Greek Sculpture: Its Spirit and Principles

By Edmund Von Mach | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
GREEK RELIEF SCULPTURE IN ITS RELATION TO ARCHITECTURE; RELIEFS ON ROUNDED SURFACES

The relation of Greek relief sculpture to architecture is of the closest. In the Parthenon frieze the artists never forgot that their figures were seen as carved on the temple walls. Moving figures are readily imagined as passing by a solid wall; trees or other indications of landscape are out of place. A few large stepping-stones, ( West Frieze, page 60), which in the absence of stirrups in ancient times were used to mount on horseback, are introduced, but they do not disturb the uniformity of the conception. The close adherence to such limitations of design imposes great restrictions upon the sculptors; for while they must refrain from filling occasional gaps with trees, houses, and the like, they must also design the very ground upon which the figures move as perfectly plane. No unevenness of territory can be permitted to bring variety into the grouping; whatever variety there is must be given by the figures themselves.

The sculptors of the Parthenon seem to have accepted these laws as binding principles. Once or twice,

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