Classical Wisdom
This One Tradition Saved Centuries Worth of Artwork…

Dear Reader,

This one thing did more to preserve thousands of years of ancient artwork than anyone could ever have imagined. It saved an untold number of classical masterpieces that we are still able to admire today.

This significant tradition wasn’t thanks to eccentric art patrons or even the artists themselves. It was a practice far more surprising.

It’s a custom that was passed down from the ancient Greeks to the ancient Romans and continues on to this very day. In fact, you may already be doing this one crucial thing without even knowing it.
Best of all, you can become part of it.
First, let me explain one thing you might not know. It regards the development of this incredibly important custom and how it survived to this day.
The appreciation of the truly beautiful
Back in ancient Greek times, there was a great deal of appreciation for beautiful works of art and the craftsmanship that went into them. These artworks were so desired, in fact, that a tradition began that would ensure that the average citizen could appreciate the artwork in their own home.
This simple idea of having a piece of artwork to enjoy lead, unknowingly, to the preservation of some of the most spectacular masterpieces of the classical age.
How was this possible?
They started making replicas.
The ancient Greeks mastered the art of reproducing famous works to distribute them more widely. Some replicas were made to scale, with the sculptor either reproducing the original exactly or modifying it. These full size sculptures were then used to decorate both private and public spaces.
Replicas were also made in miniature. The statuettes were typically made out of bronze or terracotta. These mini-replicas were prized as collector’s items, and adorned shelves of citizens far and wide.
They facilitated the spread of classical Greek sculpture, forming an early version of a trade we see today: miniatures of famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty, sold to tourists.

However, the impact that these replicas had was much greater than simply bringing fine art to a wider audience.


The practice of producing replicas became a significant method of preserving history.
These reproductions of classical sculpture spread far and wide, with multiple versions scattered around the reaches of Greek civilization. Excavations have revealed a wealth of ancient Greek artwork, of which countless artefacts are, in fact, replicas of originals that have been lost.
The wide circulation of this art also meant a far more extensive recording of these pieces in classical literature, which has helped us to piece together more and more about this period.
What is especially notable about the replicas is that they were carefully crafted by sculptors. Since a lot of skill went into each copy, each replica was signed and individually valued for its artistry.
Interestingly, the relationship between an original and a replica was not of much concern to the public at the time. It was a topic debated by philosophers, naturally, but the general consensus from literature and clues from the inscriptions on statues indicate that copies were seen as a distinct work.
A piece of art was rarely marked as an original or as a copy, despite the widespread practise of reproductions.
The role of the Romans
As the Greek empire expanded with Alexander the Great’s conquests, the appreciation for these unique styles of fine art spread as well. Soon, ancient Hellenic art was known throughout the entire known world.
Not only did the admiration for classical Greek art circulate to the ancient Roman world, but so did the custom of making replicas. This practice became hugely popular amongst the Romans, a trend that has had a significant impact on what we know today about this era of Greek history.
Replicating Greek sculptures became so incredibly fashionable for the Romans that demand grew immensely and significant figures in the Roman Empire were caught up in the practice. Cicero, for example, wrote to Atticus in 66 B.C., speaking about ordering decorative herms and urns from Athens.
Emperor Hadrian also had a great taste for replicas, and excavation of his villa in Tivoli revealed a treasure trove of reproductions and great pieces of art that today adorn many museums.
This demand for replicas wasn’t restricted to the ruling upper classes. Greek artwork was all the rage in Rome, and to meet this demand, schools dedicated to reproducing Greek originals were opened in Athens and Rome.
One renowned sculptor making replicas was Pasiteles. Working in Neo-Attic style – a sculptural style characterized by replicating and adapting classical Greek sculpture for a Roman audience – Pasiteles headed a school in Rome which went on to produce a large number of replicas.
A notable example of the school’s output is the marble replica of Orestes and Electra, depicting the Greek mythological siblings who killed their mother and her lover to avenge their father, King Agamemnon.This statue, the replica, stands today in the Naples Archaeological Museum.

This exceptional piece of artwork most likely would never have existed had it not been for the tradition of replica craftsmanship.

