Exposing The Idealism of Classical Greek Sculpture

Why are we so fascinated with Greek sculpture? Is it the unbelievable skill of artisans 2.5 millennia ago? Is it the beauty of the matt white of chiselled marble? Is it the nude form of an almost-inhumanly perfect being? Or maybe because a solid object captures such a vivid snapshot of Ancient Greece?

Lladró’s Paternal Protection, an emotional piece contrasting the vulnerability of a newborn with the strong but gentle arms of a caring father. The baby’s toes and fingers give so much life to the piece.

After Greece’s victory against Persia, Athens went through a huge cultural revolution. Greek philosophy changed focus from the natural world to human society, where Man now has control over his own destiny. There was an elevated sense of confidence in the skills and accomplishments of a population, and a desire for further achievement and eternity. With increasing wealth and stature, the Greek decorated temples and public spaces with statues of heroes, gods, and public figures.

Lladró’s Atlas Figurine showcases an idealised form of a Greek god holding up the cosmos.

In the Classical period, Greek sculptors broke the shackles of previous conventions and pushed the boundaries of their craftmanship. They started creating life-like and life-sized sculptures which glorified the ideal vision of a human body. Sculptures are now posed dynamically and appear frozen in action, with the illusion that they were just alive a second ago. Faces are given more expression and clothes are given subtle motion and cling to the contours of the body. While ideal proportions were important, sculptors strove for greater anatomical and emotional realism, creating a tension that draws in the viewer.

When a traditional woman bust crosses paths with Lladró’s signature handcrafted vivid porcelain flowers, you get the Daisy and Flowers Woman Bust.

Sculptures no longer serve to be stationary objects but figures ‘living’ in the space itself. The sculptures adorning various locales in the city serve as a constant reminder of the pride of craftsmanship, the idealized form of the human body, and the Greek’s importance of beauty. With increased access of marble as a flourishing civilization, artisans could render pieces that seemed carved from the inside out. However, marble isn’t without its flaws – it has no protection from the environments (especially acid rain), doesn’t hold on to colour well, and is vulnerable to fracturing – which is why there are few completely intact sculptures from that period.

No, it isn’t attached to its base. This showcase of technical balance without any sacrifice of anatomical accuracy is only possible through decades of experience and the finest craftsmanship. Finally Icarus can take flight.

Lladró artisans have always referenced Classical Greek sculptures in their portfolio, especially in their matt white collections. Like the Greeks, they are consistently pushing the envelope of design and form with the medium of porcelain, with certainty that their creations in their intended form will go on to last a lifetime.

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