Hermes With The Infant Dionysus Essay

369 WordsMar 3, 20122 Pages
Like many of Praxiteles’ other sculptures, Hermes with the infant Dionysus is made from marble. He had a strong interest in surface and texture which can be seen through his use of this medium. He discovered that marble had qualities that could be used to “convey the softness of flesh and the radiance of skin,” something which earlier sculptures had not been able to achieve in such an effective way. This gave the sculpture a much more delicate appearance, making it more realistic. The realism is further emphasized by Hermes’ simplistic stance. His posture is relaxed. His weight is on his right leg as he gently holds Dionysus in his left arm, who originally pointed happily to Hermes’ now missing arm. Praxiteles does not use contrapposto, giving the body a restful and nonchalant appearance. Ignoring the fact that they are both naked (which was a common portrayal during this time period, in fact Praxiteles was the first to depict a full scale female nude ), this sight would not be unusual to see. I really enjoyed this aspect of the sculpture. Earlier depictions of Greek gods showed them with overstated muscles in poses that seem peculiar and rigid. The simplicity of this sculpture humanizes them, making the notion of gods much more accessible. This humanization also led the way for sculptures to begin addressing everyday occurrences with ordinary people, such as the Spinnario. While the humanization of these gods is an integral feature of this sculpture, the power they held was not completely ignored. The sheer size of the sculpture itself conveys supremacy, it is 2.10 meters tall. Hermes originally dangled a bunch of grapes to the tiny Dionysus, before his right arm was lost. Dionysus reached for them inquisitively, before his left arm was also lost. I found this both appropriate and witty, as it is referring to Dionysus’ destiny to become the god of wine.

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