Art History through the 15th Century
Terms in this set (71)
A term applied to artwork that has incorporated the natural surface of a rock or stone in the creation of an image. For example, a rock's rounded curves may suggest the torso of a body. Examples of the found relief technique are the Venus of Willendorf and the Lascaux cave paintings.
A large stone used in the construction of sacred monuments, such as Stonehenge. Such monuments are referred to as megalithic.
Refers to a belief in the magical power of images. An example of sympathetic magic is the presumed function of the Lascaux cave paintings. It is believed that hunters threw spears and weapons at the image of bison in order to have success in their hunt of the animal.
The term used to describe a figure that is represented in both frontal and profile views. For example, on the Palette of Narmer, King Narmer's torso is shown from the front, while his lower body is shown in profile.
A group of small islands between Greece and Asia Minor that produced some notable Neolithic idols and figurines and which flourished simultaneous to the third-millennium Egyptian civilization.
The adjective derived from the Cyclops, a one-eyed mythical race of Greek giants who could foresee the time of their death. It refers to the huge boulders, which were used to construct the Mycenaean citadels ("Cyclopean walled construction") because later Greeks, upon seeing the size of the stones and citadels, speculated that only the Cyclops could have built them.
The great Greek epic poet who in the 8th century BC recorded the legends of Odysseus (The Odyssey) and recounted the exploits of the Greek (or more accurately Mycenaean) heroes who fought against Troy to release Helen from the amorous clutches of Paris, Prince of Troy (recorded in The Iliad).
Minos and Minotaur
Minos was the name or the title, which Homer records, of the ruler of Minos on Crete and from which the Minoan civilization was given its name by the English archeologist Arthur Evans. According to Homer, Theseus, a prince of Athens, dispatched the monstrous half-man/half-bull to save his compatriots in the labyrinthine palace of Minos at Knossos. Minoan art has a preference for bull themes.
Originally of wood, painted red, with a plain shaft (without fluting) and topped by a simple rounded capital or echinus. Its most distinctive feature is that it tapers in reverse to the custom of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans with a narrow base widening toward the top.
Mycenae was a city in Greece of the second millennium BC mentioned by Homer. Heinrich Schliemann proved it a reality in the 19th century. The Mycenaeans were archaic Greeks who built huge citadels of large boulders utilizing a primitive corbelled arch. Examples are Tiryns and Mycenae, the chief city from which the culture takes its name.
Sometimes called "painting in metals." Gold and silver are cold-hammered out into designs, such as animals. The details are etched into and around them and the negative spaces are filled with a copper, sulfur, and lead compounds, which leaves a black deposit. This was a medium in which the Mycenaeans excelled, an example of which is the inlaid dagger with a Lion Hunt.
Tholos and dromos
A tholos is also called a beehive tomb because of its tapering beehive shape. It creates, in reality, a kind of primitive dome where the stones are laid without mortar but remain interlocked in place by their weight, size, and placement. The dromos is the long processional way, which leads to the tholos. After the interment of a Mycenaean king the dromos and tholos would be filled in or covered by earth to be forever hidden.
Archaic smile or "sign of life"
This rather artificial-looking smile was part of the formula for pre-classical (Archaic) statues. The smile is a sign of life or an indicator that the youth or maiden was at the height of their physical beauty, real, and alive; a mark of the inner ego or animus. Greek culture celebrated the intellect every bit as much as physical valor.
Literally (in Italian), " to stand against." In its fullest meaning contrapposto is the scientifically understood distribution of the weights and balances of the body with corresponding higher or lower hip and shoulder to the weight-bearing leg or side. The Kritios Boy suggests contrapposto but the Doryphoros has been traditionally reckoned to be the first to employ it with full accuracy.
The "canon," standard, or rule, against which all classical and later Roman statuary was measured was Polykleitos' "Doryphoros." The sculptor wrote a manuscript that accompanied the work describing a system of perfect proportions. It was considered to be the most ideal and perfected representation of the male hero-athlete. Anatomically it was correct and the muscles corresponded with the physical motion of walking and carrying the spear. His is perfected and idealized. The figure is mentally engaged with the world as he looks in the direction he walks. He is muscularly developed like a well trained athlete, and he is in full contrapposto.
Refers to the period in Greek art from 480 B.C. to about the time of Alexander the Great's death in 323 B.C. The art of this period is based upon natural models, anatomical and perspectival correctness, and is ideal or perfect. The Doryphoros and The Parthenon are the sculptural and architectural high points of the period. NOTE: The term "classical" can also mean art with convincing naturalism from the Greek Classical, Hellenistic, or Roman eras.
