Praxitĕles in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)

(Παξιτέλης). One of the most famous Greek sculptors, born at Athens about B.C. 390. He and his somewhat older contemporary, Scopas, were at the head of the later Attic school. He chiefly worked in marble, but at the same time occasionally used bronze. His recorded works exhibit every age and sex in the greatest variety of the divine and human form. Still, he paid most attention to youthful figures, which gave him the opportunity of displaying all the charm of sensuous grace in soft and delicate contours. Among his most celebrated works the naked Aphrodité, of Cnidus, stands first-according to the enthusiastic descriptions of the ancients a masterpiece of the most entrancing beauty (e. g. Pliny , Pliny H. N. xxxvii. 20, 21; cf. Aphrodité). Not less famous were his representations of Eros, among which the marble statue at Thespiae was esteemed most highly (ib. 22; cf. Eros); his Apollo Sauroctonos (lizard-slayer) in bronze (ib. xxxiv. 70); and a youthful Satyr in Athens (Pausan. i. 20.1). As to the group of Niobé's children, preserved at Rome in Pliny 's time, it was disputed even among the ancients whether it was the work of Praxiteles or, as is more probable, of Scopas ( H. N. xxxvi. 28). Of all these only later copies have been preserved. An important original work by him (mentioned by Pausan. v. 17.3) was unearthed in 1877 by the German excavators at Olympia. It represents Hermes with the child Dionysus in his arms, and was set up in the cella of the temple of Heré. The arms and legs are partially mutilated, but otherwise it is in an excellent state of preservation. His sons, Cephisodotus the younger and Timarchides, were masters of some importance. See Statuaria Ars.

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