What Is A Relief Sculpture? Origins Of Relief Sculpture
What Is A Relief Sculpture?
Relief sculpture is a type of art where figures project from a background surface, such as a wall, and are carved into it. These sculptures are traditionally classified based on how high the figures stand out from the background.
Known as relievo, relief sculptures combine two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements, dependent on a background surface but also having a degree of 3D realism.
They are more common than freestanding sculptures because they can depict a wider range of subjects, don’t have weight and balance issues, and are well-suited for architectural projects as both decorative and narrative elements.
Origins Of Relief Sculpture
Bas-relief, a form of sculpture that focuses on contour and the use of chiaroscuro to define form, is believed to have pre-dated sculpture in the round as it is easier to create.
It is made using various mediums and techniques, with stone carving and metal casting being two popular forms.
The earliest forms of bas-relief were probably made with clay and wood, but the first preserved examples were created by stone-cutters in pre-history. Egyptians and Assyrians used strong colors to enhance their reliefs, and the Greeks also used polychromy.
The human form is a common subject in classic Greek and Roman reliefs, often used in processional or ceremonial scenes.
Reliefs can also be used to depict a series of scenes or illustrations of the Bible as seen in the bronze doors of Italian baptisteries. In Gothic and Renaissance art, it was common to tint wood, terracotta, and stucco but not marble or stone.
Types Of Relief Sculpture
Relief is a form of sculpture in which the figures are raised above the background. There are three main types of relief: low relief, high relief, and sunken relief.
Low relief, also known as bas-relief, is where the sculpted projection is slight or shallow, and the background is compressed or flat. An example of low relief is the frieze around the cella of the Parthenon.
High relief, also known as alto-relievo, involves the undercutting of figures so that they are rendered at more than 50% in the round against the background. The metopes from the Parthenon is an example of high relief.
Sunken relief, also known as intaglio or hollow-relief, is where the image is carved into a flat surface, usually mostly linear in nature. This form is famously associated with ancient Egyptian art, where hieroglyphs were used to inscribe images on stone monuments and reliefs.
All cultures and periods where large sculptures were created used these techniques as one of their sculptural options. It is present in monumental sculpture and architecture from ancient times to the present.
Examples Of Notable Relief Sculptures
Ancient cave art in the Upper Paleolithic period of the Franco-Cantabrian area included not only paintings and engravings, but also a few bas-reliefs. The Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hittites used both bas-relief and sculpture in the round.
The Greeks used relief sculptures both as an ornament and as an integral part of their architecture. In western India, bas-relief sculpture was present in the second and first centuries B.C.E. Later in India, individually carved figures in high relief or in the round replaced the earlier narrative tradition of depicting rulers and gods.
In Europe, the Hellenistic period saw a more picturesque carving style. Etruscan relief was mainly used in artistic handicrafts.
In Rome, the Arch of Titus, the Column of Trajan, imperial sarcophagi in the Vatican, and reliefs in the Capitol Museum all reflect a pictorial style, showing the influence of the Greeks.
Techniques Used In Relief Sculpting
Relief sculpting is a technique used to create images in low relief or bas-relief. It involves carving shapes and figures into a flat surface that protrude from the background, giving it a three dimensional appearance.
This can be achieved through techniques such as incision, using chisels for blocky shapes and knives for fine details. Relief sculptures can also be made with materials such as metal and plastic which allows more intricate details to be created than when working with stone.
Relief sculpture is an ancient art form that dates back thousands of years and has been used throughout history as decoration in temples, palaces and other structures.
Use Of Relief Sculpture Today
Relief sculpture is still an incredibly popular medium today. Not only is it often used in artwork, but it can also have many practical uses.
Relief sculptures are great for architectural features such as wall panels and ceilings, they can also be used to create intricate patterns and designs that are very eye-catching.
Relief sculptures are even being used in public spaces to bring a unique element of artistry as well as providing environmental benefits due to improved air circulation.
The use of relief sculptures can really bring any space to life and show off the artist’s skill and craftsmanship.