Silanion (gr. Σιλανίων), a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC.
He was noted as a portrait-sculptor. Of two of his works, his heads of Plato and of Sappho, we possess what seem to be copies. Both are of simple ideal type, the latter of course not strictly a portrait, since Sappho lived before the age of portraits. The best copy of the Plato is in the Vatican.
The statues of Silanion belong to two classes, ideal and actual portraits; the former again including heroes and men. Of these the most celebrated was his dying Jocasta, in which a deadly paleness was given to the face by the mixture of silver with the bronze; a remarkable example of the technical refinement, and of the principle of actual imitation which characterised the art of this period. We cannot conceive of Pheidias or Polycleitus descending to such an artifice (Plut. de Aud. Poet. 3, Quaest. Conv. v. 1; comp. de Pyth. Or. 2 ; respecting the general subject of the colouring of bronze statues, see Müller, Archäol. d. Kunst, § 306. n. 3, ed. Welcker). He also made a fine statue of Achilles (Plin. l. c. § 21), and one of Theseus (Plut. Thes. 4). Tatian ascribes to him statues of the lyric poetesses Sappho and Corinna (Tatian. ad Graec. 52, pp. 113, 114, ed. Worth ; where by Σαπφὼ τὴν ἑταίραν Tatian undoubtedly means the poetess and not, as some fancy, another person, a courtezan of Eresos, of whose existence there is no proof). His statue of Sappho stood in the prytancium at Syracuse in the time of Verres, who carried it off; and Cicero alludes to it in terms of the highest praise (Verr. iv. 57).
Silanion also made a statue of Plato, which Mithridates, the son of Rhodobatus, set up in the Academy. (Diog. Laërt. iii. 2.)
Among the actual portraits of Silanion, the most celebrated appears to have been that of the statuary Apollodorus, who was so habitually dissatisfied with his own works, that he frequently broke them in pieces. The vexation of the disappointed artist was so vividly expressed in Silanion's statue, that Pliny says "nec hominem ex aere fecit, sed iracundiam" (l. c. § 21). Pliny also mentions his statue of a superintendent of the palaestra exercising the athletes. He made also three statues of Olympic victors; namely Satyrus of Elis, and Telestes and Demaratus of Messene. (Paus. vi. 4. § 3, 14. §§ 1, 3.)
Probably this Silanion was the same as the one whom Vitruvius (vii. praef. § 14) mentions among those who wrote praecepta symmetriarum ; for, although that phrase no doubt refers especially to the proportions of the architectural orders, yet it must also be understood as including the wider subject of proportion in art generally, as is evident both from the mention of Euphranor in the list, and also from the manner in which Vitruvius discusses the subject of architectural proportions in connection with the laws of proportion derived from the human figure (i. 2, iii. 1).
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