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The Centaur's Smile: The Human Animal in Early Greek Art
     

The Centaur's Smile: The Human Animal in Early Greek Art

by J. Michael Padgett, William A. P. Childs (Contribution by), Despoina Tsiafakis (Contribution by), William A.P. Childs (Contribution by)
 

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Human animals-such as centaurs, satyrs, sphinxes, sirens, and gorgons-as well as other composite creatures like Pan, Triton, and the Minotaur are extremely common in Greek myth, literature, theater, and the visual arts. Understanding the phenomenon of combining human and animal elements into composite creatures is central to our knowledge of the Greek imagination.

Overview

Human animals-such as centaurs, satyrs, sphinxes, sirens, and gorgons-as well as other composite creatures like Pan, Triton, and the Minotaur are extremely common in Greek myth, literature, theater, and the visual arts. Understanding the phenomenon of combining human and animal elements into composite creatures is central to our knowledge of the Greek imagination. This landmark book is the first to investigate representations of these human animals in early Greek art (ca. 850-450 B.C.). The Centaur's Smile discusses the oriental antecedents of these fantastic creatures, examining the influence of Egyptian and Near Eastern models on the formation of Greek monsters in the early Archaic period. Essays also explore the nature and origin of horse-men (centaurs and satyrs) and the ways in which they are represented in early Greek art. Furthermore, the book surveys the broader range of Greek composite creatures and discusses their evolving forms and changing roles and meaning. Over one hundred exquisite objects-all beautifully reproduced in color-are described and analyzed in detail. Among the featured works are reliefs and statuettes in stone, bronze, and terracotta; jewelry and metalwork in gold, silver, and electrum; engraved sealstones in rock crystal, jasper, and cornelian; and painted ceramic vases from Athens, Corinth, Rhodes, Miletus, Cyprus, and Etruria.

Author Biography: J. Michael Padgett is curator of Ancient art at the Princeton University Art Museum. William A. P. Childs is professor of art and archaeology at Princeton University. Despoina Tsiafakis is assistant professor at the Cultural and Educational Technology Institute, Xanthi, Greece.

This book is the catalogue for an exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum (October 11, 2003 to January 18, 2004) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (February 22 to May 16, 2004). Distributed for the Princeton University Art Museum

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Edited by Padgett (Roman Sculpture), this catalog of an exhibition held at Princeton University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in late 2003 and early 2004 examines the role and meaning of centaurs and satyrs-creatures that were part man and part horse-in early Greek art and culture. The well-illustrated text explores various topics, including the significance of centaurs with human vs. equine forelegs and the combination of the good and bad traits of humans and horses. The book also makes the connection between the importance of horses as status symbols to the landed aristocracy, who provided the army's cavalry from about 900 to 700 B.C.E., and the proliferation of equine/human figures in the bronze, terra cotta, and painted pottery of Greek funerary art. Although highly specialized and unique in the English-language coverage of this topic, the text is accessible to general readers. Each of the 100 catalog entries includes at least one color illustration, as well as provenance, material type, condition, description, bibliography, footnotes, and author's initials. Recommended for larger academic and special collections.-Nancy Mactague, Aurora Univ. Lib., IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300101638
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
09/28/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
424
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 11.25(h) x (d)

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