Pedimental sculpture is a form of architectural sculpture designed for installation in the tympanum, the space enclosed by the architectural element called the pediment. Originally a feature of Ancient Greek architecture, pedimental sculpture started as a means to decorate a pediment in its simplest form: a low triangle, like a gable, above an horizontal base or entablature.However, as classical architecture developed from the basis of Ancient Greek and Roman architecture, the varieties of pedimental sculpture also developed. The sculpture can be either freestanding or relief sculpture, in which case it is attached to the back wall of the pediment. Harris in The Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture defines pediment as "In classical architecture, the triangular gable end of the roof above the horizontal cornice, often filled with sculpture." Pediments can also be used to crown doors or windows.
In Romanesque architecture, and very often in Gothic architecture, the tympanum is usually semi-circular at the top, and the sculptural groups, usually with religious subjects, adapted to fit the new spaces. In the Renaissance triangular pediments returned, as gradually did sculptural groups within them, becoming very popular for important buildings in the 19th century.
The pediment begins in Ancient Greek architecture; according to the mid-fifth century BCE poet Pindar, it was a Corinthian invention.It is possible that it was devised specifically to contain sculpture, which from the early 6th century became "customary (though never obligatory)" in Doric temples; in Ionic ones it was a "rarity". A difference between the ancient Greek temple and temples of other, older, cultures of the Near East was that the visual effect and decoration of the exterior exceeded that of the interiors and exteriors behind the main facade. Like the other forms of exterior decoration such as statues, antefixes, and acroteria, the pedimental sculptures were originally in terracotta and coloured.
The "earliest pedimental composition to have survived," from the Early Archaic Period, was from the Temple of Artemis, Corfu, about 580–570 BCE.Large parts of the sculptural group are in the Archaeological Museum of Corfu, including the central figure of the winged gorgon Medusa, flanked by two crouching lions. Richter points out that the “weak points are the lack of concerted action and unity as well as the ludicrously small scale of the side figures compared with the central Gorgon.”
Gorgons and gorgon heads were the most common early pedimental sculptures, as an architectural version of the gorgoneion apotropaic amulet, which both Athena and Zeus are said to have worn as a pendant.Greek temples with pediment sculptures usually had them at both ends of the temple, and tended to have contrasting scenes, one perhaps a peaceful scene with deities, and the other with a battle or dramatic scene from mythology.
Over the next decades refinements were made in the design and carving of pedimental sculpture, "a small Hyrda pediment" in Athens (about 570 BCE), the "Bluebeard pediment from the 'old Athena temple' the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi (about 525 BCE), the Megarian Treasury at Olympia (about 520–510 BCE), the temple to Aphaia at Aigina (about 500–480 BCE), the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (about 465–460 BCE, the remains of the Eastern pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia are in the site museum) and others, but "they did not satisfy the Greek sculptor for long." Finally, in the Parthenon pediments (about 438–432) "we reach the climax of Greek pedimental composition". After the Parthenon there is no outstanding pedimental composition, at least now known.
In the late or Hellenistic phase of Etruscan art, after about 300 BCE, Greek-style groups were introduced, but in terracotta rather than stone; some large fragments of these have survived.The Romans also used terracotta, but also stone for the grandest temples. An Amazonomachy in marble on the Temple of Apollo Sosianus in Rome, whose fragments were excavated in the 1930s, is thought to be a Greek work of the 5th century BCE, removed by the Romans from a temple there in the 1st century CE. Allusions to the recent Battle of Actium have been proposed. The group on the final rebuilding of the Capitoline Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus is known from literary descriptions and depictions in other works of art, but none of it is known to survive.
Classical archeologists since Johann Joachim Winckelmann's Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (published 1764) have recognized Greek pediment sculpture, in particular the pediments of the Parthenon, as the standard of the highest-quality art in antiquity.For Martin Schede, writing in 1923, the remains of limestone pediments, although "badly shattered indeed," represented "the highest artistic achievement of two generations of a most artistic people," the value of which was impossible to overestimate. The travel writer Solomon Charles Kaines Smith specifically named the "Three Fates" of the east pediment the "highest surviving achievement of Greek sculpture," and for Wincklemann's contemporary Ennio Quirino Visconti the Parthenon pediments "met the criteria for the best artists of the best period." The Parthenon compositions are considered to be the magnum opus of Classical pedimental decoration.
Awareness of the Parthenon pediments, almost the only classical example to substantially survive in situ to the Renaissance, and eventually highly influential, increased only gradually in Western Europe. They were first drawn, not accurately, in 1436 by Ciriaco de' Pizzicolli. It grew significantly over the 17th century, especially as numerous careful drawings were made in Athens in 1674 by Jacques Carrey, a member of Charles Le Brun's workshop, who was sent in the suite of Charles Marie François Olier, marquis de Nointel, the French ambassador to Constantinople to make drawings. These were made before the sculptures were greatly damaged in an explosion in 1687. The drawings had all reached Paris by Carrey's return in 1679, and contain crucial evidence as to the original appearance of the portions that were destroyed.