Greek schools that taught the liberal arts and athletic training (hence the name, which means "the place to get naked"). The idea was to train the mind and the body. They began as strength-training schools for hoplite infantry and developed into de facto universities by the Classical Age.
he name of the stylistic period that began with the death of Alexander the Great (323 BCE) and ended with the annexation of Egypt to the Roman Empire (30 BCE). At that time, the Near East and Egypt were exposed to Greek culture through the conquests of Alexander. The Hellenistic kingdoms that were subsequently established used Greek artistic conventions -- often for the purposes of propaganda -- and the wealthy, Greek-speaking elites commissioned art for their private enjoyment. Art became more varied in subject matter and style and was often highly dramatic, exaggerated, tragic, passionate, and intense. The empirical search for beauty, which characterized the classical period, was replaced by a new sense of realism including the ugly side of life, an interest in the world of dreams or the subconscious, graphic violence, and representations of non-Greeks. Action and emotion are typical stylistic features of Hellenistic art and are underscored frequently by employing an open composition.
A standing male statue of an archetypal Greek, athletic youth presented nude with one foot set forward, hands down to the sides. As seen in examples from the Archaic period, he is rather rigid and axial in its style. These figures were dedicated at the temples to represent hero-athletes of the games or found in graveyards as memorials.
A standing female statue of an archetypal Greek maiden presented with one hand extended making an offering to the gods. She is always clothed and frequently with the archaic smile. They also were rigid and axial in style and were used as dedication figures at the temples (such as on the Acropolis, Athens).
The greatest sculptor from the school at Sikyon, then an artistic center second only to Athens, and ancient sources classed him with Myron of Eleutherai, Pheidias and Polykleitos. Lysippos introduced a new canon of proportions in which the bodies were more slender. Heads were now roughly one-eighth the height of the body rather than one-seventh, as in the previous century.
Active c. 470-440 BCE. Greek sculptor from Eleutherai (bordering Boeotia and Attica). Ancient sources praise the deceptive realism of his work in bronze, especially statues of athletes. Like Polykleitos, he appears to have been much concerned with issues of composition and motion (rhythmos) and of proportion (symmetria).
The first evidence of this form of paganism dates back to the Mycenaens. It is a religion based on oral tradition and various references, but not on any one text. The Olympian gods were considered to hold supernatural powers and live forever but demonstrate the personality traits of humans as they often succumbed to their passions. Their human form and beauty inspired young Greeks to cultivate and perfect their own appearances.
A term that describes a work of art that is not self-contained but refers to other implied elements outside of its own space and may include a reference to the viewer. Could also be used as a formal description of a composition with extended elements and voids.
A festival honoring the goddess Athena, the warrior goddess of wisdom and the intellect and patroness of the city of Athens. The festival occurred every four years and was characterized by a procession through the city on a sacred way and concluded outside the Partheno n on the Acropolis. It was also celebrated by athletic games and the sacrifice of one hundred cattle.
(b. Argos or Sikyon, c. 450 - c. 415 bc). Greek sculptor. Along with Phidias, with whom he is often compared in the sources, Polykleitos was the most important sculptor in bronze of the 5th century BCE. He wrote a manual (the Canon) and headed the first recorded major "school" of sculptors, which lasted three generations, and he influenced not only the sculpture of his own time but also Hellenistic and Roman sculpture.
His colossal reputation was due in part to the novelty of ideas embodied in an essentially conservative art. For example, he introduced total nudity as a means of enhancing the sensual appeal of mature goddesses; by contrast, he also showed a predilection for the playful activities of adolescent gods. His chief contribution to Western art lies in his aesthetic exploration of female sexuality.
An object that is given in offering to the gods, often an expression of gratitude to the gods.
Literally means (in Greek) the "high point of the city." There were many Greek cities which had acropoli which housed the temples to the gods including Athens and Pergamon. The most famous of these was at Athens with its complex of temples which includes the greatest of the classical temples, the Parthenon.
Refers to the period in Greek art from 480 BC, about the time of Alexander the Great's death in 325. The art of this period is based upon natural models, anatomical and perspectival correctness, and is ideal or perfect. The Doryphoros and The Parthenon are the sculptural and architectural high points of the period.
A series or row of columns usually spanned by lintels.
One of the architectural orders of Ancient Greece, it's characterized by a slender column with a capital carved into acanthus leaves.