This isn’t an isolated example. The next time you’re in a museum, pay close attention to the inscriptions accompanying Hellenistic artwork. You’ll notice the phrase “Roman copy after a Greek original” pop up frequently.
This is because many ancient statues that we have today are actually Roman replicas of the Greek originals. Famous copies of statues include:
  • Discobolus, the discus thrower (in the British Museum), copied from the Early Classical sculptor Myron
  • Diana of Versailles (now in the Louvre), a copy of the Greek original of Greek goddess Artemis, thought to be by Leochares
  • Apollo Belvedere (Vatican Museum), depicting the Greek god Apollo, after shooting an arrow; thought to be originally sculpted by Leochares between 350 and 325 B.C.
  • Meleager, the Greek hero, after a hunt (multiple copies), lost original by Skopos

 

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The Greek sculptor Myron completed this statue around 460-450 B.C. It shows off the athleticism of the discus thrower. The original is now lost to us, but many copies exist, including this Roman replica found in Hadrian’s Villa.

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Important: Use discount code CWW2015 (all caps) at checkout to recieve 10% off your order

 

The Romans recreated the Greek originals on a fairly large scale. One such example is a sculpture by Skopas, of Meleager, the hero who hunted the Calydonian Boar. 13 copies of this statue have been identified, with many more variations in the form of busts, torsos and herms.
Another popular sculpture to recreate was ‘The Three Graces’ depicting the handmaidens of Aphrodite. We have 16 copies of this statue, including one renowned copy that stands today in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

These multiple replications and their variations have given us immeasurable knowledge of trends and traditions in classical art and its appreciation.

 

Venus

Discovered on the Greek island of Melos in 1820, this replica of Aphrodite, also known as Venus de Milo, is believed to be a copy, based on a classical Greek original. It’s resemblance to the Aphrodite of Capua lead historians to believe this sculpture is a Roman replica, rather than an original.

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Important: Use discount code CWW2015 (all caps) at checkout to recieve 10% off your order

 

We have a lot to thank for the Romans’ love of Greek artwork.
Without the art of Roman replicas, a great deal of Greek art would have been lost to us. Few Greek originals survived, as bronze sculptures were often melted down, and countless artwork was lost through wars and plundering.
Thankfully the practice of producing replicas preserved not only the fine art, but also Greek history and culture, allowing us to piece together this ancient civilization and its belief systems.
Become part of this 2000-year tradition
Remember how I mentioned earlier that you could become part of this longstanding tradition to preserve art like the ancient artisans and sculptors of the classical age?
Well, here’s how you can do that.
Classical Wisdom Weekly has teamed up with Hellenic-art.com, a company dedicated to the ancient art of replicas from the Hellenic period. Together we’ve put together an exclusive deal for our valued readers to give you the chance to get your hands on your very own replicas.

We’re helping you own your own piece of classical Greece with these types of replicas:

Sculptures
Busts
Jewellery
Armor
Pottery
Weapons

 

What makes these replicas so special?
Since the practice of reproductions started, the emphasis was on crafting the replica with skill and care, forming it into a piece of art with its own value. When you buy replicas with Hellenic-art and Classical Wisdom Weekly, you can be assured that you’re keeping this ancient tradition alive.
  • Each item is handmade with careful craftsmanship
  • No items are mass produced
  • They’re created in Greece in small family workshops
  • The craftsmen are highly skilled in the original handcrafting traditions
  • Replicas are made with the original materials and methods
It’s your chance to own an object of timeless beauty that has been meticulously crafted with respect to the classical tradition.

Here are some items you can take home to preserve this ancient tradition:



Spartan Full Size Helmet
Venus

The Spartan warriors were perhaps the most renowned military in ancient history. They were highly disciplined and extremely tough and brave. Own a piece of their armour with this full size helmet, an exact museum reproduction.

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Important: Use discount code CWW2015 (all caps) at checkout to recieve 10% off your order

 



Poseidon of Artemision

 

Venus

This sculpture, representing Poseidon, brandishing his trident. Some scholars argue that it could represent Zeus as well, holding a thunderbolt. Often called the Artemision bronze, it was discovered in 1926 at the site of a shipwreck off Cape Artemision.

Click here to see more.

Important: Use discount code CWW2015 (all caps) at checkout to recieve 10% off your order

 


What are you waiting for?

Click below for a chance to own your own piece of Ancient Greece!

P.S. As a Classical Wisdom Weekly subscriber, you can receive a discount of 10% off all your orders. However, you must remember to enter promo code CWW2015 (all caps) when you checkout.
helmet