Describe the object in detail. What is the medium? What is the color and size? If there are human figures what are they doing? How are they posed? What are they wearing? What are the expressions on their faces?
According to the website of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, The Hope Hygieia is a marble, life-sized statue of the ancient goddess of health that was originally discovered in the ancient Roman port of Ostia in 1797. It was originally owned by the British collector Sir Thomas Hope before being sold to William Randolph Hearst, who donated it to the city of Los Angeles in 1950. Over the years, the statue has been restored, de-restored to the condition in which it was originally found, the re-restored at the Getty Museum in 2006. This is a white marble statue with the clothing and hairstyle of a young Roman woman from an aristocratic background. The snake wrapped around her upper body is normal in Hygieia statues and symbolizes medicine and healing, while her expression is serene, gentle, graceful and virginal, which is how she was usually portrayed in ancient sculpture.
2) Medium: What is the substance the artist uses to make the work of art? Where does it come from? What properties does it have that make it a good medium for art? Why does an artist use this medium? What advantages and disadvantages does it have?
In Marble Information by Joey Lewitin, marble is described as one of the most elegant and sophisticated stones that is almost always smoothed and polished. It was commonly used in construction and sculpture in ancient Greek and Roman times, and is still used for pillars, floors and countertops today. Mable is a type of limestone that has been formed under high temperatures and pressures into calcite and dolomite, and therefore polishes very well. Because of numerous impurities such as iron and carbon, it can come in many different colors, which makes each piece unique. According to the Wikipedia article on Marble Sculpture, the advantages of working in marble include its soft, translucent quality and the fact that it is soft and easy to work with and polish when it is first quarried. Among the disadvantages are its tendency to stain when touched, and to deteriorate in outdoor environments, especially the smog and acid rain in modern cities. Granite is stronger and more durable the marble but also harder to work with, and it is also weaker than iron or bronze.
3) The Artist's Process: Tell me what the artist does to turn medium into the artwork. What tools does he use? What techniques does he use? What are the steps?
According to Wikipedia's Stone Sculpture article, the standard technique from ancient Greek and Roman times was the hammer and chisel. Stoneshaper.com has a "How to" page which states that the sculptor would first make a basic drawing or design of the artwork to be carved and then find a piece of marble that is similar in shape to minimize the actual carving. Then most of the stone was removed with a chisel, at least for most of history before power tools existed, followed by the use of a point chisel, causing the sculpture to gradually take shape. A claw chisel then refines the shape and removes the lines from the point chisel. Increasingly finer work is done by toothed chisels, claws and flat chisels to remove the lines left by previous tools, but this must be done carefully so as not to remove additional stone. Rasps and rifflers remove even the fine chisel marks, and work only in a forward direction, using a seesaw motion. Files then remove all the rasp and riffler marks, although any white marks have to be removed by deeper chiseling and rafting, which is followed by sanding with increasingly finer grades of paper. Some sculptors will only use wet sandpaper for the finest smoothing. Finally the sculpture is polished and waxed, and sometimes warmed in an oven. Here again, before the invention of power tools, all of this had to be done by hand.
4) The Subject: What is featured on the object, or what does the object represent? Does the artwork represent a particular myth or story If so, tell me a version of the myth and how this artwork tells the story. If there is an original source for the myth or story, you must research it an include quotes from related literature.
Dr Alena Trckova-Flamee's article in the Encyclopedia Mythica describes Hygieia as one of the daughters of Asklepios (Asclepius) and granddaughter of Apollo, who was also called Health (Salus) by the Romans, and she played an important role in religious cults in Greece and later Rome dating back to the 7th and 6th Centuries BC. Her name still exists in "present times in words such as hygiene" and "her sacred snake together with the rod of Asklepios is the symbol for medicine." During epidemics, which were commonplace in ancient times, offerings of women's hair were often made to the goddess. Many famous Greek and Roman sculptors produced statues of Hygieia, including Skopas, Timotheos and Ariphron the Sikyonian. Her usual form is that of a young virgin "feeding a huge sacred snake which is wrapped around her body," sometimes accompanied by her brother Telesforos, who took the form of a dwarf and symbolized recovery from illness. Her sisters included Panakeia (All-Cure) and Iaso (Remedy), while her opposite were the Nosoi (Spirits of Disease). In the Roman world, she was also associated with the cult of the moon goddess. According to Hygeia, the Virgoan Principle? In the Chorotic Journal, she was mentioned in ancient form of the Hippocratic Oath along with her father, grandfather and sisters. She was also the guardian and protector of mental health, and given the names mens sana, huliea phrenon and Athena Hygieia.
5) The Culture of the Roman Empire: Tell me about the people who created this work of art. In which culture was the artist living? What were the people like? Where did they live and how did they live? Who were the rulers during the century when the artwork was made? What building was done during that time?
According to the PBS website The Roman Empire in the First Century, Rome was a highly stratified, caste-based society, governed by emperors and the aristocracy -- the Senate and the equestrians. Assassinations, coups, rebellions and civil wars were commonplace in both the republic and the empire, although the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD were relatively more stable and orderly the next two hundred years. Of course, the great majority of the population in the Empire consisted of peasants, serfs, slaves and laborers, although gradually Roman citizenship was extended to all Italians and then all freeborn persons in the Empire. Even freed slaves could sometimes achieve this status, but all such advancement always depended on patronage. All aristocrats and generals had clients, both freeborn and slave, including those troops who fought in their armies. Clothing, food, housing and daily activities all depended on the person's level with the caste system and status hierarchy. For example, only emperors wore the purple toga, while Senators wore purple stripes on the edges of their white togas. The Roman Empire was also a melting pot of many different cultures and religions, held together by the road network and the army although by the 4th Century Christianity had become the official state religion of the empire. By the 2nd Century, many of the Good Emperors like Trajan and Hadrian had come from Spain, while later rulers like Constantine came from the Balkans and worked their way up to the throne through the ranks of the army. For most people, however, life was nasty, brutal and short, with the majority of children dying before adulthood and perhaps only 5% living to age 60.
6) Theme: What ideas are expressed by the object? Is it used for worship, for inspiration or did it have a practical purpose? What might an ancient person have thought, seeing this artwork? What does it make you think about today? What do we have in our own culture that is similar to this piece from long ago?
In the ancient world, statues of Hygieia were always associated with health and healing, particularly during times of epidemics. Of course, the Romans placed great store in public health and hygiene with public baths, running water and aqueducts in every major city, which would not appear in the West again until the 19th Century. They did not have a scientific understanding of disease, though, and physicians believed that medicine and healing required the assistance of the gods. For this reason, goddesses like Hygieia would be worshipped and venerated by local religious cults, and presented with offerings regularly by the public. Individuals would also seek the intercession of gods and goddesses for their own health problems. This was common until the time when Christianity became…