diadoumenos

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Terracotta Statuette of the Diadoumenos (youth tying a fillet around his head)

This statue made of Terracota, which is a type of clay, was created in the first century B.C.E. and is considered a Hellenistic sculpture. Due to it being made after both the Archaic and Classical Ages, the advancements are evident in the form of the sculpture. Though it retains the contrapposto and s curve from Polykleitos’ canon of proportions, the sculpting of muscles is a bit more realistic and less idealized. For example, the abs are defined, the biceps are flexed as if in motion, and the pectorals are toned, but none of them are overemphasized. Keeping it in consideration that this is a sculpture of a youth, perhaps this body image is still considered ideal, but a little more attainable. On a similar thread, the protruding Vs in the lower torso somewhat reflect the curve in the knees, but the repetition is not as exact as in the Kouros. In this way, the symmetry is not as strong, neither horizontally nor vertically.
In this sculpture, the typical foot forward, stiff, frontal, rigid stance is not seen, alluding to the importance of natural movement. It is not about geometry anymore; instead, the focus has shifted towards the naturalistic depiction of common people. To corroborate, the hair is stuck to the head and the grooves and indentions make it seem more lifelike. The face bends down and reveals a somber human emotion, lips pursed and eyes downcast. The subject seems to be deep in thought, which is a step up from the archaic smile and blank expression that previous statues had. In conclusion, the action of tying a fillet around the youth’s head is embodied in the natural curve of the body and the tensed arm muscles, which provides evidence into the advancement of Greek statuary from Archaic to Classical to Hellenistic.

Hemingway, Colette, and Seán Hemingway. “Art of the Hellenistic Age and the Hellenistic Tradition.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/haht/hd_haht.htm (April 2007)

Diadoumenos (”youth binding a fillet round his hair”) by Polykleitos

This sculpture is a Roman Copy of the original Greek statue Diadoumenos, dating back to 430 B.C.E., in the High Classical Period. The statue was originally made of bronze, but the Roman replica shines in marble. You can tell that this is a Roman copy because of the branch-designed marble support on the right leg.

The statue itself is unbalanced in nature. While the weight appears to be unevenly distributed between the legs, Diadoumenos’ body curves in a sort of “S” shape, depicting contrapposto in the relaxed hip and spatial freedom shown in his stance, with his right foot in front of the other, as if he were in motion. His hipbones are high, displaying muscular love handles, and his abdomen is defined and muscular, with his ribcage slightly poking out at his sides. His arms, on the other hand, boast relatively large biceps, but his muscular legs and shapely knees imply that Diadoumenos was more of a runner. In this photograph of the sculpture, Diadoumenos’ arms are broken off at the wrists, so it is not known what his arms are raised for, but in other sculpture copies, Diadoumenos is shown holding the end of the ribbon tied around his hair.

Lastly, what made this sculpture stand out the most to me was Diadoumenos’ downcast eyes. It is not clear what he is looking at exactly, but the fact that he is not looking outward gives his eyes an image of pain, where he is either too focused, or too saddened for an unknown intriguing reason to feast his eyes upon that of the audience.

Pedley, John Griffiths. Greek Art and Archaeology. Third ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002.