In addition to freestanding round sculptures in art, other voluminous works stand out - reliefs. Reliefs are compositions where a flat background is combined with volumetric elements. The most popular relief types are bas-relief and high relief. What are their differences?
What it is?
Let's start with the definition of the word "relief" . It was formed from the Latin "relevo", which translates as "lift."
The first works of art using the technique of relief created back in the Paleolithic era, more than 10 thousand years ago. This direction of art was most developed in ancient times.
There are 5 types of relief, but the most common are high relief and bas-relief.
Bas-relief - a form of art in which the volume part is issued by half or less. An analogy with sand can be given. A round sculpture was immersed in it half or more. That is exactly what the bas-relief will look like - as if most of the volume was left behind the background.
Distinctive features of bas-reliefs:
- no freestanding figures;
- figures are recessed into the background;
- there are no elements that would protrude strongly above the plane - if there is a spear or a whole muzzle of a horse that protrudes perpendicular to the background, this is already a high relief.
In bas-reliefs, the perspective is simplified, and the anatomy is not always respected. In order not to tear the figures away from the plane, the authors can neglect these principles. Very often people, weapons, horses and other participants in the bas-reliefs seem a bit flattened.
The word “bas-relief” itself is translated as “low relief”. The pronunciation is taken from the French bas-relief ”, but the roots of the word go back to the Italian bassorilievo.
These types of reliefs can be created from clay, different types of stone, wood and other materials . To give volume use techniques of modeling, carving, trimming. Techniques and materials can be combined: for example, in ancient art there are samples of stone and bronze, gold and gypsum.
Bas-reliefs loved to adorn the pediments of temples in the era of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Colorful sculptural compositions were the hallmark of the building. But the walls are not the only background for the bas-reliefs. They can also rise above the columns, parts of a round sculpture.
If you move away from architecture, bas-relief is used even when minting collectible and decorative coins.
From French haut-relief the word is translated as "high relief" . Such a sculptural composition is issued over the plane by more than 50%. Perspective is observed in the image, anatomy is sometimes neglected, but such a technique is less common.
The figures on the high relief can even stand separately from the plane (provided that the other elements are partially "buried"). The hand of a person, the face of a horse or a tree can strongly protrude. High reliefs are also used since ancient times, they were found in Persia, Assyria, and Ancient India. However, the technique appeared later than the bas-reliefs, because it requires more skill from the sculptor.
Distinctive features of high relief:
- appears above the background by 50% or more;
- freestanding figures may occur;
- strongly prominent elements that are almost not in contact with the plane are not forbidden;
- more attention is paid to perspective and anatomy.
High relief is used to create complex compositions with many characters. The technique is also suitable for displaying landscapes, if they need to convey perspective.
High reliefs are found on colonnades, triumphal arches, ancient and modern temples, altars. Round statues that are not physically connected to the wall, but are tightly attached to it until the creation of a single composition, are also high reliefs.
There are differences and similarities between high reliefs and bas-reliefs. Unity lies in the following features:
- varieties of sculptural technique "relief";
- inextricably linked to a flat background;
- originate from voluminous cave paintings.
But the difference between works of art is much greater. Each difference should be considered in detail.
- The ratio of volume and plane. The high relief volume is more than 50%, the bas-relief - less. The bas-relief looks like a round sculpture is buried in the background. The high relief has a volume, on the contrary, as if seeking to separate.
- Perspective . When creating a high relief, its principles are strictly observed. In bas-reliefs, the prospect is neglected to save time and resources for the manufacture of sculptures.
- Freestanding items . In bas-reliefs, details do not protrude much above the base. They are as if flattened, pressed into it. And in high reliefs, there are often elements that are hardly related to the background. They can be issued even to the full extent, but connect to the plane with a thin isthmus, and then still belong to the relief sculpture.
- The difficulty of creating. High reliefs are more difficult for masters, so they appeared later. The technique of bas-reliefs was also used by cavemen in the Paleolithic era.
Materials and tools for creating these reliefs do not differ . Both subtypes can be created from clay, gypsum, marble, wood.
Interestingly, the techniques can be combined. In a modern interior, a technique is used in which part of the sculpture barely protrudes above the wall, and part retains more than 50% of the volume.
Relief sculptures were created in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Rome. In the Middle Ages, the popularity of reliefs declined, but in the Renaissance, semi-voluminous sculptures returned to fashion. Therefore, examples of bas-reliefs and high reliefs can be found in any country.
The most famous example of high relief is the Pergamon Altar. Its base is decorated with voluminous sculptures of gods and titans. The plot is classic - a battle between opposing sides. The altar was created between 228 BC. e. and 170 BC e. and is dedicated to the victory of the Pergamon king of Atall I over the barbarians. On the eastern side of the altar are the Olympic gods, on the other sides - the gods of the elements.
The perimeter of the architectural monument is so long that it is divided into several independent reliefs. So, they distinguish “The Battle of Zeus with Porfirion” and “The Battle of Athena with Alkionei”. Currently, the altar is under restoration in Berlin, will open to the public in 2023.
The most famous example of a bas-relief in Russia is the Alexander Column . The base of the monument erected in 1834 is decorated with allegorical female figures, weapons and armor. The bas-relief is cast from bronze, you can see in it:
- Old Russian chain mail;
- shields, samples for which were taken in the Armory;
- helmet of Alexander Nevsky;
- the armor of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.
Bas-reliefs and high reliefs continue to be used by modern architects . They decorate the facades of houses, rooms, sculptures. Various relief variations can be seen at contemporary art exhibitions.
What is the difference between a high relief and a bas-relief in the next video.