|Orestes and Electra, c. 50 BCE.,|
|Castor and Pollux, |
first century BCE., Pasiteles
However, his five-volume opus, The Noble Works of Art Throughout the World, goes down in history as the first ever attempt to catalog, classify, and critique art. Despite its grandiose title, the work dealt primarily with Roman sculpture and more specifically sculpture in Rome. But that in no way minimizes its importance. Given the time and place, Rome was one gigantic museum of Greek and Roman sculpted images. Yet a museum is virtually worthless without some systematic guide to its contents; and that's what Pasiteles provided. Artists then used his writings as a study guide in developing a sense of style and aesthetics. Artists now use his work as a priceless guide through the maze of styles and aesthetics of the time. Pasiteles even went so far as to theorize on a spectral range of styles spanning what he termed "Attic purity" to "Asiatic license" --what we today might term realism to abstraction, or perhaps conservative to liberal. He went on to found a school of sculpture that combined the best of Greek grace and beauty with the daring and technical virtuosity of Roman stonecutting. He left a legacy of broken bits and pieces of carved stone, coupled with a written text making sense of it all that would inspire the likes of Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and El Grecco fifteen hundred years later.