Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

Formal Analysis of Statue of Eros Sleeping

Category God, Greece, Museum, Sculpture
Essay type Analysis
Words 920 (3 pages)

The statue of Eros sleeping is one of the key attractions in the metropolitan museum collections for the lovers of ancient Greek history. A glimpse at the magnificent work of art takes one away, far back in time to the Hellenistic age. Clearly it is one of the most remarkable works in the Metropolitan Museums total collection.

The statues sculptor is not known but the time of its making has been correctly identified. Moreover historical studies have revealed much surrounding the statue of Eros as a sleeping baby. The Bronze Statue of Eros Sleeping dates back from the 3rd century B.C. to the early 1st century A.D.

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Recovered from the Rhode Island, the statue is one of the few surviving bronze art pieces from the Greek period to have endured the test of the centuries in an almost flawless state. [1]

The statue, which measured 85.2 cm in length, is displayed in the Greek wing of the museum. Undoubtedly, the Bronze Statue of Eros Sleeping is noteworthy not only for physical aspects but also for its iconographic significance in art history, particularly in understanding Greek culture of which the statue was once a part of.

The ability of the statue to last for so long shows its sculptors determination to make a lasting piece that he no doubt meant to preserve the cherished culture of the time.

The Greek bronze sculptures that were made at the time were complexes of geometric forms that resulted in the making of peculiar sculptures that distinguished the Greek culture. The sculptures of the Greek were different from the sculptures of the other contemporary cultures such as the Romans culture.

According to carol C. Mattusch, who is a leading authority in the study of the Greek ancient bronze sculptures, the bronze sculptures that were made at the Hellenistic period were made with a certain design that the artists intended to carry a specific message.

In the case of the gods sculptures the link with the people was the power the gods were believed to have over the people. In the case of the statue of Eros sleeping there was no particular buyer but it was meant for the people of the Greek region as a whole.[2]

In its location in the Metropolitan Museum, the Bronze Statue of Eros Sleeping commands the viewer’s attention by being a freestanding figure that makes it stand out in the empty exhibition space. It is best seen from the frontal angle, where the viewer has a full view of the entire statue. The statues composition also demands that it be seen from a small distance in order to get a full sense of the effect of the statue against its surroundings.

Taken on its own, the Bronze Statue of Eros Sleeping presents an exemplary case study of the rendering of human forms in Greek Art. Here, the artist displays a keen knowledge of the material, and is able to take advantage of bronze as medium in making the statue as life-like as possible as it gives the statue a sense of fluidity and movement.

On the other hand, bronze also enables the statue to gain a sense of mass and weight, which is appropriate to the figure of Eros in deep slumber. Likewise, the bronze medium allowed the artist to manipulate the natural qualities of the medium to create the human form.

The medium of bronze is a powerful agent for the recognition of the immediate environment in which the Greek people in the Hellenistic period lived. It helps make a symbol potent of both religious and secular values. As one of the few bronze statutes that have survived from the antiquity it is an enduring icon of the naturalistic detail of the age. The result of the presence of such a statue is history in the firsthand.

The statue is deemed to have had a base that was carved out of stone in place of the support it lies on in the museum. The base, just like the statue, would probably be a rendition of comfortable material in work of art just as befits the sleeping baby deity. As a god of love he was deemed to have such qualities as bodily comeliness and to be the bearer of graceful deeds.

The child image would not be a symbol of the god of love without the addition of wings to the statue. The statue of an innocent child in slumber with curled hairs and other details of a well fed child would be too plain for a god. Greek gods were believed to be spirits that had wings that were useful for them to fly from one destination to another.

Clearly, the artist was able to engender movement by using forms that complement the use of open lines. Hence, one of the most notable aspects of the statue is the use of organic forms that mimic the natural curves of the human body to depict the cherubic appeal of a healthy child.

There is also evidence that the artist considered the influence of light on the statues composition. For instance, Eros face is only partially exposed to the light, which gives him an air of mystery as half of his face is hidden in the dark. The retention of the mediums color also gives it the contrasts in hue created by the natural play of light on the statue.

[1] Hemingway, Sean. 2007. Hellenistic bronze sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum: from gods to grotesques. Apollo. P. 27

[2] Mattusch, carol. Classical Bronzes: The Art and Craft of Greek and Roman Statuary, Cornell University Press, 1996, p. 164


Formal Analysis of Statue of Eros Sleeping essay

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What is so special about the sculpture sleeping Eros?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has on display as the centre piece of a unique and very special exhibition, an ancient bronze sculpture entitled Sleeping Eros. It is considered by curators as one of the finest examples of its kind anywhere in the world and, very definitely in a class of its own.

How were the sculptures of Eros displayed in Rome?

Particularly notable are the diverse contexts in which these sculptures were displayed. As in the Hellenistic period, statues of sleeping Eros continued to be offered as dedications at sanctuaries, but they also decorated Roman public baths, fountains, and private villas.

How did Ancient Greek philosophers view Eros?

Ancient Greek philosophers reflected on Eros and his power and pondered his very centrality to human existence. Although vases in figural form were known in Greek art since early Archaic times, during the fourth century B.C., a particularly elaborate combination of vase and terracotta developed originally embellished with color.

How did the sleeping Eros change over time?

As time progressed he turned into a rather chubby mischievous little boy. The popularity of the image of the Sleeping Eros through time has been a major source of inspiration for the proliferation of putti and cherubs from antiquity to the present day. Guido Reni produced paintings of the dozing deity, whose face was entirely angelic.

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