The Hellenistic period in Greece begins with the creation of the Macedonian empire by Alexander the Great, and continues with the mixed fortunes of the successor kingdoms, until the intrusion of Rome: broadly late 4th to 1st century B.C. New palatial patronage has its effect on sculpture and although the sculptors were mobile, some regional preferences or skills can perhaps be discerned. Important centres seem to be Athens, the Macedonian cities, Pergamon, Rhodes, Delos, Syria, and Alexandria. More ambitious architecture attracted major sculptural decoration, and the cult of personality encouraged real portraiture. The idealized realism of the 5th/4th centuries could perhaps go no further, and progress is to be looked for in more robust, sometimes impressionistic versions of the classical forms, often verging on the baroque; but the pure classical was still valued, especially by Romans, and was catered for by the production of copies of classical masterpieces by Greek sculptors and by some original work in the classical, sometimes even archaic, manner.
Some achievements of Hellenistic sculptors are mentioned and illustrated in others sections here (Architectural, Grave Monuments, Votive, Portraiture). The following pictures are chosen to give an idea of the new sculptural styles and their range of uses.
The classical style was retained for statues of gods and goddesses though the latter are rendered more sensuously, if Aphrodite, more substantially wrapped up, if the senior goddesses, while the males reveal their date mainly through the treatment of their intense faces and often wild hair. This is particularly apparent in the treatment of the gods fighting giants on the Great Altar at Pergamon.
Votive and commemorative monuments may take the form of major groups of figures, not set like friezes in the classical manner but disposed more three-dimensionally. The most spectacular of these were copied in the Roman period, notably for the Emperor Tiberius' sculpture grotto at Sperlonga.
Athlete and hero figures
The remoter kingdoms
In the remoter Hellenistic kingdoms pure provincialism reigned, even for royal portraits, where we see only the trappings of Hellenistic statuary, as for the Commagenian kings at Nimrud-Dagh in south Turkey.