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(also Polyclitus of Argos; Polycleitus), ancient Greek sculptor and art theorist of the late fifth century B.C.
Polyclitus was one of the leading representatives of high classicism. His statues, executed mainly in bronze, have been lost and are known only from copies and from descriptions by writers of antiquity. Two fragments have been preserved from the artist’s canon of proportions. Influenced by Pythagoreanism, Polyclitus sought to substantiate and put into practice the law of ideal proportions, which he expressed as the proportions between various parts of the beautiful, harmoniously formed human body.
The statue Doryphorus (Spear Bearer, c. 440 B.C.) is the embodiment of the sculptor’s artistic principles. The Doryphorus represents a balance between the plastically opposite states of external serenity, hidden movement, and inner tension. Similar principles characterize Polyclitus’ later works, including the Wounded Amazon (c. 440–430 B.C.) and Diadumenos (Youth Wearing a Fillet of Victory, c. 420–410 B.C.). The latter work, which is more free in composition, may have been influenced by Phidias. Polyclitus also produced colossal chryselephantine statues, for example, the one of Hera for the Temple of Hera near Argos.
Possible historical authenticity and mythological idealization are combined so organically in Polyclitus’ work that the actual subject of his statues are unclear in many ways. Some scholars identify the Doryphorus as Achilles and the Diadumenos as Apollo or Paris. Polyclitus had many pupils and followers up to the period of the Roman Empire. Lysippus considered himself to be a student of Polyclitus.
REFERENCESNedovich, D. S. Poliklet. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Miron i Poliklet. [Album. Introductory article by G. Sokolov.] Moscow, 1961.
Lorenz, T. Polyklet. Wiesbaden, 1972.