Hermes and Dionysus

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Athens, Monuments, The Human Face \\ Hermes and Dionysus


Hermes is taking the new-born Dionysus to the Nymphs to be reared by them. Pausing on his way, he has thrown his mantle over a convenient tree-trunk and leans upon it with the arm that holds the child. In his closed left hand he doubtless carried his herald’s wand; the lost right hand must have held up some object for the entertainment of the little god… In common with almost all sculptors before the time of Alexander, Praxiteles seems to have paid very little attention to the characteristic forms of infancy. But the Hermes is of unapproachable perfection. His symmetrical figure, which looks slender in comparison with the Doryphorus of Polyclitus, is athletic without exaggeration, and is modeled with faultless skill… The head is of the round Attic form, contrasting with the squarer Peloponnesian type; the face a fine oval. The lower part of the forehead between the temples is prominent; the nose not quite straight, but slightly arched at the middle. The whole expression is one of indescribable refinement and radiance. The hair, short and curly, illustrates the possibilities of marble in the treatment of that feature; in place of the wiry appearance of hair in bronze we find here a slight roughness of surface, suggestive of the soft texture of actual hair… Read more on Praxiteles

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