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Networks of Stone

Sculpture and Society in Archaic and Classical Athens


Helle Hochscheid

Networks of Stone explores the social and creative processes of sculpture production in Athens in the sixth and fifth centuries BC. Using the concept of art worlds, it analyses the contributions and interactions of all those who were in some way part of creating the sculpture set up in the sanctuaries and cemeteries of Athens. The choices that were made not only by patrons and sculptors but also by traders in various materials and a range of craftsmen all influenced the final appearance of these works of art. By looking beyond the sculptor to the network of craftsmen and patrons that constituted the art world, this study offers new insights into well-known archaeological evidence and some of the highlights of classical art history.
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Chapter V: A patron’s world


← 236 | 237 →CHAPTER V

A patron’s world

V.1 Sculpture patronage and the Athenians

If not architectural, sculpture in archaic and early classical Athens relied largely on private patronage. Without demand for statuary, sculptors would not have taken up residence in Athens simply because they could not have made a living there. Already in the archaic period, many signatures of individual sculptors in Athenian epigraphy suggest that it was worth their while to remain in the city for longer periods of time, or even to set up shop there. The demand for votive and sepulchral sculpture was an important reason to stay; and the patrons who created these favourable circumstances helped the development of sculpture. Much of what they preferred was reflected in the statues. Although the purpose of a commission must have had some influence, for example, on the type of sculpture, it was the patrons who determined how much they wanted to spend and on which occasions they wanted to offer statues. Material, size and complexity of a sculpted monument were at a patron’s discretion. The question in this chapter regards the degree of influence that Athenian patrons had on their commissions.

In inscriptions, there were choices to be made, too.1 Epigrams might be made by patrons or by professional poets, while some chose for a plain name inscription. On some bases, the dedicatory inscription is in a different hand than the signature, which may mean sculptors carved their own ← 237...

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