion in the region. The third piece of art is from Columbia. It is a depiction of a warrior. It was used to honor the soldiers who fought in the Boyacan battle. The war is an important event for the people of Columbia. Another major variation between the three sculptures is their origin (Varner 294). As indicated above, they represent different regions of the world. The piece from Rome highlights the culture of the Europeans. The second piece of art depicts the cultural heritage of Asian society. The third represents Columbia and the culture of people from South America during the classical era.
The size of the three pieces of art is also different. To start with, the “Portrait Statue of a Boy” is 123.2cm high (“Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History” Portrait Statue of a Boy 5). On its part, the “Standing Buddha” is 40.6cm high (“Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History” Standing Buddha 8). The “Standing Figure” is the smallest amongst the three. It stands at 22.9cm high (“Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History” Standing Figure 4). The pieces from Rome and India are made of bronze. However, Columbian sculpture is made of gold, which is more expensive than bronze. However, this does not mean that the golden sculpture is more valuable compared to the other two (Inaga 253). The reason is that the statue made of gold is smaller than the rest. As such, it is possible that it may be cheaper. The “Standing Figure” is also hollow, while the bronze statues are solid. Columbia has numerous gold mines. As such, the material was readily available to the artist who made the sculpture. What this means is that the differences in the value, size, and structure of the three pieces of works could have been brought about by the availability of the materials used.
The three pieces of art can be compared according to the time within which they were created. All of them were made during the classical period. As already indicated in this paper, during this era, artists were attempting to give animals and human beings a physical form in art. The first pieces of art were made to represent human beings. However, a number of them lacked some parts. For example, a man could be created without limbs or shoulders (Varner 283). The form of art evolved continuously during this period. At the end of the era, artists could represent the entire form of a creature. The same seems to be happening in the works from the three places. Each of them has a number of traits associated with the era. For example, the first piece of work from Rome represents the physical appearance of the early leaders. The boy represents the adopted grandson of Emperor Augustus. The image in the sculpture of Buddha depicts the god of the region.
It is clear that all the works are representations of the people. Representation is a major characteristic of the classical period. The images can also be seen to highlight cultures that are well known to society at large. For example, Rome is famous for the culture of the leaders it had (Inaga 257). The Roman emperors are common in the history of the world. Buddhism is also another common culture of the people, which is represented in the piece of art selected (“Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History” Standing Buddha 4). The history of religion dates back to the classical period in India. Columbian culture is associated with warriors. The period within which the piece of art was made clearly represents the society’s way of life.
It is the opinion of this author that the three pieces of art are significant to the culture of the people who lived within the period they were made. To this end, the works can tell the cultural story of the three societies. The current research revealed that during the classical period, artists had started to learn how to represent human beings and animals as objects. The three sculptures have artistic significance given that they show a form in which the people from these societies represented their ways of life. Each of the pieces will continue to be a significant part of the three communities. In addition, they are preserved in the museums to teach future generations about the history of their people. Their preservation will also help to show the forms of art that prevailed during the classical period. The selection of the works was motivated by the urge to explore the arts of different continents within a certain time period.
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Standing Figure 2015. Web.
—. Standing Buddha, Probably Shakyamuni 2015. Web.
—. Portrait Statue of a Boy 2015. Web.
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Inaga, Shigemi. “Is Art History Globalizable?: A Critical Commentary from a Far Eastern Point of View.” Is Art History Global. Ed. James Elkins. New York: Free Press, 2007, 249-279. Print.
Varner, Eric. “Reading Replications: Roman Rhetoric and Greek Quotations.” Art History 29.2 (2006): 280-303. Print.