Harpocration, Valerius, Lexicon in decem oratores Atticos, Polugnotos

ΠΟΛΥΓΝΩΤΟΣ Λυκοῦργος ἐν τῷ περὶ τῆς ἱερείας. περὶ Πολυγνώτου τοῦ ζωγράφου, Θασίου μὲν τὸ γένος, υἱοῦ δὲ καὶ μαθητοῦ Ἀγλαοφῶντος, τυχόντος δὲ τῆς Ἀθηναίων πολιτείας ἤτοι ἐπεὶ τὴν Ποικίλην στοὰν ἔγραψε προῖκα, ἢ ὡς ἕτεροι, τὰς ἐν τῷ Θησείῳ καὶ τῷ ἀνακείῳ γραφὰς, ἱστορήκασιν ἄλλοι τε καὶ Ἀρτέμων ἐν τῷ περὶ ζωγράφων καὶ Ἰόβας ἐν τοῖς περὶ γραφικῆς.

About Polygnotos the painter, of Thasian stock, son and pupil of Aglaophon, who obtained the Athenian citizenship, either as a gift because he had painted the Poikile Stoa, or, as others say, for his paintings at the Theseion and the Anakeion, others have recorded, as well as Artemon in his On Painters and Juba in his On Painting. (Trans. S. Loumakis)

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Created by Valérie Toillon
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  • Spyridon Loumakis

Sur le peintre Polygnote, Thasien d'origine, fils et élève d'Aglaophon, honoré par les Athéniens du droit de cité, en reconnaissance de ses peintures à la Stoa Poikile, ou suivant d'autres, de ces peintures au Théséion et à l'Anakéion, nous avons les renseignements de plusieurs auteurs, entre autres Artémon, Livre sur les peintres et Juba, Livres sur la peinture. (trad. Reinach 1921)

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Spyridon Loumakis

Commentary

  1. The text is a scholion on Lycurgus' speech "On the Priestess" delivered ca. 338-326 BCE. The text is related to text 141 concerning Mikon's fine for one of his painting in the Stoa Poikile (see commentary on text 141).
  2. Polygnotos was active between ca. 480-440 BCE and was granted Athenian citizenship for his work (maybe after his first work for Kimon ca. 477/75 BCE in the temple of Athena Areia at Plataia; Kebric 1983, pp. 34-35; Koch-Brinkmann in Vollkommer & Vollkommer-Glökler 2001-2004, pp. 272-274; Roscino 2010, pp. 13-18; contra Stansbury-O'Donnell 2014, pp. 146-152 who places the decorating project of the Athena temple at Plataia after 461 BCE, i.e. after Kimon's exil. On this point see text 123). Nevertheless, Polygnotos kept his bonds with his native land, since his name is mentioned on a list of "theoroi" (sacred ambassadors) in Thasos (see text 104).
  3. Polygnotos was the son of the painter Aglaophon of Thasos (see texts 86 to 90). His brother, Aristophonos was a painter too (see texts 96 to 99). Polygnotos was renowned for his style, especially due to the rendering of a person's character (ethos) and emotions (pathos). His main skills were : the rendering of transparent female clothes; the opening of the mouth showing the teeth; variations in facial expressions; interaction between characters looking at each others; depth illusion in placing characters on different levels; texture illusion in the rendering of surfaces as water or sand...His paintings had a very intense emotional power, since he did not paint the action but the moment right after the action, generating reflection on the characters within the painting (especially on past event), but also on the viewer. Thoses inovations were -for example- reflected on contemporary work of art, especially vase-painting of about the 460's BCE, such as the Niobid painter (Denoyelle 1997; Stansbury-O'Donnell 2014; on Polygnotos' ethos see texts 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133; Moreno 1987, pp. 54-56; Roscino 2010, pp. 73-82; Stansbury-O'Donnell 2014, pp. 146-152). Polygnotos worked with other famous artists (Mikon, Pheidias) on the decoration of prestigious building (both sacred and public) in Athens as well as at Delphi, in Plataia and Thespiae (texts 106 to 127). He was also a relative of Kimon of Athens (Matheson S. s.v. "Polygnotos of Thasos" in Oxford Art Online; Kebric 1983, pp. 33-36; Pollitt 1990, pp. 126-143; Roscino 2010, pp. 3-10).
  4. Concerning the Stoa Poikile and the paintings see texts 113, 114, 115, 116; for the Theseion see text 117 and the Anakeion see texts 118 to 120. On line 4 : the mss. read "thesauroi" which Overbeck has corrected into " en toi Theseioi" (Reinach 1921, p. 86). This correction indicates that, perhaps, Polygnotos has not contributed to the decoration of the Theseion, since Pausanias (text 117) does not mention the painter of the pictures (except Mikon) at the Theseion. Thus, C. Roscino proposes that Polygnotos has contributed to the decoration of another building in Athens, the "thesauros" mentioned in Harpocration's scholia, which was, perhaps, a shrine dedicated to Athena Polias ("of the city") (see: Roscino 2010, pp. 25-28).
  5. We know nothing about Artemon. Juba was a prolific author (ca. 50 BC-23 AD) and also the king of Mauretania (Pollitt 1990, p. 127). Most of our ancient sources on painting are mainly based on more ancient material- treatises on painting, architecture, sculpture, aesthetics, written as early as the middle sixth century BCE- and now lost for the most part. Thus, it is rare that ancient authors make direct reference (as Harpocration does) to those ancient treatises on painting (Tanner 2006).
Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Spyridon Loumakis

Bibliography

Denoyelle, M. 1997, Le cratère des Niobides, Louvre, Paris.

Harpocration, Lexeis of the ten orators, edited by John J. Keaney 1991, A.M. Hakkert, Amsterdam;

Moreno, P. 1987. Pittura greca. da Polignoto ad Apelle, Arnoldo Mondadori, Milano;

Pollitt, J.J. 1990, The Art of Ancient Greece. Source and Documents, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge;

Reinach, A. 1921, Textes grecs et latins relatifs à l'histoire de la peinture ancienne, Paris;

Roscino, C.2010, Polignoto di Taso, Roma, Giorgio Bretschneider, .

Stansbury-O’Donnell, M., 2014. Reflections of Monumental Painting in Greek Vase Painting. In J. J. Pollitt, ed. The Cambridge History of Painting in the Classical World. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 143–169.

Tanner, J. 2006. The Invention of Art History in Ancient Greece: Religion, Society and Artistic Rationalisation; Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press;

Vollkommer, R. & Vollkommer-Glökler, D., 2001. Künstlerlexikon der Antike, München: Saur

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Spyridon Loumakis