Ancient Greek art was collected in ancient Rome, studied during the Renaissance and formalized in the 19th century. It is the most influential art ever made.

A beginner's guide to ancient Greece

Rio 2016, London 2012, Beijing 2008, Olympia 776 B.C.E. find out how the ancient pan-Hellenic games inspired our modern Olympiad. Then learn to identify the classical orders and you will never look at your city or town the same way.

Pottery

Almost no ancient Greek wall painting survives, fortunately, their magnificent painted vases can tell us a great deal about lost wall painting as well as Greek culture and technology. This tutorial traces Greek pottery from the Geometric through to the Attic red figure style.

Daedalic and Archaic

This tutorial traces the representation of the human body in monumental Greek sculpture from the earliest Egyptian influence to the increasing naturalism that lays the foundation for the Classical style.

Classical

By around 500 B.C.E. ‘rule by the people,’ or democracy, had emerged in the city of Athens. Following the defeat of a Persian invasion in 480-479 B.C.E., mainland Greece and Athens in particular entered into a golden age. In drama and philosophy, literature, art and architecture Athens was second to none. The city’s empire stretched from the western Mediterranean to the Black Sea, creating enormous wealth. This paid for one of the biggest public building projects ever seen in Greece, which included the Parthenon.

Hellenistic

Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C.E. leaving a vast empire to his generals, the Diadochi (successors). The Diadochi divided Alexander's empire amongst themselves—the Hellenistic dynasties of the Seleucids in the Near East, the Ptolemies in Egypt, the Antigonids in Macedonia, and the wealthy Attalid kings of Pergamon who ruled most of western Asia Minor. Greek culture flourished across an enormous area, but at the same time, these "Hellenized" peoples infused Greek art with a drama and breadth beyond anything the Greeks had previously produced.
Bronze statue of Eros sleeping
Met curator Seán Hemingway on the purity of love in Bronze statue of Eros sleeping from Greece’s Hellenistic Period, 3rd–2nd century B.C.E. The Hellenistic period introduced the accurate characterization of age. Young children enjoyed great favor, whether in mythological form, as baby Herakles or Eros, or in genre scenes, playing with each other or with pets. This Eros, god of love, has been brought down to earth and disarmed, a conception considerably different from that of the powerful, often cruel, and capricious being so often addressed in Archaic poetry. One of the few bronze statues to have survived from antiquity, this figure of a plump baby in relaxed pose conveys a sense of the immediacy and naturalistic detail that the medium of bronze made possible. He is clearly based on firsthand observation. The support on which the god rests is a modern addition, but the work originally would have had a separate base, most likely of stone.  This statue is the finest example of its kind. Judging from the large number of extant replicas, the type was popular in Hellenistic and, especially, Roman times. In the Roman period, Sleeping Eros statues decorated villa gardens and fountains. Their function in the Hellenistic period is less clear. They may have been used as dedications within a sanctuary of Aphrodite or possibly may have been erected in a public park or private, even royal, garden. View this work on metmuseum.org. Are you an educator? Here's a related lesson plan. For additional educator resources from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, visit Find an educator resource.