Face of Alexander the Great

Discuss the culture of Alexander's world and his image in art

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robbie
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Face of Alexander the Great

Post by robbie »

Hi

I want to share this pic with you - I think it's a copy of an original painting by Appelles. I should think that it's the closest we can get to producing a more than plausible likeness of they young macedonian conquerer's face. Added to which, I think it displays an uncanny, striking resemblance to the famous and generally agreed upon authentic portrayal of the Alexander bust by Lysippos. What do you guys think?

Appelles painting
Appelles painting
IMG_1217.JPG (90.25 KiB) Viewed 8789 times

Lysippos bust
Lysippos bust
images.jpg (7.05 KiB) Viewed 8789 times

And a special treat for you guys... check out this great link, and when you do, scroll down slowly and you'll see something awesome ;-)

http://artofkaren.blogspot.se/2006_10_01_archive.html


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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by marcus »

robbie wrote: And a special treat for you guys... check out this great link, and when you do, scroll down slowly and you'll see something awesome ;-)

http://artofkaren.blogspot.se/2006_10_01_archive.html
Hi Robbie - yes, I thought she did quite a good job of that.
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by robbie »

Hey Marcus!

How are you? Yes, that pic blew my mind; I imagine that's how he looked, more or less...
I can also imagine that he had very unique looks, very striking, very dashing...


1.What did you think of the Appelles painting?

2. The sources mention something about his eyes, no? That they were watery, sensual, and how they at the drop of a hat could turn from a dreamy gaze to a steely and riveting look..?? The man was incredible....


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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by marcus »

robbie wrote:Hey Marcus!

How are you? Yes, that pic blew my mind; I imagine that's how he looked, more or less...
I can also imagine that he had very unique looks, very striking, very dashing...


1.What did you think of the Appelles painting?

2. The sources mention something about his eyes, no? That they were watery, sensual, and how they at the drop of a hat could turn from a dreamy gaze to a steely and riveting look..?? The man was incredible....


Rob
The Appelles painting is pretty cool, I have to say, although I'd rather have the chance to see the original! :D

Yes, it's Plutarch who makes the comments about his eyes, although the business of them being different colours is, if I recall correctly, only in the Romance. The heterochromia business has cropped up a few times on Pothos.
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by robbie »

OK, Marcus, thanks.

How many busts of Alexander did Lysippos do? Known, I mean.
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

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robbie wrote:OK, Marcus, thanks.

How many busts of Alexander did Lysippos do? Known, I mean.
No idea. I don't think it's known by anyone.

:)
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

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robbie wrote:How many busts of Alexander did Lysippos do? Known, I mean.
I don't think we know of any specific busts (Marcus is right about that), but there is ancient testimony of at least five sculptures or sculptural groups attributed to Lysippus and depicting Alexander the Great:

Alexander on horseback (reported in Caesar’s Forum in Rome around AD90)
Alexander with the lance (the most famous work by Lysippus - probably the archetype for many surviving ancient sculptures of Alexander)
Alexander as a youth (the one that Nero had gilded)
Alexander rescued by Craterus whilst hunting lions in Syria
Alexander and the thirty-four Companions who fell at the Granicus

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by marcus »

Taphoi wrote:
robbie wrote:How many busts of Alexander did Lysippos do? Known, I mean.
I don't think we know of any specific busts (Marcus is right about that), but there is ancient testimony of at least five sculptures or sculptural groups attributed to Lysippus and depicting Alexander the Great:

Alexander on horseback (reported in Caesar’s Forum in Rome around AD90)
Alexander with the lance (the most famous work by Lysippus - probably the archetype for many surviving ancient sculptures of Alexander)
Alexander as a youth (the one that Nero had gilded)
Alexander rescued by Craterus whilst hunting lions in Syria
Alexander and the thirty-four Companions who fell at the Granicus

Best wishes,

Andrew
That is true! :D So we can say "at least five". No doubt there were others, but we cannot be sure.
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by agesilaos »

Plutarch, Alex 16 16
Of these, then, Alexander ordered statues to be set up in bronze, and Lysippus wrought them.
Alexander seems not to be in this group honouring the fallen and subsequently removed to Rome.

What is the source for the equestrian statue c90AD?
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by Taphoi »

agesilaos wrote:Plutarch, Alex 16 16
Of these, then, Alexander ordered statues to be set up in bronze, and Lysippus wrought them.
Alexander seems not to be in this group honouring the fallen and subsequently removed to Rome.
Velleius Paterculus [i]Historia Romana [/i]1.11.3-4 wrote:Alexander prevailed upon Lysippus... to make likenesses of the horsemen in his own squadron who had fallen at the Granicus and to place his own statue among them.
So you are mistaken.
agesilaos wrote:What is the source for the equestrian statue c90AD?
Statius Silvae 1.1.84-90

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by robbie »

Thank you Andrew and and all you guys!

And we mustn't forget - the real life ivory portrait of young Alexander!
What do you think about that one?
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by agesilaos »

3 Hic est Metellus Macedonicus, qui porticus, quae fuerunt circumdatae duabus aedibus sine inscriptione positis, quae nunc Octaviae porticibus ambiuntur, fecerat, quique hanc turmam statuarum equestrium, quae frontem aedium spectant, hodieque maximum ornamentum eius loci, ex Macedonia detulit. 4 Cuius turmae hanc causam referunt, Magnum Alexandrum impetrasse a Lysippo, singulari talium auctore operum, ut eorum equitum, qui ex ipsius turma apud Granicum flumen ceciderant, expressa similitudine figurarum faceret statuas et ipsius quoque iis interponeret.

