How does Praxitiles’ Late Classical period object, Hermes & Infant Dionysos (c. 350 BCE), differ from the Spear Bearer?

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Hermes and the Infant Dionyos was made later than the Spear Bearer, and as such it shows a change to a more human, naturalistic style from the idealism shown in the earlier work. This tendency characterizes the change from High Classical to Late Classical Greek art. Yet both statues feature idealized human beauty, and both use contrapposto, counterbalanced, poses.

The Hermes sculpture shows Hermes holding the baby Dionyos cradled in the crook of his left arm. He looks gently upon the infant. The right arm, now broken off, would have held a bunch of grapes (as it does in other examples). Although these are both gods, their humanity is stressed along with the affectionate relationship of a man taking care of a child.

The Spear Bearer, in contrast, shows an idealized, perfect man, standing alone. He seems to be walking, caught in mid-stride. This statue demonstrates symmetry as well as contrapposto. The proportions of the symmetria scheme are in evidence, with the shoulders and hips balancing each other. In his perfection, he is not humanized the way Hermes is.

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