Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
The study of Hellenistic sculpture is often based upon its division into local schools centering around Pergamon, Alexandria and Rhodes. The underlying premise of the present study is that if a distinctly Rhodian Hellenistic school of sculpture existed, it should be possible to define its characteristics by means of a study of the extant sculpture of known Rhodian provenance, supplemented by the preserved statue bases. If it is not possible to demonstrate recurring technical, iconographic and stylistic traits within the Rhodian material, it may be assumed that the theory of regional schools should not be applied to Rhodes.
One hundred and sixteen pieces of sculpture are catalogued and discussed. They consist of sculptures in the Rhodes Archaeological Museum, and the Lindos excavation sculpture now in Copenhagen and Istanbul. The statue bases from Lindos are analyzed for the information they yield about the now missing statues they once held and about the sculptors who signed them. An attempt is then made to correlate the evidence of the extant sculpture with that of the statue bases, and to correlate the entire body of the material evidence with the literary sources.
The preserved marble sculpture is characterized principally by the frequent use of non-Rhodian marble, probably of Cycladic
origin, the rather small size of many pieces, the extensive and skilful use of the piecing technique, the employment of sometimes drastic undercutting for stylistic effect, and a general technical competence. A wide variety of types, stylistic devices and eclectic tendencies can be found, but several types known in multiple replicas can be isolated as specifically Rhodian creations. Most of the marble sculpture can be dated, mainly on stylistic grounds, to the late Hellenistic period. The statue bases give evidence of a continuous pattern of bronze votive and honorary portrait statuary from the fourth century into the first century of the Christian era. There is clear evidence of local sculptural production in the bronze portraits, which must have been locally produced because of their very nature, in the occasional use of local Rhodian stone, in the presence of multiple replicas of individual types, in the repetition of small stylistic and technical traits which allows some of the marble sculptures to be grouped into workshops, and in the epigraphic evidence of families of sculptors resident in Rhodes for several generations.
It is concluded that the sculptors, both Rhodian and foreign, producing statuary in Rhodes were working within and reflecting general Hellenistic sculptural trends, but with a definite strain of local originality, and influenced by local technical limitations. The statuary is best understood not as a school in the artistic sense, reflecting great works mentioned in the literary sources, but as a highly competent substratum of sculpture produced for local votive, honorary and decorative needs and tastes.
Merker, Gloria S. "Studies in the Hellenistic Sculpture of the Island of Rhodes." PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, 1970.