3 This is the Metellus Macedonicus who had previously built the portico about the two temples without inscriptions which are now surrounded by the portico of Octavia, and who brought from Macedonia the group of equestrian statues which stand facing the temples, and, even at the present time, are the chief ornament of the place. 4 Tradition hands down the following story of the origin of the group: that Alexander the Great prevailed upon Lysippus, a sculptor unexcelled in works of this sort, to make portrait-statues of the horsemen in his own squadron who had fallen at the river Granicus, and to place his own statue among them.
Of the Macedonians, about twenty-five of the Companions were killed at the first onset, brazen statues of whom we erected at Dium, executed by Lysippus, at Alexander's order. The same sculptor also executed a statue of Alexander himself, being chosen by him for the work in preference to all other artists. Of the other cavalry over sixty were slain, and of the infantry about thirty. Arrian I 16
So, it would also seem that the troopers depicted were from the first wave ie Sokrates eile not the Eile Basilike. Paterculus himself does not vouch for the information, it is 'causa referunt'. Of course one could prefer a casual statement in an introductory passage by a less than well respected Roman historian to the statements of two later Greeks specifically writing about Alexander: I just don't.

The Statius also does not mention an equestrian statue of Alexander, but an equestrian statue by Lysippos commisioned by Alexander, as these twenty-five were, and then had the rider replaced by Julius Caesar.
Cedat equus, Latiae qui contra templa Diones 
85Caesarei stat sede fori—quem traderis ausus 
Pellaeo, Lysippe. duci, mox Caesaris ora 
mirata cervice tulit—vix lumine fesso 
explores, quam longus in hunc despectus ab illo. 
quis rudis usque adeo, qui non, ut viderit ambos, 
90tantum dicat equos quantum distare regentes?

Let that steed give place, whose statue stands in
Caesar's Forum, over against Dione's shrine—thy
daring work, 'tis said, Lysippus, for the Pellaean
chief; thereafter on marvelling back he bore the
effigy of Caesar—scarce could your straining sight
discover how far the downward view from this
monarch (Domitian) to that(Caesar).
It could even be that Caesar took his Lysippan horseman from the Metellan monument, Statius could then be certain of the provenance, though he only says 'traderis'.
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by Taphoi »

agesilaos wrote:So, it would also seem that the troopers depicted were from the first wave ie Sokrates eile not the Eile Basilike. Paterculus himself does not vouch for the information, it is 'causa referunt'. Of course one could prefer a casual statement in an introductory passage by a less than well respected Roman historian to the statements of two later Greeks specifically writing about Alexander: I just don't.
Neither of the Greek sources contains any evidence on the question of whether a statue of Alexander was included in the group. The only evidence on that point (and it is affirmative evidence) is in the text of Velleius Paterculus.
agesilaos wrote:The Statius also does not mention an equestrian statue of Alexander, but an equestrian statue by Lysippos commisioned by Alexander, as these twenty-five were, and then had the rider replaced by Julius Caesar.
The passage says that the horse was made for Alexander (i.e. to carry Alexander), but that the image (head) had been substituted for that of Caesar. Anyway you are not arguing with me on this point, but with Professor Andrew Stewart, who accepts that it was originally an equestrian portrait of Alexander.

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by agesilaos »

'Pellaeo...duci' means only 'for the Pellaean leader' there is no necessity, your ie, that it is for a statue of Alexander only that it was made at his order; certainly it remains a possibility but only that. The writer of the Loeb footnotes, J H Mozely mentions the head swop
An equestrian statue of Julius Caesar in the Forum Julium opposite the temple of Venus Genetrix, called "Latia" here as being the mother of Aeneas, and so of the Roman race. Both forum and temple were built by Caesar out of his Gallic spoils. Probably Caesar's head was substituted for Alexander's ; the practice was common at Rome, cf. Suet. Caligula, 92.
I wonder if Stewart is working from the footnote rather than the Latin, for which it is unnecessary to make the original rider Alexander.

As to the relative merits of Velleius' 'positive' evidence versus Arrian's negative, he specifies the composition of the group sans Alexander and differently to Velleius, and proceeds to say the same sculptor made a portrait of Alexander without mentioning that it was placed with the fallen (what an omen that would be!) ; I'll let the rest of the forum make up their own minds.

On a different tack, whilst looking into the Krateros group I came across a notice that the dedictory epigram had been found and that Arthur Evans of Knossos fame had an intaglio showing a fallen Alexander saved by a mounted Krateros, ie nothing like the Pella mosaic which is often cited as representing the group; JHS XIX apparently has a plate to P Perdrizet's article pp273-279, this note was in 'Archaological Discussions' in American Journal of Archaeology 1899. Any Knowledge of this intaglio? It's a new one on me but the composition brings the Getty Lion to mind link

http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/li ... ing_horse/

Too big a file to load. I have a problem with the Hellenistic attribution, the horse clearly has nailed shoes which are not meant to have been introduced before about 900AD,
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
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Re: Face of Alexander the Great

Post by hiphys »

But in the upper link you refer to it is clearly said that R.Bascapè (1580-99) a student of Michelangelo, "restored the horse's head, legs, and tail, as well as lion's rear parts".
So the nails belong to the Renaissance restoration!
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