A Brief Review Of Greek Sculpture
by EvAngelos Frudakis


Editor’s note: This scholarly overview is offered to assist readers on museum sojourns and as an introduction to further, personal inquiry into this seminal period of the history of sculpture.

Greek sculpture owes its development and its excellence to the strong traditions established by the early sculptors of the Archaic period. Each generation added to the general growth of knowledge, skills and techniques. Greek sculptors, through their art and by teaching relatives and pupils, would influence a larger group of artists.

Although styles and innovations changed, the traditions that were established would continue from generation to generation. Periodic revivals would occur, where artists would return to the fountainhead of the 5th-4th Century.


Ageladas of Argos
Late Archaic Phase, 510-480 BC.

Myron of Eleutherai —
Early Classical Period, 480-450 BC.

Pheidias of Athens
High Classical Period, 450-400 BC.

PolyKleitos of Argos
High Classical Period, 450-400 BC.

Praxiteles of Athens
Fourth Century, 370-330 BC.

Skopas of Paros
Fourth Century, 353 BC.

Lysippos of Sikyon —
Fourth Century, 370-305 BC.

School of Lysippos
Early Hellenistic Phase, 296 BC.

School of Pergamon
Middle Hellenistic Phase, 250-150 BC.

School of Rhodes
Classicism and later Hellenistic, 175-31 BC.

Neo Attic Sculptors
Sculptors of the Late
Archaic Period —
510-480 BC.

Agelados of Argos
We have no record of the quality of his work. It is known that he did a variety of statues of Athletes and Gods. His fame seems to rest largely in that he was the teacher of three great sculptors of the Classical Period: Myron, Pheidias and Polykleitor.

Myron of Eleutherai
...was renowned for his discus thrower and his famous statue of a heifer. His work moved toward realism but with strong emphasis on composition and design. His work had a flow and rhythm with a good deal of action.

High Classical Period —
450-400 BC.

Pheidias of Athens
...was a general supervisor of the Art Activities in Athens at the time of Pericles. The Parthenon, with its cult statue in gold and ivory of Athena, a colossus 42 feet in height, were his main activities. Sometime later he was to create his most famous statue of Zeus at Olympia. His work was supreme and majestic. Pheidias’s creations came from his idealism and imagination (phantasia). His brother, Panainos the painter, would aid him in various projects. Pheidias also had three outstanding disciples who served him well: Alkamenes, Agorakritos and Koletes. Kresilas (from Crete), Pheidias’ contemporary, created the portrait of Pericles.

PolyKleitos of Argos
...was also of the High Classical Period. His most noted works were of young male Athletes. The Doryphoros (spear-bearer), a statue of a virile youth, was perhaps the basis of his Canon (treatise). This had to do with commensurate proportions, all interrelated by measure to create the perfect male figure. Polykeitos made many statues of victorious Athletes. He also created a gold and ivory statue of Hera. In his later works, the male youth became somewhat softer and more slender. Polykleitos’s nephews, Naukydes, Daidalos, and Polykleitos the younger, were distinguished sculptors. Polykeitos also had many disciples.

Fourth Century —
370-330 BC.

Praxiteles of Athens
...was the son of the sculptor Kephisodotos, who created the Eirene and Ploutos. Praxiteles worked in bronze and marble. His forms were very soft (Sfumato) and sensuous in treatment. The marble of Aphrodite of Knidos was highly valued. Phryne, his mistress, served as his model for this statue and a number of other works. The Hermes carrying the infant Dionysos, which is in Olympia, gives a good account of his style. By Praxiteles’s own judgment, his Eros and Satyr were his favorite works of art. Praxiteles moved closer to realism with a more subjective point of view. He created statues of many gods and goddesses. Praxiteles’s sons, Kephisodotos II and Timarchos, are best known for their portrait sculpture. He also had many disciples.

Skopas of Paros
...was a son of the sculptor Aristandros, who was a disciple of Polykeitos. Skopas was both architect and major sculptor. His fame rivaled that of Praxiteles. Skopas was one of the five sculptors who worked on the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos; the other sculptors were Bryaxis, Temotheos, Leochares and Pythis. Their combined efforts were extraordinary, which resulted in the Mausoleum being included as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Skopas made an Aphrodite, a Pothos (yearning), an Apollo, and a seated Hestia. Skopas created a colossal seated Ares; he also designed the temple of Athena Alea in Tegea with its pediment sculptures, a statue of Asklepios and Hygieia carved in pentelic marbles.

Lysippos of Sikyon
...was the court sculptor of Philip II and Alexander the Great. As a younger contemporary of Praxiteles and Skopas, he was one of the creators of the Hellenistic period of Art.