The most plain and simplest of the three Greek architectural orders. The Doric order is characterized by capitals without bases, simple rectangular-shaped capitals, and a frieze consisting in an alternating rhythm of triglyphs and metopes. The upright form of the column with its simple fluting may have in its origin been wood (a sacred tree) with spears (trophies of one's fallen enemies) bound around it.
The part of a building above the columns and below the roof. The entablature has three parts; the architrave, frieze, and pediment.
A half-column attached to a wall.
In ancient Greek mythology, a hideous female demon with snake hair. Medusa was the most famous Gorgon and was capable of turning anyone that looked at her into stone.
Considered to be the matronly order and its etymology suggests captive women (not maidens or virgins). Caryatids are considered to belong to this order. It is more elegant and slender in its proportions than the Doric order and its chief characteristic is the pair of volutes (or curls) in its capital, which suggests the hair of the matron.
A plain or decorated slab on a Doric frieze. It alternates with the triglyphs.
The festival honoring the goddess Athena, warrior goddess of wisdom and the intellect and patroness of the city of Athens. The festival occurred every four years and was characterized by a procession which passed through the city on a sacred way and concluded outside the Parthenon on the Acropolis. It was also celebrated by athletic games and sacrifices of one hundred cattle.
The pediment is the triangular area contained within the peak of a temple's roof. It often contains sculptural ornament narrating events from the lives of the gods.
A peripteral colonnade consists of a single row of columns on all sides. (see peristyle).
A Classical colonnade around a building or courtyard.
The name of the chief architect, designer, and sculptor of the complex of temples on the Acropolis at Athens. He and his workshop are responsible for the exquisite narrative frieze (relief) on the Parthenon as well as the sculpture in the pediment recounting stories of Athena; also the motopes done in relief, and the colossal statue of Athena of ivory and gold within the temple. He worked in the High Classical style employing the contrapposto of Polykleitos.
Polis (poleis, pl.)
Greek independent city-state that may include one main city and satellite towns. Until the creation of the Delian League in the mid 5th century, Greece was a geographical and cultural phenomenon rather than a unified state with the poleis trading with each other and, sometimes, fighting in civil wars. Competition between the Greeks contributed to the popularity of the Olympics and other sporting events, and the drama of individual athletes competing for the glory of themselves, their polis and the gods became a popular subject matter of art.
Porch of Maidens (and caryatids):
The chief decorative feature on the small temple known as the Erechtheion (or Erechtheum) located on the Acropolis at Athens. Caryatids, or columns in the form of women, support the entablature (part of the roof) of the porch. Rather than the traditional symbolic meaning of representing captive slaves, these women are dressed in the Ionic chiton which honors the Athenians relations to their eastern brethren under attack by the Persians and they stand in the festival finery as eternal witnesses to the sacrifices and proceedings of the Panathenaic festival honoring Athena.
The area, or vestibule, before the naos in a Classical period temple.
In Ancient Greece, an open building with a roof supported by row of columns parallel to the back wall.
The upper step of the base or podium of a Classical temple.
A three-grooved panel on a Doric frieze; it alternates with metopes.
A row of arches.
An area in a Roman house around which its principal rooms are organized in a square fashion. The atrium is open to the sky and four pillars support the roof at the opening. An impluvium, or pool, is at the center of the atrium and collects the rain water which is directed there. The purpose of the atrium is to provide light and a kind of air conditioning to the Roman house (especially desirable during the hot Italian summers).
A basilica is a monumental structure which was entered on its long side, had an interior colonnade, and on its two short ends had rounded areas known as an apse. The basilica in Rome was largely a civic structure to conduct business and within the apse to conduct legal courts of justice. The Basilica Ulpia is an example. Later the basilica became adopted and adapted for use as the primary form for the Christian churches (with the addition of a transept making the basilica cruciform in shape).
A coffer is a hollowed-out area in a ceiling (flat or domed) which functions as both a visual decoration or way to "read" the curve of a dome. If done in perspective, creates the illusion that the dome's height is greater than in fact it may be; the other function is to relieve weight. The Pantheon is a good example.
The nickname for the Flavian amphitheater, a large freestanding structure which housed 50,000 fans of the games (hunts, gladiator battles, and executions). It was called the Colosseum because of the nearly 40-foot-tall bronze colossus of Nero which was next to the structure. Nero's pleasure palace had previously been located on this site.
A kind of medium. Color pigments are suspended in pots of hot wax (rather than water, tempera, or oil). The result is a pictorial quality which is remarkably fresh, immediate, and vivid, giving a realistic liveliness to the faces frequently executed for Faiyum mummy portraits when Egypt became part of the Roman empire.
