The Artist

28 Mar, 2002 700 Arts

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of the artist. The sculptors who created the statues of ancient Greece were treated with disdain by their contemporaries, who saw the menial task of chipping images out of stone as a low form drudgery. Writing in the 1st century AD the Roman writer Seneca looked at their work and said: “One venerates the divine images, one may pray and sacrifice to them, yet one despises the sculptors who made them”. Since antiquity artists have attempted to throw off the slur of manual labour and present themselves as gifted intellectuals on a higher level than mere artisans or craftsmen. By the Romantic period Wordsworth claimed that poets were ‘endowed with a greater knowledge of human nature and a more comprehensive soul than are supposed to be common in mankind’. How did the artist become a special kind of human being? What role did aristocratic patronage of the arts play in changing the status of the artist? And how have we constructed the image of the artist?

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  • Emma Barker No other episodes
    Lecturer in Art History, The Open University
  • Thomas Healy 3 episodes
    Professor of Renaissance Studies at Birkbeck University of London
  • Tim Blanning 9 episodes
    Professor of Modern European History at the University of Cambridge

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Auto-category: 700.1 (History of Art)