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Chryselephantine Statuary in the Ancient Mediterranean World

Chryselephantine Statuary in the Ancient Mediterranean World

Hardback Oxford Monographs on Classical Archaeology

By (author) Kenneth D.S. Lapatin

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 340 pages
  • Dimensions: 226mm x 286mm x 27mm | 1,427g
  • Publication date: 1 January 2002
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0198153112
  • ISBN 13: 9780198153115
  • Illustrations note: 14 colour plates, numerous halftone plates and line illustrations

Product description

Composite statues of gold (chrysos), ivory (elephas), and other precious materials were the most celebrated artworks of classical antiquity. Greek and Latin authors leave no doubt that such images provided a centrepiece for religious and civic life and that vast sums were spent to produce them. A number of these statues were the creations of antiquity's most highly acclaimed artists: Polykleitos, Alkamenes, Leochares, and, of course, Pheidias, whose magnificent Zeus Olympios came to be ranked among the Seven Wonders of the World. Although a few individual images such as Pheidias' Athena Parthenos have been the subject of detailed scholarly analysis, chryselephantine statuary as a class, from the exquisite statuettes of Minoan Crete to the majestic temple images constructed by classical Greek city-states and imitated by the Romans, has not received comprehensive study since 1815. This book presents not only the ancient literary and epigraphical evidence for lost statues and examines representations of them in other media, but also assembles and analyses much-neglected physical survivals, elucidating throughout the innovative techniques, such as ivory-bending, employed in their production as well as the variety of social, religious, and political roles they played within the ancient societies that produced them.

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Author information

Assistant Professor of Art History, Boston University

Review quote

A catalogue of fifty-one examples which, while it will not revolutionize the history of ancient art, will put all its historians in his [Lapatin's] debt ... Today's students will rejoice in his forty pages of testimonia in both the original language and translation. But perhaps the most interesting of Lapatin's appendices are his inventories of statues mentioned or described in antiquity and here classified by site, subject and period ... It is not the benefits of autopsy but the virtues of candour and clear-headedness that set this book apart from other works on ivory and colour. Anthony Cutler, Times Literary Supplement Useful for the general reader as well as the specialist ... The text is supported by abundant illustrations, which alone make an important contribution ... a thoroughly researched study, which is well organized and presented ... This volume will likely become a standard handbook in ancient sculpture and classical archaeology. Bryn Mawr Classical Review Excellent ... It is hard to imagine the job of presenting all this material being better done or more competently arranged; this volume will not only last for a good many years as the fundamental work in its particular field, but its re-ignition of the specific significance of chryselephantine statuary for the wider arena of the study of Greek sculpture gives us pause for thought and is a spur to revising old assumptions. Apollo Magazine