Starke Typen
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Tough Types

Portraits of Ancient Greeks
 © Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek München, Foto: Renate Kühling
June 19, 2019 - September 27, 2020
Altes Museum
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The portrait as a depiction of a real, specific, historical person is one of the key achievements of Greek art. Its influence stretches from the era of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance into the present day, forming the foundations of Western traditions of portraiture. However Greek portraits are not photo-realist depictions conveying the true appearance of an individual, but are rather bound to cultural types, characterising their subjects according to age, social status and affiliations to a particular group.

The decisive factors are the prevailing ideals that inform the pictures, the occasion and location of their installation, the qualities of the respective media (statues, reliefs, vases, etc.), as well as the strategic intentions of the individual who commissioned them. Individualising characteristics made the portrait distinctive, but there was no need for them to be true to life. The identity of the subject was given by inscriptions revealing their names.

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