Greek Hellenistic Sculpture

The Hellenistic period (323 BCE-31 BCE) was one of the most fertile in Greek history. Its canonical dates stretch from the death of Alexander the Great, under whose influence Greek culture and civilization spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, to the decisive Battle of Actium.

The nearly two centuries that comprise this remarkable era were distinguished by new patterns of migration and settlement, as native Greeks relocated to the Empire's new strongholds in Alexandria and Antioch (Egypt and Syria). These population shifts catalyzed a fusion of foreign artistic representations and techniques with indigenous traditions and practices both in Greece and abroad. It is for that reason that Hellenistic influences and vestiges of Greek culture could be found as far to the east as northern ancient India (Afganistan and northern India today).

During the Hellenistic period, artists explored human emotions and states of consciousness, with works ranging from the starkly realistic to the grandly theatrical. Large dedications, often sponsored by individuals or kings, reflect these new trends, as do masterpieces such as as the Lykosoura monument, the Great Altar at Pergamon, the Lesser Attalid Dedication, and the Nike of Samothrace; all of which are remarkable for their expressiveness and enduring fame.

 

Gaul or Giant
150 BCE
From the Lesser Attalid Dedication, Athens
Plaster cast from a Roman copy of the original Greek marble, in Venice, Italy
29 x 19 x 8 1/2 inches (73.7 x 48.3 x 21.6 cm)
Gift of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004

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Damophon (Greek, active early 2nd C. BCE)
Lykosoura Drapery
early 2nd C. BCE
From the Colossal Cult Statue Group at Lykosoura
Plaster cast from original marble in the National Archaeological Museum (No. 1737), Athens
50 x 20 3/8 x 12 5/8 inches (127 x 51.8 x 32.1cm)
Gift of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004

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The Winged Victory of Samothrace
ca. 190 BCE
Plaster cast from original marble in the Louvre, Paris
91 x 50 x 20 inches (231.1 x 127 x 50.8 cm)
Lent by Yale University (L1996.2)

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Hanging Marsyas
ca. 200-150 BCE
Plaster cast from Roman marble copy of Greek
original in Berlin
36 1/2 x 16 x 12 inches (92.7 x 40.6 x 30.5 cm)
Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1991.25a)

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Greek Hellenistic plaster

Scythian Knife-grinder
ca. 200-150 BCE
Plaster cast from Roman marble copy of Greek
original in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
44 x 20 1/2 x 47 inches (111.8 x 52.1 x119.4 cm)
Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1991.25b)

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Greek Hellenistic plaster

Head of Selene
ca. 180 BCE
From the the Great Altar at Pergamon
Plaster cast from original marble in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin
27 x 30 x 14 inches (68.6 x 76.2 x 35.6 cm)
Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1991.24)

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Torso and Horse of Selene
ca. 180 BCE
From the the Great Altar at Pergamon
Plaster cast from original marble in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin
47 x 42 x 19 inches (119.4 x 106.7 x 48.3 cm)
Gift of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004

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Mattei Ceres (Demeter)
3rd C. BCE
Plaster cast from original marble in the Vatican Galleria dei Candelabri, Rome
43 1/2 x 14 x 10 inches (110.5 x 35.6 x 26.7 cm)
Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1991.23)

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Metrodoros the Philosopher
3rd C. BCE
Plaster cast from the Parian marble Roman Hadrianic copy found in Athens, based on Hellenistic original National Archaeological Museum (no. 368), Athens
22 x 16 x 11 inches (55.9 x 40.6 x 27.9 cm)
Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1991.26)

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The Plaster Cast Collection