Artists and Signatures in Ancient Greece by Jeffrey M. Hurwit

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By Jeffrey M. Hurwit

The Greeks inscribed their artistic endeavors and craft with labels opting for mythological or ancient figures, bits of poetry, and claims of possession. yet no kind of inscription is extra hotly debated or extra fascinating than the artist's signature, which increases questions about the function and standing of the artist and the murals or craft itself. during this ebook, Jeffrey M. Hurwit surveys the phenomenon of artists' signatures around the many genres of Greek artwork from the 8th to the 1st century BCE. even though the good majority of extant works lack signatures, the Greek artist still signed his items excess of the other artist of antiquity. analyzing signatures on gemstones, cash, mosaics, wall-paintings, metalwork, vases, and sculptures, Hurwit argues that signatures aid us examine the location of the Greek artist inside his society in addition to his perception of his personal ability and originality.

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These little bits of sculpture [Pl. I] are not anonymous – if a signature is anything at all, it is an overt rejection of namelessness – and for Euthykartides the original dedication was very personal indeed. This is so because we can plausibly infer a few other things about the man and his dedication. That the monument was a votive meant primarily to adorn the burgeoning precinct of Apollo – that it was an agalma,∗ a monument of devotion to delight the god – is clear enough: there is no reason to doubt Euthykartides’ religious sincerity.

V. Chalcedony gem made for Mika and signed by Dexamenos, c. 440–430 BCE. 34 (CG 53). C Fitzwilliam VI. Syracusan tetradrachm signed on helmet of Athena by Eukleidas, c. 410–405 BCE. Courtesy Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels. Coll. A. du Chastel 111. VII. Fragment of a polychrome krater from Naxos, with painter’s signature (the name is lost); c. 650 BCE. Naxos Archaeological Museum. Photo: author. VIII. Signature of Exekias on Attic Black Figure amphora (Type A), c. 540–530 BCE. Vatican 344. Photo: author.

But the god was hardly the statue’s only intended audience. Any dedication is itself an entry into “a competition of votives,” and the temenos was its arena. ” The work is certainly not about self-expression. But it is about self-promotion; it is about mastery of material and form; and it is also about Euthykartides’ rivalry both with other sculptors for commissions and with other dedicants for the favor of Apollo. It may also be that Euthykartides dedicated and prominently signed this work precisely “because he was so proud to be a sculptor,”9 and perhaps the relatively large size of the letters is a EUTHYKARTIDES’ TOES symptom of that pride, as well as of his pride in being able to write at a time when literacy was probably not yet widespread or deep.

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