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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Laocoon and His Sons

This work is predicted to be the original version of Laocoon and His Sons from the second century BCE, although some argue that it is a brilliant copy commissioned by an well known Roman patron in the first century CE. This intricate sculptural composition depicts a scene from the Trojan War when the priest, Laocoon, warned the Trojans not to bring the giant wooden horse left behind by the Greeks within their walls. The gods who supported the Greeks retaliated by sending serpents from the sea to destroy Laocoon and his sons as they walked along the sea shore. The struggling figures, anguished faces, intricate diagonal movements, and skillful unification of diverse forces in a complex composition all suggest a strong relationship between Rhodian and Pergamene sculptors. Although, sculpted in the round, the Laocoon was composed to be seen frontally and from close range, and the three figures resemble the relief sculpture on the altar of Zeus from Pergamon. This work epitomizes the classical structure of Hellenistic era. The intensity of emotion, showing pain and suffering, open composition, realism, torsion, and deep crevices (especially in the muscles) are all characteristics that define this figure.

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