By Keith Christiansen
Many black and white and colour photographs of work. contains background and outlines.
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Extra resources for A Caravaggio Rediscovered The Lute Player
The head/neck of the old Neolithic figures had been conceived as a single form—often dwarfed by the massive body below— on the front of which the nose and chin were characteristically the only facial features added. The head/neck of the Plastiras image is clearly rooted in this approach: the backline remains continuous, without or with only a slight differentiation of the two parts, but the face has taken on a quite separate identity. From the front the head is wider than and therefore made distinct from the neck by the presence of carved ears.
The difficulty arises because the development of the EC sculptural tradition was a continuous, albeit hardly linear, process, with input from many individuals. The great wealth of material, little of it from systematic excavations, does not always allow the imposition of clear divisions. Especially in the transition from one variety to another, when figures tend to be a blend of characteristics of both, and also in the case of fragmentary works, it is often difficult to decide on the correct label.
On the harp player the arms and hands, complete with fingernails, are remarkably—and, for some, disturbingly—realistic; on the female figure the opposite is true. On the harp player the legs and feet are much less dramatically shaped and detailed than the arms and hands: there is little indication of musculature in the calves, and the toes are simple grooves, very different from the deeply cut fingers that stand out on the harp frame, clearly distinguished from each other in sharp relief. Whereas the arms and hands, with their thumbs carved completely in the round, give the fullest possible expression to the precanonical interest in anatomy, the legs and feet appear cast in a new mold, as it were.