• athens
  • athens panorama
  • athens monuments

statue from acropolisThe Museum of  Acropolis has been specially built to hold all the statues and sculptures found in the excavations upon the Acropolis.
The museum contain the early architectural sculptures in Piraic limestone (poros) which once adorned the ancient temple of Athena and other early buildings. They were for the most part found buried in the earth south of the great basis on which the Parthenon now stands, and must probably, from the remarkable preservation of their colouring, have been buried soon after their erection. Some of them represent the exploits of Heracles.

At first sight they seem much alike, as repetitions of the same type, but on closer study we find a great degree of individuality, and also rapid artistic progress from the earlier to the later. Some of the simplest and severest are like the Athena from the great marble pediment, and show us Attic art in its independent period. But a strong influence from the islands—probably from the Cyclades—introduced a delicacy and grace which in some cases amounts to affectation, and is enhanced by the full and rich Ionian draperies of which the sculptor had evidently made a careful study. Then, again, in the later examples we find a stronger and simpler style. This may be due partly to an Athenian reaction against the island work, partly to the influence of the Doric schools of the Peloponnese.

the panathinaeaThese marble sculptures, like the earlier ones in porous stone, have their original colouring to a great extent preserved. But while the poros statues were mostly covered with an opaque coat of paint, the marble statues show its use with much greater discretion. The beautiful texture and surface of the white marble was preserved for the nude parts of female figures, and also for the broader stretches of drapery, and the colour was only used to render details such as hair, eyes, and lips, and to ornament the bottom and someώhat scattered patterns on the drapery. Used in this way, the colour by no means conceals the texture and effect of the marble, but enhances them by contrast with the coloured details. The richness of effect thus gained must be seen to be appreciated.

female lionIn addition to these early works the Acropolis Museum also contains such portions of the sculpture of the Parthenon as were neither carried off by Lord Elgin nor left in situ upon the temple. Among them the finest are some slabs of the frieze, especially one with Athenian youths leading cows for sacrifice, and another, in remarkable preservation, containing three figures from the group of gods in the east frieze. Also, in the east room, on the right of the door, there are the remains of the sculpture of the balustrade of the temple of the Wingless Victory. They consist of figures of winged Victories erecting trophies or otherwise employed in the service of Athena, among them the famous Victory tying her sandal, and two Victories mastering a restive cow. These are perhaps the most perfect examples known of clinging and floating draperies revealing and contrasting with an extraordinarily beautiful type of figure. The date of them is probably about the close of the fifth century B.C.
They have been frequently imitated both in later Greek work and in Greco-Roman, whence their influence passed on to the sculptors of the Renaissance.

lion head athena