Friday, March 9, 2012

Cyprus Exhibition, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cypriot sculpture flourished during the early Classical period and a number of unique examples in the Cesnola Collection of the Metropolitan Museum betray both Greek and Eastern stylistic tendencies. Due to the fact that Cyprus does not have any source of marble, most sculptures produced on the island are made of local limestone, or terracotta. Only the wealthiest patrons could afford sculpture. 

Classical Cypriot jewellery, especially the delicately rendered gold pendants and earrings, demonstrate a blend of Greek and local traditions. Carved gems often depict characteristically Greek representations. 
Cypriot potter shows a certain independence maintained by local craftsmen on the island. The large quantities of Greek pottery that have been found in certain tombs, including Marion, Amathus and Salamis indicate the fact that a number of Greek potters and painters were also working in Cyprus during the Classical period.

Cypriot art in the Classical period reflects the mixture of native and foreign influences. The sculpture follows Greek traditions but in a rather old-fashioned and exotic way, while at the same time a preference for local limestone rather than marble is another distinctive feature of the Cypriot school. 

In the minor arts there is often found a blend of Greek decoration with local custom, as witnessed by the massive and highly ornate loop earrings favoured on Cyprus. The wearing of such earrings is unknown in the Greek world. Likewise, the Cypriot ceramic tradition continued to flourish, producing a whole series of painted, figural pitches that again show the independence maintained by artists and craftsmen on Cyprus despite their Persian and Greek masters.   

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