Anatomy and poses of the human figure in Attic art from the last quarter of the sixth to the first quarter of the fifth centuries B.C.
This thesis examines the extent to which a more accurate representation of the human body is developed from the last decades of the sixth century, and the reasons for this development. A sound knowledge of clinical anatomy is used to analyse closely the rendering of features and trace the way the Greek artist looked at his model. The study covers different media found in Attica (vases, sculpture in marble or in poros, bronzes, and terracottas) and shows that artists try to render the human body accurately in all, although the pace of development varies according to the cost, subject and technique used (painting, carving, casting, modelling). This move away from the conventional representation reflects a close observation of the life model even though the human figure is still rendered according to idealized proportions and features. In order to explain this change, literary evidence is gathered to reconstruct the knowledge of human anatomy and body at the time. A rich anatomical vocabulary is already developed in the Iliad and the Odyssey but is used in descriptions which combine imagination and reality, whereas, from the last decades of the sixth century, the extant philosophical and (slightly later) medical texts reflect a growing concern with anatomical features and internal organs in order to distinguish the human from the animal. This new approach may have influenced the way contemporary artists looked at, and represented the human figure, since it is probable that they knew these theories either from lay-texts, which often reproduce passages of philosophical or medical treatises, or from public lectures and readings.