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- Author Polykleitos of Argos
- Date of production 19th century (original: 440 BC)
- Place of discovery Pompeii, Italy
- Dimensions height: 1.98 m (original: 2.12 m)
- ID no. Rz 29
- Availability Main building of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków
- Acquired date 1818, purchased from the Martin company in Vienna
- Object copyright Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Virtual Małopolska project
A statue of a young man carrying a spear (gr. Δορυφόρος, Doryphoros) was found in Pompeii in front of the entrance to the so-called Samnite Palaestra in 1797. The statue is made of Carrara marble and originally stood on a pedestal made of volcanic tuff. It dates back to the 2nd or 1st century BC and is a copy of a lost bronze original made by Polykleitos in the 5th century BC. The statue from Pompeii in Naples (Museo Nazionale, inv. No. 6011) is considered the most complete copy of the classic sculpture.more
A statue of a young man carrying a spear (gr. Δορυφόρος, Doryphoros) was found in Pompeii in front of the entrance to the so-called Samnite Palaestra in 1797. The statue is made of Carrara marble and originally stood on a pedestal made of volcanic tuff. It dates back to the 2nd or 1st century BC and is a copy of a lost bronze original made by Polykleitos in the 5th century BC. The statue from Pompeii in Naples (Museo Nazionale, inv. No. 6011) is considered the most complete copy of the classic sculpture.
The statue depicts a naked, athletic man standing contrapposto, his right hand is lowered by the side of his body, and his left hand – bent at the elbow – originally held the spear, supporting it on his shoulder. Next to his right leg, there is a support in the shape of a tree trunk.
The plaster cast of Doryphoros is perhaps one of the first casts purchased for the needs of the art school in Kraków. In 1818, in Vienna, Józef Brodowski purchased various sculptures for the sum of 2,000 PLN. As a result of this transaction, in addition to Doryphoros, statues of Venus, Apollo, Laocoön, Hercules and the busts of Cicero, Commodus and Caracalla found their way to Kraków. It cannot be ruled out, however, that the plaster cast, preserved to this day at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, was purchased at a later time or made by university staff and students based on a previously purchased plaster copy.
Doryphoros, made in the 5th century BC by Polykleitos of Argos, was especially significant with regard to the process of learning classical Greek aesthetics. It is believed that this statue is a perfect embodiment of Polykleitos’ concept of the proportion of the human body enclosed by him in a treatise that has not survived, entitled Canon (gr. Κανών - measure, formula, rule): the human foot should equal 1/6 of the body height, the head – 1/8, palm – 1/10. All these quantities were, in turn, a multiple of a module equal to the length of a finger.
Some researchers have sought a link between the Canon and Pythagorean mathematics, which considered numbers as geometric units and beauty as relationships between elements of a whole. Considering the fact that Polykleitos’ treatise hasn’t survived, it is not known what his concept looked like in detail. Nonetheless, apart from the trends originating from Plato, Greek aesthetics believed that beauty is a matter of number: the proportion between compositional elements. The search for the perfect proportions of the human body was not limited to Polykleitos’concept. In the 4th century BC, Lysippos created a new ideal for the structure of the human body, that posited its more slender proportions. The sculptor allegedly believed that, until then, art represented people as they were and his concept would show what they should look like.
Elaborated by Adam Spodaryk (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.