Tribute to Praxiteles at National Archaeological Museum in July

A recent exhibition dedicated to the great sculptor Praxiteles at the Louvre Museum in Paris offered a useful insight to organizers of a Greek exhibition about what to do and what pitfalls to avoid. It may help the upcoming tribute to Praxiteles at the National Archaeological Museum of Greece (July 25 to October 31) to prevent any overcrowding, repetition and exaggeration. The Athens exhibition will have some advantages, one being the famous Marathon Boy, the bronze masterwork that was not the centerpiece to the Louvre exhibition, and which gave rise to a major misunderstanding on both sides. The extremely fragile statue will be moved, with its base, to the temporary exhibition hall, where it will be the central exhibit, together with a surprise that the museum’s director, Nikos Kaltsas, has planned. Eros of Thespies Another impressive exhibit is the small marble Eros of Thespies that was «discovered» a couple of years ago among the many treasures that fill the museum’s storerooms. Another masterpiece in the exhibition is the ivory figurine of Apollo that the First Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities lent with some reluctance as the figurine is exceedingly fragile, having been reconstructed from 240 tiny fragments. There will be 80 exhibits on display, 27 of them from museums abroad, as many again from Greek museums (such as the Iraklion Archaeological Museum, the Numismatic Museum and the Brauron Museum), and a further 26 from the National Archaeological Museum’s own collection. One innovation is that all the works on display will be either from the time of Praxiteles or Roman copies, but no later. Some experts objected to the Louvre exhibition’s inclusion of later works in order to show the influence of Praxiteles, not only on the Hellenistic and Roman periods, but also on the Renaissance and more recent times. The organizers did not want to use any casts in the exhibition, apart from that of Hermes from Olympia. In Athens, the works will be presented in order from the most certain to the least certain attributions. Sculptor’s workshop The workshop of Praxiteles, who was born around 395 BC, operated for around a century. It began with his father, Cephisodotus the Elder, the best-known Athenian bronze-caster of the period 390-370 BC, from whom Praxiteles learnt his trade, and was continued by his sons, Cephisodotus and Timodotus. Among the highlights of the exhibition will be the works that travelled from Athens to Paris for the Louvre tribute, as well as two inscribed plinths which bear the signature of Praxiteles from the Ancient Agora Museum, the head of Artemis of Brauron from the old Acropolis Museum, the torso of an Arles-type Aphrodite, a grave stele with a relief and the Mantineia Base.

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