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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

The “Severe” style of sculpture marks the transition from the Archaic to the early Classical period. This style shows a vested interest in naturalism, which was a more subdued and realistic departure from the Archaic. Subjects were now on the verge of emotional expression and poses that imply motion.

The Severe style is a product of much experimentation. The “Archaic smile” and plank-like poses were replaced by sculpture that displayed sharp facial features and possessed staring eyes filled with precious stones. Clothed sculptures now donned simplified drapery, marking a return to the plainer “Doric” garments. Bodily forms were significantly more defined as anatomical details were attended to by the artists of this period. The contrapposto pose, involving one leg held back and supporting the body with the other leg free, allows the upper torso to swing off the body’s axis and thus lends a more realistic feeling to the piece.

This period also brings experimentation with bronze as an artistic medium. Using the lost-wax technique, artists could create sculpture more durable than stone, and allowed for more expressive poses. Arms could be outstretched and bodies more contorted with the use of a support no longer required. Sculpture in the Severe style, unlike in previous periods, could be viewed “in the round” and not limited to viewing from the front only.

Some notable examples of the Severe:

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by Harry Anastopulos

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