Carol C. Mattusch— 1997 James R. Wiseman Book Award

Award Citation:

The Archaeological Institute of America is pleased to present the James R. Wiseman Book Award for 1997 to Carol C. Mattusch for her book Classical Bronzes: The Art and Craft of Greek and Roman Statuary (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1996). Mattusch's work is a fundamental reexamination of the concepts of "original" versus "copy'' in ancient sculpture and of evidence for the division of labor between sculptors' and founders' workshops. Based on meticulous scholarship, but addressed to a wide readership, Classical Bronzes describes how the indirect lost-wax casting process could, and more importantly did, permit the production of several statues from one original model. Her interdisciplinary work includes a study of techniques and practices in the manufacture of Greek and Roman bronze statuary, scientific examinations of surviving works, and reappraisals of other ancient evidence, such as images of bronze-working in vase painting and discussions of this manufacturing process in ancient literary sources.

Mattusch's theory of "serial production" provides new insight into the study of sculptures such as the Eponymous Heroes in the Agora and the Riace Bronzes. She argues that "serially produced" sculptures were generally based on a limited number of models; each one was individuated by minor manipulations in pose or by the change of certain features, as well as the addition of attributes. The resultant visual similarity was an essential part of the statues' meaning and vital to their recognition as gods, heroes, or rulers by an ancient viewer. In the case of the Riace Bronzes, the "serial production" theory makes a plausible case for the contemporaneity of these two statues, previously considered sufficiently different in appearance for some scholars to have dated them a generation apart. Mattusch's work forces a fundamental rethinking of the use of stylistic analysis in Greek sculpture.

The book is part of Mattusch's ongoing research program that began with the excavation of bronze-working areas in the Athenian Agora and Corinth, published in Greek Bronze Statuary: From the Beginnings through the Fifth Century B.C.  (Ithaca, 1988). A recent exhibition catalogue, The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1996), provides a detailed study of 55 large-scale bronze sculptures. This exhibit also generated a video, Myth, Man, and Metal (Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Cincinnati, 1996), for undergraduate instruction, and an international symposium, to be published as From the Parts to the Whole: Acta of the 13th International Bronze Congress 28-31 May 1996 (JRA Suppl. forthcoming). New work by Mattusch includes The Victorious Youth (Malibu, 1997), about the Getty Bronze, and a forthcoming study of the corpus of sculptures found in the Villa dei Papiri, Herculaneum.

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