The construction of a (non-precise) copy of the Western Parthenon Frieze was assigned to our Company, The Art of Marble and Stone, by the Greek community of Melbourne, back in 2018, in order to adorn the facade of the Greek Center (168 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne Victoria). The project is co-funded by the Victoria State Government.
The frieze in ancient temples was a continuous zone of panels, usually adorned with carved reliefs, which in Ionic-style buildings replaced the metopes above the columns of the outer colonnade.
Τhe Ionic frieze incorporated into the Doric Parthenon wrapped around the outer, upper walls of the cella – the temple proper. It consisted of 115 blocks that were structural elements of the building. Shown in the reliefs carved on their exterior faces were 378 human and divine figures, as well as more than 220 animals, mostly horses.
The frieze was sculpted between 443 and 438 BC. Its design was the work of the sculptor Pheidias, but its carving was executed by some of his most famous pupils. The frieze’s subject is believed to be the procession of the Greater Panathenaia, the most important festival held in honour of the city’s divine patroness Athena.
The sculpted procession began at the southwest corner of the temple, where it separated into two groups – one moving up the building’s west end and across the long north side; the other, along the south side. They met again in the centre of the east end, the temple’s most formal, main façade, where the new peplos, the garment to be presented to Athena Polias’ statue, was depicted.
At present, the majority of the frieze is at the British Museum in London (forming the major part of the Elgin Marbles); the largest proportion of the rest is at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, and the remainder of fragments shared between six other institutions. Casts of the frieze may be found in the Beazley Archive at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, at the Spurlock Museum in Urbana, in the Skulpturhalle at Basel, and elsewhere.
The West Frieze is made up of sixteen blocks averaging 1.40 m. in length, with the exception of blocks I and XVI, which are only 0.60 m. long because they are actually the narrow sides of the west blocks of the north and south sides, N XLVII and S I respectively. The frieze depicts the preparation for the Panathenaic procession of the horsemen in the Kerameikos. Each frieze block includes one to three (at most) figures and as many as two horses. At intervals are individuals standing