Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or moulded or cast.

Sculpture in stone survives far better than works of art in perishable materials, and often represents the majority of the surviving works (other than pottery) from ancient cultures, though conversely traditions of sculpture in wood may have vanished almost entirely. However, most ancient sculpture was brightly painted, and this has been lost.

Sculpture has been central in religious devotion in many cultures, and until recent centuries large sculptures, too expensive for private individuals to create, were usually an expression of religion or politics. Those cultures whose sculptures have survived in quantities include the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, India and China, as well as many in Central and South America and Africa.

The Western tradition of sculpture began in ancient Greece, and Greece is widely seen as producing great masterpieces in the classical period. During the Middle Ages, Gothic sculpture represented the agonies and passions of the Christian faith. The revival of classical models in the Renaissance produced famous sculptures such as Michelangelo's David. Modernist sculpture moved away from traditional processes and the emphasis on the depiction of the human body, with the making of constructed sculpture, and the presentation of found objects as finished art works.

Sculpture Media

98,469 media by topicpage 1 of 985
Sculpture "Eagle; Justice Above All Else" at Jacob K. Javitz Federal Building, New York, New York

Sculpture "Eagle; Justice Above All Else" at Jacob K. Javitz Federal B...

Artist: Theodore Roszak, 1970. Bronze. Photographed as part of an assignment for the General Services Administration. Title information, date, and subject note provided by the photographer. Credit line: Photogr... More

Young women at the municipal casino: Lido Beach, Florida

Young women at the municipal casino: Lido Beach, Florida

Local call number: JJS0370..Title: Young women at the municipal casino: Lido Beach, Florida..Date: ca. 1945..Physical descrip: 1 transparency - col. - 5 x 4 in...Series Title: Joseph Janney Steinmetz Collection... More

[Statue of Liberty at Dusk]

[Statue of Liberty at Dusk]

Title: [Statue of Liberty at Dusk]..Creator: Robert Yarnall Richie, 1908-1984..Date: November 9, 1965..Place: New York Harbor, Manhattan, New York..Part Of: Robert Yarnall Richie photograph collection..Descript... More

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, Courtyard CC 41, Tomb R 2, Burials F x (1-4), MMA excavations, 1915–16 New Kingdom

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb
Terracotta figurine of a seated goddess
Shabti of the God's Wife Maatkare

Shabti of the God's Wife Maatkare

From Egypt; Probably from Upper Egypt: Thebes, Southern Asasif, Royal Cache Valley, Royal Cache, Tomb of Inhapy (TT 320) Third Intermediate Period

Monkey kneeling and resting its head in a hand
Gold pendant ring with carnelian scaraboid, Cyprus
Limestone statuette of Pan
Statuette of a priest ?, bronze

Statuette of a priest ?, bronze

Accession Number: 96.9.278

Statuette of a woman votary
Part of parapet, limestone, Iran
Relief block from a temple of Amenemhat I
Face from a statuette, Predynastic Egypt, 6000 - 3150 BC
Leg of a chair or table (?)

Leg of a chair or table (?)

Iran, Hasanlu Iron Age II

Mask, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Man squatting with head resting on his hands on his knees
Sculptor's Trial Piece showing an old man and on the reverse the lower part of a figure
Furniture plaque carved in relief with a “woman at the window”
Statuette of the Goddess Taweret
Prisoner with head and hands held in a restraint
Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Scarab Inscribed for the King's Principal Wife Ahmose
Archaic Terracotta lekythos (oil flask), Greece
Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb
Reliquary Box With a Lid
Scarab from mummy of Satsobek

Scarab from mummy of Satsobek

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Tomb 954, Burial 954D, MMA excavations, 1921–22 Middle Kingdom–Second Intermediate Period

God Horus Protecting King Nectanebo II
Kohl jar decorated wtih Horus falcon and grotesque figure
Part of an elaborate roof or canopy - see 26.3.354-2
Gold, beryl, and garnet earring with head of a doplhin
Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb MMA 60, Chamber B, Burial of Henettawy C (4), MMA excavations, 1923–24 Third Intermediate Period