The British Museum holds 17 figurative pedimental sculptures from the Parthenon, as part of the so-called Elgin Marbles, in their permanent collection.The rest of the pedimental sculpture from the Parthenon is now on display in the Acropolis Museum at Athens.
Sculptures above lintels continued to be produced, indeed became more common, in post-classical architectural styles, but in recent times the medieval examples tend not to be called "pedimental sculptures", although it is technically correct to do so. "Tympanum reliefs" is a more common term, as these are now mostly in a relatively low relief, and less than life-size, as they are lower down the building, over doorways, and so closer to the observer than on classical temples. They are typically framed by round tops in Romanesque architecture, and pointed Gothic arch shapes in Gothic architecture. In both cases the composition was often arranged in tiers, with many small figures making up a Christian scene, sometimes dominated by a much larger Christ in Majesty or a Virgin Mary. There are often supporting figures on the archivolts to the sides, and on the lintel below.
The low triangular pediment was revived, initially mainly for the main facade of churches, in Renaissance architecture, but at first the triangular tympanum was left plain or only decorated with a round window, or sometimes a round motif such as a star. The cathedral at Pienza (c. 1460), with the coat of arms of Pope Pius II is one of the earliest examples to feature the arms of the donor of the church. This became common by the next century, as at Saint Peter's Basilica and the Church of the Gesù (completed 1584), both in Rome. Heraldic sculpture was to remain extremely common in tympani, especially as the triangular pediment spread to large houses.
Most buildings with pediments by Andrea Palladio followed the simpler formulae, but some of his villas around the Veneto feature large sprawling figures supporting the coat of arms, so that most of the tympanum is filled. Examples are the Villa Barbaro (completed c. 1558) and Villa Emo (by 1561). The small Tempietto Barbaro near the villa (c. 1583) has a composition in stucco with eight figures filling the space; like some other examples this seems to have been added after the rest of the building was finished, and the designer and sculptor are unknown.
Such compositions remained uncommon in Baroque architecture, even in the grandest buildings, and somewhat unexpectedly are found more often north of the Alps, with many in Protestant countries. Examples include crowded scenes, all in relief, at Saint Paul's Cathedral (Conversion of Saint Paul), the south front of Hampton Court Palace (Hercules Triumphing Over Envy, by Caius Cibber),both buildings by Christopher Wren, and the Royal Palace of Amsterdam (1655, built as the City Hall). The expansion of the Louvre Palace under Louis XIV included much pedimental sculpture filling various shapes of tympanum. Buildings with military connections could surround heraldic devices with trophies of arms and armour to fill the whole space, as at Blenheim Palace and many Central European palaces, such as Nieborów Palace (on both fronts, in stucco). Otherwise, flanking angels or winged Victory figures, strapwork or other ornamental motifs, could fill the rest of the triangle.
The arrival of Neoclassical architecture favoured the return of large free-standing figure compositions in the pediments of important buildings, with Vilnius Cathedral (by 1783) one of the earliest in the style. They remained popular during the 19th century, now used for additional types of buildings such as museums, stock exchanges, legislature buildings, law courts, banks and town halls. Allegorical groups became typical on secular buildings. The pediment over the main entrance of the British Museum has The Progress of Civilisation by Sir Richard Westmacott, consisting of fifteen figures, installed in 1852, well after the main building. Westmacott's son sculpted the comparable pediment of the Royal Exchange, London;like the later New York Stock Exchange Building (1903), this featured an allegory of commerce. The group on the Panthéon in Paris was changed three times over its first 50 years, varying between religious and patriotic subjects as the political wind changed.
By 1874, perhaps the most ambitious example in size and in the number of figures was that by Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire for the La Madeleine Church in Paris. 125 ft (38 m) in length, and 23 ft (7.0 m) tall at its apex.It represents the Last Judgement, with Jesus Christ in the centre, and was completed between 1826 and 1834; it is
In the United States, many government buildings in Washington DC carry large groups, as well as numerous State Capitols and important courthouses. Drafting the Declaration of Independence on the Jefferson Memorial, by Adolph Alexander Weinman (1943) is an exception to the usual allegorical subject matter, showing the Committee of Five around a table.Since World War II relatively few new groups have been created.
Architectural terracotta was sometimes used, as at the department store Harrods in London (glazed, by Royal Doulton), and (in polychrome) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the 1930s. The Victoria and Albert Museum has a mosaic group,for which there are medieval Italian precedents.
