A History of Greek Art
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Offering a unique blend of thematic and chronological investigation, this highly illustrated, engaging text explores the rich historical, cultural, and social contexts of 3,000 years of Greek art, from the Bronze Age through the Hellenistic period.

  • Uniquely intersperses chapters devoted to major periods of Greek art from the Bronze Age through the Hellenistic period, with chapters containing discussions of important contextual themes across all of the periods
  • Contextual chapters illustrate how a range of factors, such as the urban environment, gender, markets, and cross-cultural contact, influenced the development of art
  • Chronological chapters survey the appearance and development of key artistic genres and explore how artifacts and architecture of the time reflect these styles
  • Offers a variety of engaging and informative pedagogical features to help students navigate the subject, such as timelines, theme-based textboxes, key terms defined in margins, and further readings.
  • Information is presented clearly and contextualized so that it is accessible to students regardless of their prior level of knowledge
  • A book companion website is available at www.wiley.gom/go/greekart with the following resources: PowerPoint slides, glossary, and timeline


Mark D. Stansbury-O'Donnell is a Professor of Art History at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. He is the author of Pictorial Narrative in Ancient Greek Art (1999), Vase Painting, Gender, and Social Identity in Archaic Athens (2006), and Looking at Greek Art (2011).


Illustrations xiii

Acknowledgments xxi

Timeline xxiii

About the Website xxvii

Maps xxviii

1 Introduction and Issues in the History of Greek Art 1

An Alternative Mini-History of Greek Art 6

Some Questions to Consider for this Book 10

The Plan of this Book 15

A Few Notes About Using this Book 16

Textbox: Stylistic Analysis and Sir John Beazley 17

References 18

Further Reading 18

2 The Early and Middle Bronze Ages c. 3100–1600 BCE 19

Timeline 20

Chronology, Regions, Periods, and Pottery Analysis 21

Early Cycladic and Minoan Periods, c. 3100–2000 BCE 24

Early to Middle Helladic (c. 3100–1675 BCE) 27

Protopalatial and Neopalatial Crete 32

The Cyclades 39

Middle Helladic to the Late Helladic I Shaft Graves 43

Textbox: The Eruption of Thera and Debates over Absolute Chronology 46

References 47

Further Reading 47

3 The Late Bronze Age II–III (c. 1600–1075 BCE) 48

Timeline 49

Late Minoan (LM II to LM III) 51

Late Helladic Architecture 52

Late Helladic Pottery and Terracottas 59

Textbox: The Trojan War 66

References 67

Further Reading 67

4 The Sub-Mycenaean, Protogeometric, and Geometric Periods (c. 1075–700 BCE) 68

Timeline 69

Pottery 71

Sculpture 84

Architecture 89

Textbox: What is in a Name? 95

References 96

Further Reading 96

5 Contexts I: Civic, Domestic, and Funerary 97

Timeline 98

The City and its Spaces 99

The Agora 105

Houses and Domestic Spaces 111

Textiles 115

The Symposion 118

Graves 122

Textbox: Agency 127

References 128

Further Reading 129

6 The Seventh Century (c. 725/700–625/600 BCE) 130

Timeline 131

Greek Pottery Painting and the Mediterranean 137

Metalwork and Terracotta 143

Architecture and its Decoration 145

Textbox: Network Theory 150

References 151

Further Reading 151

7 Contexts II: Sanctuaries and Architecture 152

Timeline 153

Sanctuaries 154

Temples and the Architectural Orders 161

A Mini-History of the Greek Temple 167

Other Buildings of the Sanctuary 170

Rituals and Offerings 172

Textbox: Ritual Analysis and Theoria 177

References 177

Further Reading 178

8 The Sixth Century (c. 625/600–480 BCE) 179

Timeline 180

Architecture and Architectural Sculpture 181

Free-Standing Sculpture 190

Other Media 197

Painted Pottery 199

Textbox: Color in Greek Sculpture 207

References 208

Further Reading 208

9 Narrative 209

Timeline 210

Narrative and Artistic Style 212

Narrative Time and Space 214

Viewing Context 220

Art and Literature 222

Choice of Mood and Moment 225

Symbolic and Universal Aspects of Narrative 229

Textbox: Interpretation and Information Theory 233

References 234

Further Reading 234

10 The Fifth Century (c. 480–400 BCE) 235

Timeline 236

Architecture, Architectural Sculpture, and Relief 244

