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Two Independents: Euphranor and Silanion



Contemporaries competing for the same Attic market, these two adopted radically different strategies to secure their commissions. Euphranor the sculptor-painter became a true all-rounder in both technique and subject matter, while Silanion concentrated exclusively upon andriantopoia in bronze.


Euphranor is variously reported as being an 'Isthmian' and an Athenian; yet whether an immigrant or not his major paintings were certainly done for Athens. His chronology is also confused, for though Pliny twice dates him to 364-361 (T 1 and N.H. 35.128), he places him after the flower-painter Pausias, who taught Apelles (floruit 332-329: N.H. 35.79): T 116, below. Indeed, in N.H. 35.111 he lowers the chronology still further, by apprenticing him to Apelles' contemporary the Theban painter Aristeides (cf. N.H. 35.98). Something has to give, and since (1) his own floruit in T 1 coincides with the Battle of Mantinea (362), the occasion for his acknowledged masterpiece (see below), and (2) T 1 also gives his son Sostratos a floruit in 328-325, the most likely explanation is that Pliny has made one Aristeides out of two: the earlier, active ca. 400 (N.H. 35.75) and grandfather of the later (N.H. 35.108-10), would then be Euphranor's master: cf. Palagia 1980, 8, 86. Euphranor's work on the Apollo Patroos and for the Macedonian kings (1, 10, below) extends his career at least to ca. 330.

His known works of sculpture are as follows:

    Divinities and personifications
    • Apollo Patroos in marble, in his temple in the Agora (T 118
    • Athena in bronze, later in Rome (T 116
    • Dionysos, later in Rome
    • Hephaistos, later in Rome
    • Herakles
    • Leto with Apollo and Artemis in bronze, later in Rome (T 116
    • Agathos Daimon, in bronze (T 116
    • Arete and Hellas (colossal), in bronze (T 116
    Mythological figures, portraits, etc.
    • Paris in bronze (T 116
    • Alexander and Philip in their chariots, in bronze (T 116
    • Key-bearer (`kleidouchos') in bronze — a priest or priestess (T 116
    • Woman praying, in bronze (T 116
    • Two- and four-horse chariots in bronze (T 116
    • Typoi (reliefs or models) in clay (T 117
His paintings included the Battle of Mantinea, a Theseus with Demokrateia and Demos, and the Twelve Gods, all in the Stoa of Zeus at Athens; and the feigned madness of Odysseus, at Ephesos.

Euphranor excited far less attention than Praxiteles or even Skopas, and his bronzes are only listed by Pliny in his alphabetical catalogue of second-rank masters:

“The Alexander Paris is by Euphranor, and is praised because in it all aspects of his personality can be discerned at once: the judge of the goddesses, the lover of Helen, and yet the slayer of Achilles. His too is the Minerva at Rome called the Catuliana, dedicated below the Capitol by Q. Lutatius Catulus [consul, 78]; the Bonus Adventus holding a dish in his right hand and an ear of corn and some poppies in his left; the Leto after childbirth in the temple of Concord, holding the babes Apollo and Diana in her arms. He also made two- and four-horse chariots, and an exceptionally lovely Key-Bearer, a Virtue and Greece, both colossal, a woman wondering and worshipping, and an Alexander and Philip in four-horse chariots.

Pliny N.H. 34.77-8
Fortunately, however, Pliny elsewhere quotes two 'professional' evaluations of his work, one culled from his own writings, the other (more critical) from the 'Xenokratic' tradition; these occur in his book on painting, for which he explicitly acknowledges treatises by Euphranor, Xenokrates, and Antigonos as sources (N.H. 1.35).

“After Pausias Euphranor of the Isthmus was by far the most distinguished painter, flourishing in the 104th Olympiad [364-361], whom we have also included among the sculptors. He made colossal statues, works in marble, and typoi , and was studious and industrious above all others, excelling in every field and never falling below his own standards. He seems to have been the first to express the dignity of the heroes and to have made habitual use of symmetria [in painting], though his bodies were too slight throughout, and his heads and limbs too large. He wrote treatises on symmetria and color.

Pliny N.H. 35.128-9
For the praise of his versatility see also Quintilian 12.10.6 and 12 (a rhetorical comparison with Cicero). The remarks concerning his dignified heroes and mastery of symmetria may well derive from Euphranor himself, though it is not clear precisely how he rendered the former — whether by colors (so Palagia 1980, 9; cf. Val. Max. 8.115), by sheer size (so Coulson 1972, 325; cf. 'colossi' in T 116), or by strengthening their physique (so Pollitt 1974, 368-69, after the comment concerning Theseus in N.H. 35.129). This last suggestion would find support from his alleged mastery of symmetria were it not for a revealing comment that follows (T 117).