Gisela Richter, in The Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks, states that, "pediment groups presented peculiar difficulties. The chief requirements were: to place in the center a prominent figure or group, since here comes the chief accent; to fill the awkward space of the angles; and to compose figures for the intervening parts of constantly diminishing heights. And the composition as a whole had to produce the needed variety of line and create a harmonious effect. The gradual evolution from primitive renderings to the wonderful solutions of the Parthenon are fascinating to watch."
The sculptures themselves may be freestanding, in-the-round statues that stand on the bed of the pediment, or they can be relief sculpture, attached to its back wall.As an additional physical restriction in the pediment format, a deeper recess will throw the triangular field into deeper shadow, which means the figures should be executed in deeper relief or fully in the round. Only the pediments from the temple of Aphaia at Aegina and the Parthenon compositions are fully finished in the round, other temples the back-side of the sculptures are summarily or roughly finished. Some statues from the pediments of the temple of Zeus at Olympia are even hollowed out, to relieve weight.
Aside from sculptural adornment of the tympanum, the triangular or sometimes curved area of a pediment, reclining figures were sometimes placed on the slanting sides above the pediment.Alternatively, the apex, or the apex and both corners, may be topped with vertical elements called acroteria taking the form of urns, palmettes, or figural sculpture.
Walter Copland Perry wrote that it was proof of the power of Greek art that the classical sculptors not only overcame the rigid restrictions of the pediment's shape, but turned them to their advantage.Compositionally, the restrictions imposed by both the physical triangular shape of a pediment, and the traditional themes that are usually employed for the subject matter, are, according to Ernest Arthur Gardner, "as exactly regulated as that of a sonnet or a Spenserian stanza: the artist has liberty only in certain directions and must not violate the laws of rhythm."
In all examples, classical and modern, the central area below the apex is inevitably the tallest, most spacious, the natural focus, and will contain the main figures and the focus of action. Secondary figures decrease in size and importance on both sides, as they approach the far angles at the base. The well-known classical examples all observe "unity of action", although the Greek geographer Pausanias describes a sculpture by Praxiteles in which Hercules appears several times in different sizes.
The Parthenon is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, that was dedicated to the goddess Athena during the fifth century BC. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art, an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, democracy and Western civilization.
Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. Sculpture is the three-dimensional art work which is physically presented in the dimensions of height, width and depth. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving and modelling, in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or moulded or cast.
Ancient Greek architecture came from the Greek-speaking people whose culture flourished on the Greek mainland, the Peloponnese, the Aegean Islands, and in colonies in Anatolia and Italy for a period from about 900 BC until the 1st century AD, with the earliest remaining architectural works dating from around 600 BC.
Pediments are gables, usually of a triangular shape. Pediments are placed above the horizontal structure of the lintel, or entablature, if supported by columns. Pediments can contain an overdoor and are usually topped by hood moulds. A pediment is sometimes the top element of a portico. For symmetric designs, it provides a center point and is often used to add grandness to entrances.
A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls. This idea was widely used in ancient Greece and has influenced many cultures, including most Western cultures.
The Temple of Athena Nike is a temple on the Acropolis of Athens, dedicated to the goddesses Athena and Nike. Built around 420 BC, the temple is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis. It has a prominent position on a steep bastion at the south west corner of the Acropolis to the right of the entrance, the Propylaea. In contrast to the Acropolis proper, a walled sanctuary entered through the Propylaea, the Victory Sanctuary was open, entered from the Propylaea's southwest wing and from a narrow stair on the north. The sheer walls of its bastion were protected on the north, west, and south by the Nike Parapet, named for its frieze of Nikai celebrating victory and sacrificing to their patroness, Athena and Nike.
kouros is the modern term given to free-standing Ancient Greek sculptures that depict nude male youths. They first appear in the Archaic period in Greece and are prominent in Attica and Boeotia, with a less frequent presence in many other Ancient Greek territories such as Sicily. Such statues are found across the Greek-speaking world; the preponderance of these were found in sanctuaries of Apollo with more than one hundred from the sanctuary of Apollo Ptoion, Boeotia, alone. These free-standing sculptures were typically marble, but the form is also rendered in limestone, wood, bronze, ivory and terracotta. They are typically life-sized, though early colossal examples are up to 3 meters tall.
Relief is a sculptural method in which the sculpted pieces are bonded to a solid background of the same material. The term relief is from the Latin verb relevo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane. When a relief is carved into a flat surface of stone or wood, the field is actually lowered, leaving the unsculpted areas seeming higher. The approach requires a lot of chiselling away of the background, which takes a long time. On the other hand, a relief saves forming the rear of a subject, and is less fragile and more securely fixed than a sculpture in the round, especially one of a standing figure where the ankles are a potential weak point, especially in stone. In other materials such as metal, clay, plaster stucco, ceramics or papier-mâché the form can be just added to or raised up from the background, and monumental bronze reliefs are made by casting.
