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Lysippos (Λύσιππος) was a Greekmarker sculptor of the 4th century BC. Together with Scopas and Praxiteles, he is considered one of the three great sculptors of the Classical Greek era, bringing transition into the Hellenistic period. Taken together, his large workshop, the demand for replicas of his work in his lifetime and later among Hellenistic and Roman connoisseurs, the number of disciples directly in his circle, and the survival of his works only in copies all pose methodological problems to the student.

Career and legacy

Lysippos was successor in contemporary repute to the famous sculptor Polykleitos. Among the works attributed to him are the so-called Horses of Saint Mark, Eros Stringing the Bow (of which various copies exist, the best in the British Museummarker), Agias (known for a marble copy found and preserved in Delphimarker), the similar Oil Pourer (Dresdenmarker and Munichmarker), the Farnese Hercules (which was originally placed in the Baths of Caracallamarker, although the surviving marble copy lies in the Naples National Archaeological Museummarker) and Apoxyomenos (or The Scraper, known from a Roman marble copy in the Vatican Museumsmarker).

Born at Sicyonmarker around 390 BC Lysippos was a worker in bronze in his youth. He taught himself the art of sculpture, later becoming head of the school of Argosmarker and Sikyon. According to Pliny, he produced more than 1,500 works, all of them in bronze. Commentators noted his grace and elegance, and the symmetria or coherent balance of his figures, which were leaner than the ideal represented by Polykleitos and with proportionately smaller heads, giving them the impression of greater height. He was famous for his attention to the details of eyelids and toenails.

His pupil, Chares of Lindos, constructed the Colossus of Rhodesmarker, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. As this statue does not exist today, debate continues as to whether it was cast bronze or hammered of sheet bronze.

Lysippos and Alexander

During his lifetime, Lysippos was personal sculptor to Alexander the Great; indeed, he was the only artist whom the conqueror saw fit to represent him. A recently-discovered epigram of Macedonian Poseidippus, in the anthology represented in the Milan Papyrus, takes as its inspiration a bronze portrait of Alexander:

Lysippus, Sicyonian sculptor, daring hand, learned artisan,
your bronze statue has the look of fire in its eyes,
that one you made in the form of Alexander. The Persians deserve
no blame. We forgive cattle for fleeing a lion.

Lysippus has been credited with the stock representation of an inspired, godlike Alexander with tousled hair and lips parted, looking upward. One fine example, an early Imperial Roman copy found at Tivolimarker, is conserved at the Louvremarker.

See also

  • Lysistratus - another Greek sculptor, his brother was Lycurgus, a deadly lion that rose from the Aegean Sea. They were linked back to Zeus, the almighty god of the sky.
  • Victorious Youth - a bronze sculpture attributed to Lysippos.


  1. The rediscovered Agias, dedicated by Daochos at Delphi, was a contemporary marble copy of a bronze. The original was at Farsala in Thessaly.
  2. His son Euthyktates worked in his style, according to Pliny, and, in the next generation, Tysikrates produced sculpture scarcely to be distinguished from his. (Natural History xxxiv. 61-67).
  3. The Search for Alexander, a 1976 exhibition catalogue, illustrates several examples and traces the development of the type.


  • A. F. Stewart, "Lysippan Studies" 2. Agias and Oilpourer" American Journal of Archaeology 82.3 (Summer 1978), pp. 301-313.

Further reading

  • Gardner, P. 1905. ‘The Apoxymenos of Lysippos’, JHS 25:234-59.
  • Serwint, N. 1996. ‘Lysippos’, in The Dictionary of Art vol. 19: 852–54.
  • Stewart, A.F. 1983. ‘Lysippos and Hellenistic sculpture’, AJA 87:262.
  • Vermeule, C.C. 1975. ‘The weary Herakles of Lysippos’, AJA 79:323–32.

External links

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