1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lysippus

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LYSIPPUS, Greek sculptor, was head of the school of Argos and Sicyon in the time of Philip and Alexander of Macedon. His works are said to have numbered 1500, some of them colossal. Some accounts make him the continuer of the school of Polyclitus; some represent him as self-taught. The matter in which he especially innovated was the proportions of the male human body; he made the head smaller than his predecessors, the body more slender and hard, so as to give the impression of greater height. He also took great pains with hair and other details. Pliny (N.H. 34, 61) and other writers mention many of his statues. Among the gods he seems to have produced new and striking types of Zeus (probably of the Otricoli class), of Poseidon (compare the Poseidon of the Lateran, standing with raised foot), of the Sun-god and others; many of these were colossal figures in bronze. Among heroes he was specially attracted by the mighty physique of Hercules. The Hercules Farnese of Naples, though signed by Glycon of Athens, and a later and exaggerated transcript, owes something, including the motive of rest after labour, to Lysippus. Lysippus made many statues of Alexander the Great, and so satisfied his patron, no doubt by idealizing him, that he became the court sculptor of the king, from whom and from whose generals he received many commissions. The extant portraits of Alexander vary greatly, and it is impossible to determine which among them go back to Lysippus. The remarkable head from Alexandria (Plate II. fig. 56, in Greek Art) has as good a claim as any.

As head of the great athletic school of Peloponnese Lysippus naturally sculptured many athletes; a figure by him of a man scraping himself with a strigil was a great favourite of the Romans in the time of Tiberius (Pliny, N.H. 34, 61); and this has been usually regarded as the original copied in the Apoxyomenus of the Vatican (Greek Art, Plate VI. fig. 79). If so, the copyist has modernized his copy, for some features of the Apoxyomenus belong to the Hellenistic age. With more certainty we may see a copy of an athlete by Lysippus in the statue of Agias found at Delphi (Greek Art, Plate V. fig. 74), which is proved by inscriptions to be a replica in marble of a bronze statue set up by Lysippus in Thessaly. And when the Agias and the Apoxyomenus are set side by side their differences are so striking that it is difficult to attribute them to the same author, though they may belong to the same school.  (P. G.)