Greek temples were structures built to house deity statues within Greek sanctuaries in ancient Greek religion. The temple interiors did not serve as meeting places, since the sacrifices and rituals dedicated to the respective deity took place outside them, within the wider precinct of the sanctuary, which might be large. Temples were frequently used to store votive offerings. They are the most important and most widespread building type in Greek architecture. In the Hellenistic kingdoms of Southwest Asia and of North Africa, buildings erected to fulfil the functions of a temple often continued to follow the local traditions. Even where a Greek influence is visible, such structures are not normally considered as Greek temples. This applies, for example, to the Graeco-Parthian and Bactrian temples, or to the Ptolemaic examples, which follow Egyptian tradition. Most Greek temples were oriented astronomically.
The sculpture of ancient Greece is the main surviving type of fine ancient Greek art as, with the exception of painted ancient Greek pottery, almost no ancient Greek painting survives. Modern scholarship identifies three major stages in monumental sculpture in bronze and stone: the Archaic, Classical (480–323) and Hellenistic. At all periods there were great numbers of Greek terracotta figurines and small sculptures in metal and other materials.
The Parthenon frieze is the high-relief Pentelic marble sculpture created to adorn the upper part of the Parthenon’s naos. It was sculpted between c. 443 and 437 BC, most likely under the direction of Pheidias. Of the 160 meters (524 ft) of the original frieze, 128 meters (420 ft) survives—some 80 percent. The rest is known only from the drawings attributed to French artist Jacques Carrey in 1674, thirteen years before the Venetian bombardment that ruined the temple.
Classical sculpture refers generally to sculpture from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, as well as the Hellenized and Romanized civilizations under their rule or influence, from about 500 BC to around 200 AD. It may also refer more precisely a period within Ancient Greek sculpture from around 500 BC to the onset of the Hellenistic style around 323 BC, in this case usually given a capital "C". The term "classical" is also widely used for a stylistic tendency in later sculpture, not restricted to works in a Neoclassical or classical style.
Architectural sculpture is the use of sculptural techniques by an architect and/or sculptor in the design of a building, bridge, mausoleum or other such project. The sculpture is usually integrated with the structure, but freestanding works that are part of the original design are also considered to be architectural sculpture. The concept overlaps with, or is a subset of, monumental sculpture.
The Hekatompedon or Hekatompedos, also known as Ur-Parthenon and H–Architektur, was an ancient Greek temple on the Acropolis of Athens built from limestone in the Archaic period, and placed in the position of the present Parthenon.
The Nereid Monument is a sculptured tomb from Xanthos in Lycia, close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey. It took the form of a Greek temple on top of a base decorated with sculpted friezes, and is thought to have been built in the early fourth century BC as a tomb for Arbinas, the Xanthian dynast who ruled western Lycia under the Achaemenid Empire.
The Temple of Artemis is an Archaic Greek temple in Corfu, Greece, built in around 580 BC in the ancient city of Korkyra, now called Corfu. It is found on the property of the Saint Theodore monastery, which is located in the suburb of Garitsa. The temple was dedicated to Artemis. It is known as the first Doric temple exclusively built with stone. It is also considered the first building to have incorporated all of the elements of the Doric architectural style. Very few Greek temple reliefs from the Archaic period have survived, and the large fragments of the group from the pediment are the earliest significant survivals. It was excavated from 1911 onwards.
Ancient Greek art stands out among that of other ancient cultures for its development of naturalistic but idealized depictions of the human body, in which largely nude male figures were generally the focus of innovation. The rate of stylistic development between about 750 and 300 BC was remarkable by ancient standards, and in surviving works is best seen in sculpture. There were important innovations in painting, which have to be essentially reconstructed due to the lack of original survivals of quality, other than the distinct field of painted pottery.
Pedimental sculptures are sculptures within the frame of a pediment on the exterior of a building, some examples of which can be found in the United States. Pedimental sculpture pose special challenges to sculptors: the triangular composition limits the choices for figures or ornament at the ends, and the sculpture must be designed to be viewed both from below and from a distance.
The pediments of the Parthenon are the two sets of statues in Pentelic marble originally located as the pedimental sculpture on the east and west facades of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens. They were probably made by several artists, including Agoracritos. The master builder was probably Phidias. They were probably lifted into place by 432 BC, having been carved on the ground.
Archaic Greek Sculpture represents the first stages of the formation of a sculptural tradition that became one of the most significant in the entire history of Western Art. The Archaic period of Ancient Greece is poorly delimited, and there is great controversy among scholars on the subject. It is generally considered to begin between 700 and 650 BC and end between 500 and 480 BC, but some indicate a much earlier date for its beginning, 776 BC, the date of the first Olympiad. In this period the foundations were laid for the emergence of large-scale autonomous sculpture and monumental sculpture for the decoration of buildings. This evolution depended in its origins on the oriental and Egyptian influence, but soon acquired a peculiar and original character.