POLYGNOTUS, famous Greek painter, c. 470-44o B.c., son of Aglaophon, was a native of Thasos, but was adopted by the Athenians, and admitted to their citizenship. He painted for them, in the time of Cimon, a picture of the taking of Ilium on the walls of the Stoa Poecile, and another of the marriage of the daughters of Leucippus in the Anaceum. In the hall at the entrance to the Acropolis other works of his were preserved; and he collaborated with Mikon in paintings of Greeks and Amazons in the Theseum. The most important, however, of his products were his frescoes in the Lesche erected at Delphi by the people of Cnidus. The subjects of these were the visit to Hades by Odysseus, and the taking of Ilium. Fortunately the traveller Pausanias has left us a careful description of these paintings, figure by figure (Paus. x. 25-31) and we may form some idea of their style from con temporary vase decorations. The foundations of the building have been recovered in the course of the French excavations at Delphi. From this evidence some modern archaeologists have tried
to reconstruct the composition of the paintings. The figures were detached and seldom overlapping, ranged in two or three rows one above another ; and the farther were not smaller nor dimmer than the nearer. We learn also that Polygnotus employed but few colours. His excellence lay in the beauty of his drawing of individual figures ; but especially in the "ethical" and ideal char acter of his art. His work must have had the same grandeur as the contemporary sculptures of Olympia, combined apparently with a new delicacy; for he is praised for his transparent garments, his head-dresses of variegated colours, and his speaking expressions. He was the great representative of Greek painting of the fifth century B.C., as Pheidias was of sculpture.