Hermes Carrying The Infant Dionysis

This essay has a total of 1445 words and 7 pages.

Hermes Carrying The Infant Dionysis


Sculpture has been a very important part of art history throughout thousands of years. For
the past few months I have viewed many different kinds of sculpture, including Greek
archaic sculptures, Greek classical sculptures, Greek Hellenistic sculptures and Roman
sculptures. All of the sculptures that I have seen and analyzed have very interesting
characteristics, but the one that I have analyzed most recently was the most fascinating.
Hermes carrying the infant Dionysos, by the artist Praxiteles, was sculpted circa 350
B.C., and the copy that I analyzed, circa second century B.C. This sculpture was from the
Greek classical period and is originally from Greece. The original can be seen in the
Olympia Museum in Greece, and the replica that I have viewed is in the Sojourner Truth
Library on SUNY New Paltz campus.


The sculpture of Hermes carrying the infant Dionysos was a very interesting work of art to
look at and analyze. I have viewed this sculpture by means of slides on a flat surface,
but after seeing the actual sculpture, I was amazed. When I first approached it, its size
was shocking. I was unaware that this figure stood so tall. Hermes and Dionysos together
were approximately seven to seven and a half feet tall, and approximately three feet wide,
including the base that Hermes was standing on.


As most of Praxiteles' sculptures were, this sculpture was originally made of marble, but
the copy viewed was made of plaster cast. Hermes posture was rather relaxed, with one arm
reaching upward, and the other arm bent at the elbow, holding Dionysos. The clothing worn
by Hermes and Dionysos was scarce. Both were nude, which was typical during this time
period, and Praxiteles was actually the "inventor" of creating nude sculptures. Although
the two figures are nude, Hermes is wearing sandals, and the drapery is partially covering
Dionysos' legs. Hermes hairstyle is short, curly and unfinished looking, while Dionysos'
hair is very vague.


Finally, the physical condition of the sculpture is remarkably decent-looking, considering
it's age. Hermes is missing pieces of his body, such as his right arm after his bicep, the
left index finger and thumb, and his penis. Hermes' big toe is chipped, and there are
chips and scratches sporadically throughout his body that have been painted over. His left
arm and hand seem to have been detached and reattached again as well. As for Dionysos, he
is in very good condition except for his left hand, which is missing.


From an artist's perspective, many other components were considered while viewing this
work of art. One of those components was composition. In relation to each other, Hermes is
very large while Dionysos is significantly smaller. In relation to the air that surrounds
them, the sculpture is well balanced, and is pleasant to the eye. Another component is
line. The line in this sculpture is very painterly, except for the drapery, which is very
linear. Throughout the body of Hermes a painterly line is very evident. For example, in
his torso, the muscles can be seen but they are soft and almost created by shadow. In the
drapery, the line is sharp and it is obvious where the folds are. On Dionysos' legs,
contour folds are also evident and give the effect that his legs are underneath the
drapery, although you cannot see them.


Form is the third component. The body of Hermes has very subtle form because of how
painterly the line is. Form is only direct in the drapery, which has a three-dimensional
effect. As for figural style, Hermes' body is anatomically correct, proportionate and
muscular. The only thing that does not seem proportionate is Hermes' body as opposed to
Dionysos. The texture of this sculpture is smooth except for the few sporadic chips, and
there is no color, only the use of shadow.


The final component, movement, is very effectively done. Hermes is in a contrapposto
stance with one leg forward and bent at the knee, and the right hip is higher than the
left. His entire body is in an "s" shape curve, which is because his head is facing left,
his right hip is raised and the left one is lowered, and his left leg is forward. This
curve is a very effective way to bring the viewer's eye from the top of the sculpture to
the bottom. The fact that Hermes is looking at Dionysos, and then Hermes' left arm is
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