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Work Fragment of the frieze of the Temple of Artemis Leukophryene at Magnesia ad Maeandrum

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Hellenistic Art (3rd-1st centuries BC)

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Hellenistic Art (3rd-1st centuries BC)

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

The forty-three panels of the Ionic frieze of the Temple of Artemis Leukophryene ("with white eyebrows") at Magnesia ad Maeandrum make up the largest group of architectural sculptures in the Louvre. Faithful to the patterns and conventions of the fourth century BC, the reliefs depict an amazonomachy, or battle between Greek warriors and Amazons. The edifice was mentioned by Vitruvius as being the work of the architect Hermogenes who developed certain innovations circa 200-190 BC.

The Temple of Artemis Leukophryene at Magnesia ad Maeandrum

Since 1843, the Louvre has housed one of the most important groups of architectural sculptures in the world. This marble relief is one of the forty-three panels and fragments in the museum's collections that, along with numerous other sculpted panels, decorated the frieze of the Temple of Artemis at Magnesia ad Maeanderum, southeast of Ephesus. The temple was built in the early second century BC and consecrated to a local deity, Artemis Leukophryene, the goddess "with white eyebrows," known only to the Magnesians. Some people consider her to be the descendant of an ancient Phrygian mother goddess. Others compare her with the Artemis honored at Ephesus. She probably had the general features of Artemis (huntress, mistress and protector of animals, etc.) but was also considered the founder and benefactress of the town.

A building designed by the architect Hermogenes

Vitruvius mentioned the Temple of Artemis Leukophryene, an Ionic building with eight columns along the façade, as one of the major works of the architect and theoretician Hermogenes who, circa 200 BC, developed a number of innovations. The pseudo-dipteral layout used from the sixth century BC onwards both in Sicily and Asia Minor made it possible to move the peristyle colonnade out, giving the building the amplitude of old temples surrounded by a forest of columns. The design was governed by precise calculations. Hermogenes favored eustyle, that is to say columns two and a quarter diameters apart. The pediment of the temple had openings to allow the goddess to appear. Finally, a continuous frieze nearly 175 meters long, whose reliefs are now in Paris, Istanbul, and Berlin, ran around the building - a feature hitherto unknown in Ionic temples in Asia Minor.

An Ionic frieze decorated with an amazonomachy

The amazonomachy is conventional and repetitive, with groups of Greek warriors and Amazons fighting on foot and on horseback. The iconography is still very similar to the patterns devised in the fourth century BC, as on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, although the proportions of the figures are less massive in the Magnesia frieze. The violence of the fighting is rendered by oblique lines giving rhythm to the composition - rearing horses, the positions of duelists, and wounded fighters collapsed on the ground.

Bibliography

Hamiaux M., Les sculptures grecques, II, Paris, 1998, p.276, p.287-309, n 354-396.
Davesne A., La frise du temple d'Artémis à Magnésie du Méandre, Paris, 1982.
Yaylali A., Der fries des Artemisions von Magnesia am Maeander, MDAI I, suppl.15, 1976.

Technical description

  • Fragment of the frieze of the Temple of Artemis Leukophryene at Magnesia ad Maeandrum

    Early second century BC

    Temple of Artemis Leukophryene, Magnesia ad Maeandrum (Turkey)

    Magnesia ad Maeandrum, Asia Minor (Turkey)

  • High relief and bas-relief, marble

    H. 0.81 m.; L. 3.77 m

  • Mission by C. Texier, 1843

    Amazonomachy (panel 13)

    Ma 2881

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

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