Lysippos believed that nature , not another artists’ work, was his model. On one hand he was a naturist, and on the other, he was devoted to the idea of a Canon of proportions by Polykleitos. Lysippos gave his figures smaller heads and more slender bodies, giving greater height and elegance to his work, The head became 1\8 of the total height of the figure, where it had been 1\7. The bodies were more tightly knit. He observed the tradition of symmetria with great care. Of his classical phase, the statue of the Apoxyomenos (scraper) and his Eros are fine examples. Lysippos had a strong sense of tradition, but he was also an innovator. He manipulated scale for its effects and also brought back colossal scale in sculpture. Two of his known sculptures were Herakles and Zeus at Tarentum. Other works were Herakles (Farnese type) and Herakles, Epitrapezios (table).

He made portrait sculpture more personalized without sacrificing character. Just a few examples are the portraits of Alexander the Great, Aristotle, and Socrates. Lysippos had a fondness for allegory, symbolism and personification, as shown in his Kairos (opportunity). This sculpture of Kairos expresses Lysippos’s personal credo: His art dealt with temporal and ephemeral (things as they appear) whereas his predecessors dealt with timeless essence (things as they are).

Lysippos’s brother, Lysistratos, was the first to take a body cast from man. Lysippos’s sons, Euthykrates, Boedos, and Daippos, were his pupils. He has a strong following of disciples including Teisikrates and Phonin. Xenocrates, the writer, was a student of his son Euthykrates. Eutychides created the statue of Tyche (fortune). Chares of Lindos made the Colossus of Rhodes. Diodalsas of Bithymia made a crouching Aphrodite.

Middle Hellenistic Period —
250-150 BC.

The Pergamou School
Attalos was the ruler who commissioned three major groups of sculpture to commemorate the defeat of the invading Gauls. The first group was of a dying Gaul and his wife. The second group represented Persians, Amazons and Gauls. The last was of a dying trumpeter. The sculptors were Stratonikos, Phyromachos, Epigonos and Antigons, who wrote volumes about his work. Epigonos, was the most celebrated; he has been credited with sculpting the dying trumpeter (dying Gaul).

During the rule of Eumenos II (197-159 BC), the Great Altar of Zeus was created by about forty sculptors. Fifteen who worked on this remarkable project have been identified. The most significant sculptors were Therrhetos, Menekrates, Nikeratos, and Pythokritos. Phythokritos also created the famous Nike of Samothace.

School of Rhodes
Two groups of statues, the Laocöön and the Sperlonga Shipwreck, were made by Hagesandros, Athenodoros and Polydoros. Another group, the “Farnese Bull” depicting Zethon, Amphion, and Dirke, was made by the brothers, Apollonios and Tauriskos of Tralles. Another sculptor of this period was Boethos, who made children well; one of his better known works is the boy strangling a goose.

The Rise of Classicism and
the late Hellenistic Period —
175-31 BC.

Damophon of Messene made a cult group (the original still exists in fragments) of statues for the sanctuary of Despoina at Lykosoura; this sculptor is also credited for repairs made on the famous gold and ivory cult statue of Zeus by Pheidias.

Pasiteles from southern Italy was a writer, silversmith and sculptor. He was part of the Neo Attic group of sculptors. The going rage among Roman collectors of art was seeking the old masters, Pheidias and Polkleitos. Workshops in Italy created new works in the old style of the 5th Century.

Eukleides created a colossal head of Zeus. Aigeira, Polykles, Timokles, Timarchides and Dionysos were sculptors related to each other: father, sons and grandson.



Myron - softened hard, early forms

PolyKeitos - perfected the male form

Pheidias - represents the supreme achievement of Greek Art

Praxiteles - mastered realism

Lysippos - mastered realism

Epigonos - known for stylistic devices — Hellenitstic baroque

Demetrios - blamed for carrying realism too far. Founder of a style based on similitude rather than beauty.

Pheidias, Praxiteles and Skopas were sculptors of Gods

Myron, Lysippos, and Poly Kleitos were sculptors of Men

The activities of Praxiteles, Skopas and Euphranor would end by the 330 BC. Leochares was mid-life, but Lysippos, still a young man, was the last great master of the 4th century.

Lysippos, through his follower, Hagesandros Athenodoros and Polydoros (who created the Laocöön) and Apollonios of Athens (creator of the Belvedere torso) directly influenced Michealangelo, as he acknowledged in his own writing. 

EvAngelos is one of America’s significant sculptors. Two of his best known works are “The Signer,” Independence Hall, Philadelphia, and “The Minuteman,” National Guard Building, Washington D.C.

Copyright © ART Ideas. All rights reserved.