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Title: The development of emotional rendering in Greek art, 525-400
Author: Ronseberg, Jonah L.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores the development of naturalistic rendering of emotion in the art of Greece through facial expression and body posture from 525 to 400. Why does emotional naturalism arise in the art of Greece, and in which particular regions? Why at this period? In which contexts and media? What restrictions on situation and type of figure can be interpolated or reconstructed? The upper chronological limit is based on simple observation. It is about this time, in many media, that naturalistic emotional expression is employed, although there are exceptions that blur this line slightly. The lower limit marks a major historical turning point, a culmination in Beazley's chronology of Attic vase painting and a common dating threshold for small finds. Emotional expression accelerates from the fourth century, and requires a different set of questions. 400 is for this reason held as a strict end-point. Many categories of physical object were considered; gems and coins did not offer substantial results, but are used for comparison. The rest have formed the armature of the thesis. Only original objects are included, as emotionality undergoes marked changes in Hellenistic and Roman copies. The first section treats publically-commissioned sculpture – sculpture integrated into architecture. The second section treats privately-commissioned sculpture, stone and terracotta; the third pottery: black-figure, red-figure and whiteground. Within these sections, material is arranged broadly chronologically. Human figures are the focus, and semi-humans such as Centaurs and satyrs are included; figures with essentially non-human faces such as the Gorgon are not. Human anatomy is constant, so the method of analysis is physiological. Rather than putting facial expressions in folk terms – a frown, a smile – they are described anatomically for precision: by muscular contractions and extensions and their correspondent manifestations on the surface of the body. Moving beyond description to explanation, neurochemistry and psychology are the preferred tools, although neither discipline has a consensus on the nature of emotion or its expression. History, religion, location, maker, commissioner, viewer, medium and technique are brought to bear in order put expressivity in context. An important methodological tool has been the separation of emotional 'input' and ‘output’. Output is the evocation or intended evocation of an emotional state in the viewer, and the thesis is constantly aware of the disconnect between the 'intended audience' and a modern one. It focuses instead on input – the methods used to render the inner state of the figures shown. This has twofold benefit: it avoids insurmountable subjectivity – one might laugh at the expression of fear on a maenad being raped by a satyr, while another might not – and allows for comparison across genre and medium.
Supervisor: Kurtz, Donna Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Archeology ; Greek archeology ; History of art and visual culture ; Emotion in art ; Facial expression ; Physiognomy ; Greek sculpture ; Greek vases ; Emotion ; Emotions ; Pathos ; Pathe ; Expression ; Iconography