Here, Pliny criticizes him exactly as he did Zeuxis (N.H. 35.64), and Coulson 1972, 325-26 has shown that just as symmetria in painting was perhaps derivative of symmetria in sculpture (it was only introduced around 400, by Parrhasios), so this remark should derive from a sculptor's critique of a system that sought to slim down the 'foursquare' Polykleitan canon (T 62) but failed to achieve the fully gracile proportions of Xenokrates' own master, Lysippos (T 124). For despite Palagia 1980, 11 n. 45 one may safely assume that Euphranor applied his principles to both arts. Indeed, the sources often couple him with Polykleitos, though to identify his master Aristeides with Polykleitos' pupil of the same name (T 1 and N.H. 34.72) is perhaps wishful thinking.

Attributions usually begin with the colossal marble Apollo found in the Metroon in 1907, next door to the temple of Apollo Patroos (1: Athens, Agora S 2154; Stewart 1990, fig. 512):

“These pictures [of the Battle of Mantinea and others, in the Royal Stoa] were painted for the Athenians by Euphranor, who also made the Apollo Patroos in the temple next door; in front of the temple is an Apollo by Leochares and another by Kalamis, called Alexikakos [Averter of Evil], so-called, they say, because by an oracle from Delphi he stayed the plague that struck during the Peloponnesian War [430-427].

Yet though despite this inconvenient change of location the attribution "has never been contested in print" (Palagia 1980, 14), few bother to note that pieces of a second Apollo Kitharoidos were found there too (H.A. Thompson 1953/4: 37-38, 43 n. 2). So although the colossus cannot be the Pythios of Leochares (cf. T 109-111, above, with Hedrick 1984) or the Alexikakos of Kalamis, for both were evidently fighters, a small question-mark still hangs over its creator. Palagia 1980, 21-25 groups a number of other works with this, including the bronze Athena from Piraeus (Piraeus Athena; Stewart 1990, fig. 511), while Dontas 1982 vigorously repudiates the attribution and substitutes the Piraeus Artemis (Piraeus Small ArtemisStewart 1990, figs. 569-70). True, the Athena's sentimental air and uneven quality seem to belie Pliny's praise of his consistently high standards (T 117), but the Artemis is hardly as close to the Apollo as she.

As for the rest, a possible candidate for (9) is the Lansdowne-type Paris, rejected by Palagia 1980, 34 on the dubious grounds that Euphranor's slimmer cannon was not applied to his sculpture. More to the point, it is difficult to see in it the complex characterization recorded by Pliny in T 116. Yet like T 110 this should derive from a Hellenistic epigram, so may be more freely imaginative than accurate. Finally, the Rondanini Alexander in Munich has long been connected with (10), though the arms are lowered too much to be holding reins; the statue may portray the king as a New Achilles arming himself for battle, or simply resting his forearms on his thighs (discussion, Stewart 1993, Chapter 4.3); Schwarzenberg 1975b opts for Achilles himself and a late Hellenistic date. In addition, the Alsdorf relief in Chicago (Palagia 1980 fig. 66; Andronikos 1980 no. 40; Stewart 1993, fig. 15) shows a very similar figure (Alexander?) in a tableau with two youths, Herakles, and a nymph, with a horse (Boukephalos?) to right. The relief is Attic, carved in the early third century A.D., and the composition is quite acceptable for the late fourth century B.C. The question remains open.

Select bibliography: (A) General: RE 6: 1191-94 (Robert, 1909); ThB 11: 78-81 (Amelung, 1915); Picard 1935-1971 (vol. 3): (Picard/Manuel) 853-78; Lippold 1950, 260-61; EAA 3: 531-33 (Bandinelli, Squarciapino, 1960); M. Robertson 1975, 386, 410, 433-36; Palagia 1980; Stewart 1990, 21, 35, 64, 69, , 93, 179, 186, , 237, 276, 277, 286-88.

(B) Sources: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 1786-1810; Löwy 1885/1976 nos. 495, 501, cf. 105-06; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 183-86; Jex-Blake 1896, xxiv, lxix, lxxii; Coulson 1972; Pollitt 1974, 23, 24.62, 76, 320, 323, 349-51, 358-59, 368-69, 379, 391-92; Palagia 1980, 1-12; Gallet de Santerre 1983, 46, 83, 207, 252-3; Pollitt 1990, 93-94, 167-68, 233.

(C) The Apollo Patroos and attributions: Imhoof-Blumer 1887/1964, lv-vi; H.A. Thompson 1953/4; Dacos 1961 (Paris); Jantzen 1964 (Paris); Bieber 1964, 25-26 (Alexander); Zanker 1974, 110-12 (Paris); Vierneisel-Schlörb 1979 nos. 23, 26, 33 (Paris, Apollo Centocelle, Alexander Rondanini, and others); Palagia 1980; Dontas 1982 (Artemis and others); Raeder 1983, 42 no. 16, 97, 98, 228-29 (Paris); Hedrick 1984 (Apollo); LIMC 2.1: 204 no. 145, 376 no. 48 (Palagia, 1984, Apollo); Ridgway 1990a, 113-15 (Alexander); Stewart 1993, Chapter 4.3 (Alexanders).

