The Doryphoros (Greek Δορυφόρος, "Spear-Bearer"; Latinized as Doryphorus) is one of the best known Greek sculptures of the classical era in Western Art and an early example of Greek classical contrapposto. The lost bronze original would have been made at approximately 450-400 BCE.
The Greek sculptor Polykleitos designed a work, perhaps this one, as an example of the "canon" or "rule", showing the perfectly harmonious and balanced proportions of the human body in the sculpted form. A solid-built athlete with muscular features carries a spear balanced on his left shoulder. In the surviving Roman marble copies, a marble tree stump is added to support the weight of the marble. A characteristic of Polykleitos' Doryphoros is the classical contrapposto in the pelvis; the figure's stance is such that one leg seems to be in movement while he is standing on the other.
Some time in the 2nd century AD, Galen wrote about the Doryphoros as the perfect visual expression of the Greeks' search for harmony and beauty, which is rendered in the perfectly proportioned sculpted male nude:
The sculpture was known through the Roman marble replica found in Herculaneum and conserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum, but, according to Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny, early connoisseurs such as Johann Joachim Winckelmann passed it by in the royal Bourbon collection at Naples without notable comment. The marble sculpture and a bronze head that had been retrieved at Herculaneum were published in Le Antichità di Ercolano, (1767) but were not identified as representing Polykleitos' Doryphorus until 1863.
For modern eyes, a fragmentary Doryphoros torso in basalt in the Medici collection at the Uffizi "conveys the effect of bronze, and is executed with unusual care", as Kenneth Clark noted, illustrating it in The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form: "It preserves some of the urgency and concentration of the original" lost in the full-size "blockish" marble copies. Only pieces of the lower legs and the spear from the original bronze sculpture have been discovered in what is modern-day Pyrgos, by Mitchell Dixon on an expedition in the 1960s
Polykleitos (or Polyklitos, Polycleitus, Polyclitus; Greek Πολύκλειτος, "much-renowned"); called the Elder, was a Greek sculptor in bronze of the fifth and the early 4th century BCE. Next to Phidias, Myron and Praxiteles, he is considered the most important sculptor of Classical antiquity: the 4th-century catalogue attributed to Xenocrates (the "Xenocratic catalogue"), which was Pliny's guide in matters of art, ranked him between Phidias and Myron.
He was of Argos, where he must have received his early training, and a contemporary of Phidias (possibly also taught by Ageladas). His figure of an Amazon for Ephesus was regarded as superior to those by Phidias and Kresilas at the same time; and his colossal gold and ivory statue of Hera which stood in her temple – the Heraion of Argos – was compared with the Zeus by Phidias. He also sculpted a famous bronze male nude known as the Doryphoros ("Spear-carrier"), which survives in the form of numerous Roman marble copies. Further sculptures attributed to Polykleitos are the Discophoros ("Discus-bearer"), Diadumenos ("Youth tying a headband") and a Hermes at one time placed, according to Pliny, in Lysimachia (Thrace). Polykleitos' Astragalizontes ("Boys Playing at Knuckle-bones") was claimed by the Emperor Titus and set in a place of honour in his atrium.