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Monday, January 23, 2017

The Archaic Smile

Until I studied the art of the ancient world with my youngest son, I had no idea that Mona Lisa had a smile that hearkened back to the high classical Greek period.  There is something that falls between ethereal and fake about this smile, but overall I think that it is very appealing. Which is maybe a gender bias problem that I have, that women should be pleasant and they are more appealing when they are smiling, whether they feel it or not!  The sculptors of the ancient world produced timeless art, art that has been copied for literally thousands of years and is still very appealing today.  Before I had spent time studying ancient art, I was kind of dismissive of the Romans in that they mostly copied the Greeks rather than creating a distinctive style of their own.  First, they did blend some Etruscan elements into their interpretation of Greek art, and second, the Greeks were really way out in front when it came to sculpting, and in some ways, there is a lot we would not know about Greek art if it weren't for the Romans, because they were experts at copying it.  The caryatids that Hadrian had carved for his villa in Tivoli were such exact replicas of the ones at the Parthenon that they were used to make new ones for the Parthenon's remodel. 

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