An adjective describing the art of Etrurea, a region north of the Tiber river in Italy. They were the people whose civilization was, for the most part, in the cultural orbit of the Greeks and largely derivative. They were the precursors to the Romans (who were in fact a tribe of Etruscans). They created beautiful tombs whose themes were of the eternal feast and celebrations of the afterlife, they employed the arch in their great city gates and handed this down to the Romans; they also created beautiful, large-scale pottery funerary urns.
A complex of structures in the sacred heart of Rome (known as the Pomerium). There were individual smaller fora within the larger area generally known as the Forum. A forum could consist of colonnaded courts, exedras, include a basilica, temple, and in the case of Trajan, two libraries and a market.
The emperor who ruled in the second century AD and who had an abiding interest in the arts, especially architecture. He is credited with the design of the greatest structure in Rome (for its size, beauty, and proportions) -- the Pantheon. He also designed his own country villa at Tivoli. Hadrian was fond of exploring provocative forms; he gave the world the dramatically conceived interior (as seen in the Pantheon).
A technique of lining the walls, usually of an interior, with thin slabs of marble to create a sumptuous, elegant look.
Means "eye" and is a round opening usually in a dome or apsidal. In the Pantheon, the oculus permits light and fresh air to circulate. Symbolically, at the Pantheon, it is the connection between the earth and the cosmos and was understood to represent the all-seeing eye of Jupiter.
The Pax Romana or "peace of the Romans" also elaborated to the Pax Romana Augustae, or the "peace of Augustus," was the theme of Caesar Augustus' regime. He tried to restore military and civic pride to Rome after a period of weakness. This is best represented on the cuirass or breastplate of the statue Augustus of Prima Porta (13 BCE) which shows how through diplomatic efforts a peace deal was struck with the Parthians (barbarians of Romania) and how they returned an imperial war standard which the Romans had lost in battle to their own great embarrassment. Augustus stressed his political and diplomatic achievements through propaganda over his military achievements. Another example is the Ara Pacis which displays the earth goddess (Tellus) who can abundantly succeed during Augustus' time of peace.
A flat, engaged column or rectangular pier.
Simply means "many colored." Polychromatic, as an adjective, is frequently used to describe color applied to sculpture or the many colors of materials which can comprise a structure.
Roman Republican era (ca. 509 BCE - 27 BCE)
Began with the expulsion of the last Etruscan king and ended with the rule of Caesar Augustus. It was during this era that Rome began to build an empire and the ruling elites became corrupt, ending with revolts and civil wars. The government was ruled by the Senate and, to a lesser extent, the Plebian Assembly.
Roman Imperial era (ca. 27 BCE - 410 CE)
Began with the reforms of Caesar Augustus and ended with the Sack of Rome, although historians debate the exact dates. This era was characterized by the autocracy (absolute power) of the emperors, like Vespasian, who strengthened Rome by patronizing great building projects, such as the Colosseum. On the other hand, other emperors, like Caligula and Nero, weakened Rome by abusing their power for personal gains. It was one of the greatest building booms in the West until modern times, with the emperors able to channel large sums of money to their pet projects for the glory of the Empire and their legacy.
Romulus and Remus:
The legendary founders of Rome. According to legend they were brothers who were reared by a she-wolf once they were orphaned after their father was deposed by their evil uncle. Remus was killed in the efforts of the brothers to revenge their father, while Romulus went on to triumph. Romulus was credited with the founding of the city of Rome and was deified upon his death.
The semi-domed and rounded area at the terminus of a Christian basilica or at the ends of a secular Roman basilica.
The emperor associated with the transition from a pagan to a Christian Roman Empire and the subsequent changes in the arts. Art began to abandon the verisimilitude ("true-likeness" or realism) of the Greek classical heritage in favor of an increase in abstraction and reduction suitable for the increasingly spiritual content of much of the arts in the 4th century AD. Constantine founded the new capital of the Empire in what was formerly Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople (now Istanbul).
A series of underground passageways and chambers most often associated with the Christians who buried their dead there and sometimes used them during the worst persecutions of the sect (under Diocletian) in order to escape or hide from the authorities. Easily carved out of tufa (volcanic stone), the catacombs had a marvelous structural integrity.
A central plan, domed structure, built as a memorial.
Old St. Peter's
The original church and basilica founded by Constantine in Rome to honor the martyred St. Peter, chief of Jesus' disciples and first high priest of the Christians. The church was begun in AD 313 and was the most significant of the Early Christian basilicas. It was torn down in the early 16th century in order to build the grandiose new structure worked on by Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, and others.