“This Sculpture Depicts Art History”

By Timothy Jarvis

Mancevice discusses his love of Funerary Monument of a Greek Warrior.

Mark Mancevice is a docent for the Worcester Art Museum (WAM). As Mancevice explained, a docent’s job entails being a guide and to provide information, usually on a volunteer basis, in a museum or art gallery.

“Being a docent is something I should have done all along,” Mancevice said. “I only wish I knew about this position sooner, so I could have done this when I was younger.” There was an audible passion in his voice when explaining how his favorite parts of his job are giving tours and studying history. Mancevice seems to love what he does at the WAM.

“I was a history major in college, so I love this whole portion of the job (the tours),” Mancevice said.

With an electric energy in his voice, he then spoke about his favorite piece in the WAM, Funerary Monument of a Greek Warrior.

It’s only fitting that Mancevice choose this piece as his favorite, as it’s one of the more historically significant pieces among the WAM collection.

The piece is from Megara Greece (Attica) dating back to 420-400 B.C.E. The piece was made out of pentelic marble, Mancevice tells. Pentelic marble is found in the Penteli quarries north of Athens, and is a fine-grained calcitic marble; it’s white with a golden tinge to it. Pentelic marble was used for most of the major monuments of Classical Athens, especially from the 5th century B.C.E. and on. Also, it was the first white marble to be used in significant quantities in Rome in the 2nd century. In the Roman period, it was used mainly for architectural elements, statuary, and sarcophagi.

But in this case, it was used to make Funerary Monument of a Greek Warrior. This quite stoic sculpture was made by Phidias (480 – 430 B.C.E.) according to Mancevice. Phidias was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect and he created the Statue of Zeus at Olympia; one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Phidias established himself as an influential artist in Ancient Greece by forming friendships with the Greek statesmen and philosophers. Phidias also acquired quite the workshop with all his works housed in it. The discovery of Phidias’ workshop has enabled archaeologists to re-create the techniques used to make the statue and confirm its date.

As for the aesthetic of the sculpture itself, Mancevice said “this sculpture depicts art history, and has an influence on this time in Greece.” Mancevice then went on to explain where the inspiration for this piece came from, and what it’s of.

“This is a depiction of a solider from of the late Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.E.),” he said. “It serves as an example for what a model soldier looked like at the time.”

In short, the Peloponnesian War was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases, and Mancevice is referring to the third phase of the war.

“The sculptor (Phidias) actually recreated this as if he (the soldier in the piece) was a living person,” Mancevice said. He then went on to speak about this piece in relation to Greek culture. “This piece was contemporary to Socrates,” which is significant as “Socrates himself fought in many battles, history tells us,” he said. “And, the people of Greece saw this sculpture similar to how they saw a figure like Socrates.”

Mancevice continued, saying the narrative of this sculpture “has an even more interesting backstory.”

“Funerary Monument of a Greek Warrior was brought to England in about 1838 by a Scotsman,” he said with enthusiasm.

“This Scotsman was a British soldier during the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815 C.E.),” Mancevice informed. “When the wars were over he worked like a mercenary, and in 1891 he joined the Greek Revolution, serving two tours.”

The Scotsman taught the men in the Greek Revolution how to fight according to the ideals of “Civilised Warfare,” such as not killing prisoners of war. “Like many men of his time, he was an amature archologist, and he managed to excavate this sculpture,” Mancevice said.

And to conclude, Mancevice answered how this piece contributes to the Worcester community. “It wasn’t until the 1920’s the museum (WAM) began collecting historical, or art history pieces; this was among the first,” he said. “This is a great piece for art history in Worcester.”

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