Contrapposto

In the modeling and posing of human figures we can use examples from sculpture. Early sculptures of human figures, while anatomically correct, appeared stiff and unnatural. The classical Greeks progressed to where they were able to model the human form in a nonsymmetrical, relaxed stance that appeared much more realistic. This is described by the Italian word Contrapposto (counterpoise). This was lost during the dark ages and was rediscovered by Donatello during the Italian Renaissance. All images below are from [Mark Harden http://www.artchive.com].

 

Here is an example of Egyptian sculpture from about 1920-1880 B.C. [HARD99]. Notice the unnatural stiffness of the figure.

Here is an example of Greek sculpture from about 440 B.C. Notice the nonsymmetrical, relaxed stance, that appears much more natural.

Here is Donatello’s David from 1444-46. As with the Greek statue above, it is relaxed, nonsymmetrical, and realistic.


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Last changed on March 13, 1999 by G. Scott Owen, owen@siggraph.org