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Lysippos was a Greek sculptor
Ancient Greek sculpture
Ancient Greek sculpture is the sculpture of Ancient Greece. Modern scholarship identifies three major stages. They were used to depict the battles, mythology, and rulers of the land known as Ancient Greece.-Geometric:...

 of the 4th century BC. Together with Scopas
Scopas or Skopas was an Ancient Greek sculptor and architect, born on the island of Paros. Scopas worked with Praxiteles, and he sculpted parts of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, especially the reliefs. He led the building of the new temple of Athena Alea at Tegea...

 and Praxiteles
Praxiteles of Athens, the son of Cephisodotus the Elder, was the most renowned of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century BC. He was the first to sculpt the nude female form in a life-size statue...

, he is considered one of the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 era, bringing transition into the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

. Problems confront the study of Lysippos because of the difficulty of identifying his style amongst the copies which survive. Not only did he have a large workshop and a large number of disciples in his immediate circle, but also there is understood to have been a market for replicas of his work which was supplied also from outside his circle already in his own lifetime and also later in the Hellenistic and Roman
Roman sculpture
The study of ancient Roman sculpture is complicated by its relation to Greek sculpture. Many examples of even the most famous Greek sculptures, such as the Apollo Belvedere and Barberini Faun, are known only from Roman Imperial or Hellenistic "copies." At one time, this imitation was taken by art...


Career and legacy

Lysippos was successor in contemporary repute to the famous sculptor Polykleitos
Polykleitos ; called the Elder, was a Greek sculptor in bronze of the fifth and the early 4th century BCE...

. Among the works attributed to him are the so-called Horses of Saint Mark
Horses of Saint Mark
The Triumphal Quadriga or Horses of St Mark's is a set of bronze statues of four horses, originally part of a monument depicting a quadriga , which have been set into the facade of St Mark's Basilica in Venice, northern Italy, since the 13th century.-Origins:The sculptures date from late classical...

, Eros Stringing the Bow (of which various copies exist, the best in the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

), Agias (known through the marble copy found and preserved in Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

), the similar Oil Pourer
Oil Pourer
The Oil Pourer is a lost Greek bronze of an athlete variously associated with the circle of Lysippos, c. 340-330 BCE, of which Roman marble copies exist, notably in the Glyptothek, Munich and in the Albertinum, Dresden. Another well-known Roman replica is conserved at Petworth House...

Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

 and Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

), the Farnese Hercules
Farnese Hercules
The Farnese Hercules is an ancient sculpture, probably an enlarged copy made in the early third century AD and signed by a certain Glykon, from an original by Lysippos that would have been made in the fourth century BC...

 (which was originally placed in the Baths of Caracalla
Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy were Roman public baths, or thermae, built in Rome between AD 212 and 216, during the reign of the Emperor Caracalla.- History :...

, although the surviving marble copy lies in the Naples National Archaeological Museum
Naples National Archaeological Museum
The Naples National Archaeological Museum is a museum in Naples, southern Italy, at the northwest corner of the original Greek wall of the city of Neapolis. The museum contains a large collection of Roman artifacts from Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum...

) and Apoxyomenos
Apoxyomenos is one of the conventional subjects of ancient Greek votive sculpture; it represents an athlete, caught in the familiar act of scraping sweat and dust from his body with the small curved instrument that the Romans called a strigil....

 (or The Scraper, known from a Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 marble copy in the Vatican Museums
Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums , in Viale Vaticano in Rome, inside the Vatican City, are among the greatest museums in the world, since they display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries, including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and...


Born at Sicyon
Sikyon was an ancient Greek city situated in the northern Peloponnesus between Corinth and Achaea on the territory of the present-day prefecture of Corinthia...

 around 390 BC Lysippos was a worker in bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 in his youth. He taught himself the art of sculpture, later becoming head of the school of Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

 and Sicyon. According to Pliny, he produced more than 1,500 works, all of them in bronze. Commentators noted his grace and elegance, and the symmetria or coherent balance of his figures, which were leaner than the ideal represented by Polykleitos and with proportionately smaller heads, giving them the impression of greater height. He was famous for his attention to the details of eyelids and toenails.

His pupil, Chares of Lindos
Chares of Lindos
Chares of Lindos was a Greek sculptor born on the island of Rhodes. He was a pupil of Lysippus....

, constructed the Colossus of Rhodes
Colossus of Rhodes
The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek Titan Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes on the Greek island of Rhodes by Chares of Lindos between 292 and 280 BC. It is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was constructed to celebrate Rhodes' victory over the ruler of...

, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The Seven Wonders of the World refers to remarkable constructions of classical antiquity listed by various authors in guidebooks popular among the ancient Hellenic tourists, particularly in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC...

. As this statue does not exist today, debate continues as to whether its sections were cast in bronze or hammered of sheet bronze.

Lysippos and Alexander

During his lifetime, Lysippos was personal sculptor to Alexander the Great; indeed, he was the only artist whom the conqueror saw fit to represent him. A recently-discovered epigram of Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian Poseidippus, in the anthology
An anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts...

 represented in the Milan Papyrus
Milan Papyrus
The Milan Papyrus is a papyrus roll inscribed in Alexandria in the late 3rd or early 2nd century BC during the rule of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Originally discovered by anonymous tomb raiders as part of a mummy wrapping, it was purchased in the papyrus "grey market" in Europe in 1992 by the...

, takes as its inspiration a bronze portrait of Alexander:
Lysippos, Sicyonian sculptor, daring hand, learned artisan,
your bronze statue has the look of fire in its eyes,
that one you made in the form of Alexander. The Persians
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

no blame. We forgive cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 for fleeing a lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...


Lysippus has been credited with the stock representation of an inspired, godlike Alexander with tousled hair and lips parted, looking upward. One fine example, an early Imperial Roman copy found at Tivoli
Tivoli, Italy
Tivoli , the classical Tibur, is an ancient Italian town in Lazio, about 30 km east-north-east of Rome, at the falls of the Aniene river where it issues from the Sabine hills...

, is conserved at the Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...


Discovery of possible original statue of Alexander

On 26 February 2010, Greek authorities arrested two men found in illegal possession of various antiquities, including a bronze statue of Alexander, which is possibly a work of Lysippos. If confirmed, this would make it the first original work of Lysippos ever discovered. The statue is currently being examined at the laboratory of the Archaeological Museum of Salonica, which is expected to confirm or deny its authenticity.

See also

  • Lysistratus
    Lysistratus was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC, brother of Lysippus of Sicyon. We are told by Pliny the Elder that he followed a strongly realistic line, being the first sculptor to take impressions of human faces in plaster....

     - another Greek sculptor
  • Victorious Youth
    Victorious Youth
    The Victorious Youth, referred to in Italian sources as the Atleta di Fano, is a Greek bronze sculpture, made between 300 and 100 BCE, in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California...

    - a bronze sculpture attributed to Lysippos.

Further reading

  • Gardner, P. 1905. ‘The Apoxymenos of Lysippos’, JHS 25:234-59.
  • Serwint, N. 1996. ‘Lysippos’, in The Dictionary of Art vol. 19: 852–54.
  • Stewart, A.F. 1983. ‘Lysippos and Hellenistic sculpture’, AJA 87:262.
  • Vermeule, C.C. 1975. ‘The weary Herakles of Lysippos’, AJA 79:323–32.

External links