The Acropolis at Athens 246

Late Fifth-Century Sculpture 253

Painting 255

Textbox: The Parthenon Marbles and Cultural Patrimony 262

References 263

Further Reading 264

11 The Production of Greek Art and its Markets 265

Timeline 266

Production: Architecture 267

Production: Architectural Sculpture 269

Production: Sculpture 271

Production: Pottery 273

Wares, Markets, and Distribution 276

Artists and Workshops 279

Textbox: The Value of Greek Art 284

References 284

Further Reading 285

12 The Fourth Century to c. 330 BCE 286

Timeline 287

Architecture 288

Sculpture 293

Art and Individuals 299

Pottery 305

Mosaic and Fresco 310

Textbox: The Copy Hypothesis 317

References 318

Further Reading 318

13 Identity 319

Timeline 320

Gender 322

Women’s Lives 324

Women in Public 329

Men and Youths: Gender and Sexuality 331

Interaction: Class, Civic, and Ethnic Identity 335

Textbox: Money Purses, Sex, and Identity 339

References 340

Further Reading 340

14 The Hellenistic Period c. 330–30 BCE 341

Timeline 342

Characteristics of the Hellenistic Period 347

Cities and Architecture 348

Sculptural Styles and Dating 355

Theatricism and Narrative 358

Representations and Portrayal 363

Painting 369

The Private and Personal Realm 374

Textbox: The Riace Warriors as Hellenistic Sculpture 378

References 379

Further Reading 379

15 Epilogue 380

Glossary 388

Index 395


“Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell has written a thoroughly contemporary history of Greek art – the first that effectively integrates discussions of context with sensitive analysis of style. It provides students with a rich introduction to the fabric of ancient Greek culture.” Tom Carpenter, Ohio University

“Stansbury-O’Donnell’s admirable and innovative history deserves special praise for the fact that it devotes as much attention to ancient Greek art’s cultural context as to its chronological and aesthetic development.” J.J. Pollitt, Yale University

 “Engaging introduction to Greek art…offers diachronic framework interspersed with chapters on synchronic themes, enhanced with comparative timelines including major monuments, definitions in margins, and profuse high-quality illustrations.” Barbara A. Barletta, University of Florida

“A marvelous book, beautifully written and lavishly illustrated, it presents a well-rounded narrative of ancient Greek material culture. Combining a traditional diachronic approach with a fresh thematic coverage of the “contexts” of ancient Greek art, it provides a comprehensive understanding of the Greeks and their world for students at all levels.” Kim S. Shelton, University of California, Berkeley

 “One of the many things that makes Stansbury-O’Donnell’s new survey of Greek art so refreshing – and so important – is his commitment to deep contexts. Specifically, he challenges students and teachers to think beyond the typical evolutionary model of ‘ancient Greek art history,’ and instead brilliantly focuses their attention on the rich cultural matrix that Greek art reflected, generated, and inspired.”  Peter Schultz, Concordia College

"Stansbury-O’Odonnell has created an up-to-date and stimulating volume that presents an intelligible chronological survey of Greek Art, interspersed with sections on contextual issues that examine the material from multiple synchronic perspectives and standpoints.  This work will provide a valuable starting point for discussion among students on issues ancient and modern." Craig I. Hardiman, University of Waterloo, Canada

“With Stansbury-O’Donnell’s skills in the interpretation of Greek art and the critical analysis of its historiography setting the tone throughout, this book provides readers at all levels with an insightful, thought-provoking introduction. Its clear structure, exquisite illustrations and extensive supporting materials make it the most comprehensive undergraduate textbook currently on the market.” Katharina Lorenz, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

“Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell’s A History of Greek Art presents a wide-ranging, magisterial, and superbly illustrated account of Greek art from the beginning of the Bronze Age to the end of the Hellenistic period. Its clear structure and exceedingly well chosen examples are most useful to students and teachers alike.” Thomas Mannack, Beazley Archive, Oxford, United Kingdom