Silanion of Athens


Pliny (T 1) places the allegedly self-taught Silanion in the years 328-325, but mentions only three pieces in his alphabetical catalogue of lesser masters (T 119); fortunately, others show more interest, increasing his known works (all probably bronzes) to eleven, plus three signed bases:

  • Achilles (T 119
  • Theseus, in Athens
  • Jokasta dying
  • Sappho in Syracuse, taken to Rome by Verres (T 136
  • Korinna, later in Rome (T 136
  • Plato, dedicated to the Muses in the Academy by the Persian Mithradates (T 120
  • Apollodoros the sculptor (T 119
  • The boxer Satyros of Elis, at Olympia
  • The boy-boxer Telestas of Messene, at Olympia
  • The boy-boxer Damaretos of Messene, at Olympia
  • A trainer of athletes (T 119
  • A bronze later taken to Pergamon (signature only preserved)
  • A statue at Ephesos (ditto)
  • A statue at Miletos (ditto)
Silanion was thus exclusively an andriantopoios, and one of the few Athenians to challenge the Argive-Sikyonian school on its own territory (8)-(10). Indeed, and perhaps not entirely by coincidence, he was also apparently the first portraitist to follow Polykleitos and Euphranor (T 62, 117) and to write on symmetria (Vitruvius 7, Praef. 12); unfortunately, Pliny ignored his book entirely. Yet his virtuosity inspired some far-fetched anecdotes about his work, including the (surely fictitious) assertion that silver was mixed in with the bronze to catch the pallor on the face of (3) (Plutarch, Moralia 674A), and:

“Silanion cast a portrait of Apollodoros, himself a sculptor, but among all artists the most meticulous in his art and a harsh critic of his own work, frequently smashing his finished statues, since his zeal for his art always left him unsatisfied; consequently they nicknamed him "the Madman". This quality Silanion expressed in his portrait, and so represented in bronze not a man, but anger personified. He also made a famous Achilles, and a trainer of athletes.

Pliny, N.H. 34.81-2
None of these has been identified in copy, and his other works have fared almost as badly: Lattimore's identification of (1) with the Ludovisi `Ares' is purely hypothetical (S. Lattimore1979), Brommer 1982 rejects the Ince `Theseus' for (2), the Getty 'Sappho' head (cf. no. 4) is a fake, and the miserable little Korinna from Compiègne (cf. no. 5) has no exact correlates at full size. Only the Plato (6) and the 'Satyros' (8; Athens, NM Br. 6439) begin to be convincing as attributions (Stewart 1990, figs. 513-14). The former is noted (but not described) by Diogenes Laertius:

“In the first book of the Memorabilia of Favorinus it is stated that Mithradates the Persian set up a statue of Plato in the Academy and inscribed on it: "Mithradates the Persian, son of Orontobates, dedicated to the Muses this portrait of Plato, made by Silanion."

Diogenes Laertius 3.25
The Satyros is given similar treatment by Pausanias (6.4.5), and Moretti 1957 no. 462 has established probable dates of 332 and 328 for his victories; the dates of (9) and (10) are unknown.

Select bibliography: (A) General: RE 3. A: 2-6 (Lippold, 1927); ThB 31: 19-21 (Bieber, 1937); Picard 1935-1971 (vol. 3): (Picard/Manuel) 781-852; Lippold 1950, 272-74; Bieber 1961b, 42-44; EAA 7: 288-92 (Moreno, 1966); Boardman 1967, 443-44; M. Robertson 1975, 507-10, 517; Stewart 1990, 179-80, 288-89, and index, s.v. 'Silanion'.

(B) Sources: Overbeck 1868/1959, nos. 1350-63; Stuart-Jones 1895/1966, 180-82; Moretti 1957 nos. 448, 453, 462, 466 (athletes); Coarelli 1971-72: 99-106; Pollitt 1974, 352, 362, 417, 420; Gallet de Santerre 1983, 84, 209, 262; Pollitt 1990, 92-93, 223.

(C) Attributions: Boehringer 1935 (Plato); Richter 1965, 70-72 (Sappho), 144 (Korinna), 164-70 (Plato); Richter 1972, 5 (Sappho - fake); Bol 1978, 40-43, no. 159 ('Satyros'); S. Lattimore 1979 ('Ares'); Vierneisel-Schlörb 1979 no. 37 (Sappho and others); Brommer 1982 ('Theseus').

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