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Caryatid and column from the Erechtheion

Video transcript

we're in the British Museum and we're looking at one of the caryatids from the erect theum from the Acropolis in Athens yeah that's a lot of information and I Caryatid is a human figure acting as column she looks like a column she does her drapery falls in what almost looks like the fluting of a column those vertical ridges and because she stands in contrapposto with one weight-bearing leg which is the one that looks like a column and one free leg so the knee juts forward that drapery is allowed to fall completely free of the body below this very subtle and very sensitively handled swayed to her body right the country posture is not just in the legs but even the hips which you can't actually see because of all the cloth but which are referred to yeah this nice circular form around her hip where that kind of just bunches right that tunic that she's wearing and that pulls down around her waist falling from her breasts and in a very graceful way it's interesting because we were talking about the sway of the body but by the time you get up to the capital up to her head she's straightened out and she has to be you know you can really get a sense of the even the specificity the the weight the thickness of the cloth you know the way peplos worked it was pinned at the shoulders but you can really get a sense that this is not a very thin fabric it's got a certain heaviness to it it's interesting if you look at the porch where this came from there are six caryatids altogether four facing forward and the two on the right opposed the two on the left in terms of the contrapposto I believe with the weight-bearing leg on the outside always to make it feel more stable this is sort of sensitivity to harmony balance yeah absolutely and there's a nobility to her that it's very much what we've been seeing when we also looked at the Parthenon sculptures again we're in fifth century BC Greece the Classical era and sense of ideal perfect beauty and nobility and monumentality but I also find it really interesting this idea of conflating an architectural element with the human body is that something that is a very ancient idea and here it's done in the most sort of direct way later the Romans will we'll talk about architecture in terms of the human body not only in terms of scale but also in terms of proportion and here it's taken to the most literal extreme and within the same room is a fabulous ionic column also from the erechtheum which is very graceful and grows more slender as it rises toward the top of the lovely ionic capital with decorative carving underneath but having this column here is a really important reminder of the scale of those buildings on the Acropolis because when you're standing in the museum you forget these buildings are on top of a hill in Athens and the way there's a nice skylight above it because you begin to give you a sense of what it's like in natural light to see the stone and this is as you said an ionic column which is a much more slender much more graceful column than the sort of heavy Doric the massiveness that we see in the Parthenon which is just across the way on the Acropolis you know sometimes and I think this is a little sexist but sometimes this order the ionic is referred to as a kind of more feminine more elegant more graceful more decorative and of course the female figures are replacing the actual column so there's this kind of synthesis of those two and the lovely fluting that makes this to this wonderful play of light and dark across the column looting and and unlike the Doric there is a base the column doesn't rise directly out of the style of life there's this sort of footing and of course that beautiful scrolled capital you