December 15: The impact of Alexander the Great on the arts of Greece

The ninth Annual Byvanck Lecture by Prof. Dr. Olga Palagia

Tuesday 15 december 2015 at 8.00 PM at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, The Netherlands

Alexander left his mark on the arts of Greece in a variety of ways. His image was commemorated by means of portrait statues. The first ones were commissioned from Athenian artists when he was Philip II’s heir and were displayed alongside the portrait of his father. When he became king, he chose the Sikyonian Lysippos as his court sculptor and this would have affected the style of the depictions, for we know that Lysippos had based his portraiture on life masks.

As Alexander’s royal image started to acquire Asian elements after his conquest of Persia, he had himself depicted by the painter Apelles with the thunderbolt of Zeus, and was eventually portrayed seated in a Persian-style chariot.

Alexander’s battles against Darius were represented both accurately and inaccurately, by artists who had known him and by those who knew him by hearsay. We thus have late-fourth-century depictions of Alexander with a beard or with short curly hair, whereas he was clean-shaven and had long straight hair. His youthful image became the prototype for the depiction of divine images, notably Helios, and river gods throughout the Hellenistic period.


About the speaker

Olga Palagia is a graduate of the University of Athens with a DPhil from the University of Oxford, where she was taught by John Boardman and Martin Robertson. She has worked as an assistant at the Acropolis Museum, Athens and is now a Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Athens. She has been a visiting fellow of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and of Princeton University, and has lectured widely in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. She is an honorary fellow of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, a corresponding member of the Archaeological Institute of America and the German Archaeological Institute and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (London). As a member of the Committee for the Restoration of the Acropolis Monuments, she was actively involved in the restoration of the Nike temple.

She has published extensively on Greek sculpture of all periods and on the painting of Macedonia. Her books include Euphranor (1980) and The Pediments of the Parthenon (1993). She has edited Greek Offerings in Honour of John Boardman (1997), Greek Sculpture: Function, Materials and Techniques from the Archaic and Classical Periods (2006) and Art in Athens during the Peloponnesian War (2009). She has co-edited 11 volumes of conference proceedings and honorary volumes. She is currently preparing the De Gruyter Handbook of Greek Sculpture.

Prof. Dr. Roald Docter will introduce the lecture and give the opportunity for questions and discussion afterwards.


Byvanck Lecture

Held for the first time in 2007, the Byvanck Lecture is the result of a generous donation from the bequest of the late Lily Byvanck-Quarles van Ufford, who has for many years been the driving force of our periodical BABESCH (formerly Bulletin Antieke Beschaving). The foundation set up in her name aims to further the scholarship of Archaeology and the quality of the publication she held so dear - in other words for the past to have a future, and so continue her work.

The subject of the Byvanck Lecture alternates each year between Greek and Roman.

The Byvanck Lecture is organised in conjunction with the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, and thanks to the Byvanck Foundation the admission is free.

For optimal organization, we appreciate confirmation of your attendance by contacting Mr Andrea Perugini via e-mail: byvancklecture.

Last Modified: 19-11-2015