Greek Sculpture: Its Spirit and Principles

By Edmund Von Mach | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
MATERIAL, TECHNIQUE, DESTRUCTIVE FORCES, EARLY IGNORANCE, AND SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE

The material of Greek sculpture was largely either bronze or stone. It is now well known that in later years bronze was far more extensively used than marble; but in the beginning the Greeks probably turned more readily to stone, and in the very beginning, perhaps, to wood. The Greek climate is less clement than the Egyptian, so that no wood sculptures have been preserved. On the mainland of Greece and especially in Athens the artists used soft local stones, "tufa" or "poros," which were easily carved and offered few obstacles to the unskilled hand. Later a harder stone, generally marble, was used. Parian and Naxian marble were the first to enjoy general popularity, until they were largely superseded in the fifth century by the Pentelic marble, at least for Athenian use. The neighboring Mt. Hymettos, also near Athens, offered another very acceptable but somewhat bluish marble. In whiteness none of the Greek marbles can compare with the beautiful product from Carrara, which was not known to the ancients before Roman imperial times.

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