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Agias of Pharsala, the Pankratist, Son of Agnosios
Agias, Daochos Monument
Artist: Lysippos (active 370 - 300 BCE)
(Greek, active ca. 370-ca. 300 BCE)
Agias of Pharsala, the Pankratist, Son of Agnosios,
ca. 337-333 BCE
Plaster cast from original Pentelic marble copy of original Greek bronze
Archaeological Museum, Delphi
Around 335 BCE at Delphi, Daochos II, tetrarch of Thessaly, erected a monument to honor his ancestors and to pay homage to the god Apollo. The dedication consisted of eight freestanding statues representing several generations of family members arranged on a long marble pedestal, as well as the colossal statue of a seated Apollo. It was within this assembly that the striking figure of Agias stood. A Thessalonian prince who lived during the 5th century BCE, Agias was an accomplished boxer. Originally he would have worn a wreath on his head, signifying victory.
Somewhat distinct stylistically from the other statues of the Daochos monument at Delphi, Agias is the only figure of the nine to have been attributed to the sculptor Lysippos. This attribution is uncertain since the marble Agias of the Delphi group is thought to be a copy after a lost bronze original by Lysippos. Nevertheless, the work exhibits a number of traits characteristic of the artist, whose innovations in anatomical representation distinguished his work from other Greek sculptors of the same period. Exhibiting a high degree of verisimilitude, Lysippan figures are generally tall and slender with smaller heads. These proportions differ from the earlier Polykleitan canon of proportions, and tend toward a more accurate representation of the human form. This is reflected in the sculptor’s minute attention to detail. The gentle indentations that delineate Agias’s powerful calves, for example, are treated with as much care and precision as the gradual swell of his pectoral muscles or the earnest line of his jaw.
One is immediately struck by Agias’s contrapposto stance, in which his right leg supporting his weight. The strong S-curve of his torso creates a double shift in weight, an innovation introduced in the 4th century BCE. Upon closer inspection, the figure conveys a latent physical power that is intentionally held at bay. Perhaps the most arresting aspect of Agias is his convincing three-dimensionality. Historically, freestanding figures were intended to be viewed frontally. Unlike earlier figures, however, Agias maintains the same absolute visual integrity when examined from any angle. (K.A. Schwab)
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Three-dimensional works of art in which images and forms are produced in relief, in intaglio, or in the round. The term refers particularly to art works created by carving or engraving a hard material, by molding or casting a malleable material (which usually then hardens), or by assembling parts to create a three-dimensional object. It is typically used to refer to large or medium-sized objects made of stone, wood, bronze, or another metal. Small objects are typically referred to as "carvings" or another appropriate term. "Sculpture" refers to works that represent tangible beings, objects, or groups of objects, or are abstract works that have defined edges and boundaries and can be measured. As three-dimensional works become more diffused in space or time, or less tangible, use appropriate specific terms, such as "mail art" or "environmental art."
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