Statuette of woman, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Statuette of woman, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Mastaba of Senwosretankh, Pit 23, MMA excavations, 1932–33 Middle Kingdom

Magical Figure, Egypt, Late Middle Kingdom / Second Intermediate Period, 1650-1550 BCE
Onuris, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC
Statuette of a worn or aged woman, probably a goddess
Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, Tomb CC 37, Burial 59 D, Carnarvon excavations, 1911 New Kingdom

Scarab Inscribed with the Name Maatkare Over a Papyrus Thicket
Scarab, Egypt, The Middle Kingdom - Early New Kingdom 2040 - 1550 BCE
Scarab Inscribed with a Hieroglyphic Motif

Scarab Inscribed with a Hieroglyphic Motif

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut, Foundation Deposit 7 (G), MMA excavations, 1926–27 New Kingdom

Sculptor's Trial Piece showing a Nubian Head
Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Top for standard, bronze, Iran

Top for standard, bronze, Iran

Iran, probably from Luristan Iron Age

Statuette of Osiris, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)
Etruscan Banded agate scarab
Dancers with Instruments, Amarna Period, Ancient Egypt
Figure of an Asiatic captive
Relief from the tomb of Queen Neferu: two female attendants
Relief plaque with two swallows, opposite side two quail chicks
Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, Hathor Shrine, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Shabti, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Shabti, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, cemetery south of pyramid below House A2:2, Pit 495, MMA excavations, 1913–14 Middle Kingdom

Magical Figure, Egypt, Late Middle Kingdom / Second Intermediate Period, 1650-1550 BCE
Scarab Inscribed with the Name Amtenhotep
Ritual Figure, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period (332–30 BCE)
Scarabs Inscribed for the God's Wife Neferure
Scarab Inscribed Perfect God, Lord of the Two Lands Maatkare (Hatshepsut)

Scarab Inscribed Perfect God, Lord of the Two Lands Maatkare (Hatsheps...

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut, Foundation Deposit 7 (G), MMA excavations, 1926–27 New Kingdom

Scarab of Ramesses II, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, Hathor Shrine, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Scarab of king's son Sobekhotep
Name Panel from the Mortuary Complex of Senwosret I

Name Panel from the Mortuary Complex of Senwosret I

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Pyramid Temple of Senwosret I, MMA excavations, 1931–32 Middle Kingdom

Magical Figure, Egypt, Late Middle Kingdom / Second Intermediate Period, 1650-1550 BCE
Openwork furniture plaque with two sphinxes
Plaque Depicting a Quail Chick
Figure of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris
Chair back carved in relief
Etruscan Carnelian scarab, Italy
Chinese Figure of a Rhinoceros

Chinese Figure of a Rhinoceros

Accession Number: 68.149.5 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220) or Six Dynasties (220–589)

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

See 25.3.19. From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb MMA 60, Chamber B, Burial of Henettawy C (4), MMA excavations, 1923–24 Third Intermediate Period

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb MMA 60, Chamber B, Burial of Henettawy C (4), MMA excavations, 1923–24 Third Intermediate Period

Terracotta relief from a lamp with Leda and the swan
Temple Model, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Fragment of a marble relief from a funerary monument
Jerboa figurine, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC
Scarab of Ramesses II, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Scarab Inscribed with a Hieroglyphic Motif

Scarab Inscribed with a Hieroglyphic Motif

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut, Foundation Deposit 9 (I), MMA excavations, 1926–27 New Kingdom

Scarab Inscribed For the Scribe Djehutymose

Scarab Inscribed For the Scribe Djehutymose

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, Tomb CC 62, West Chapel A, debris, Carnarvon excavations, 1913 New Kingdom

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, Hathor Shrine, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Magical Figure, Egypt, Late Middle Kingdom / Second Intermediate Period, 1650-1550 BCE
Greek Terracotta statuette base

Greek Terracotta statuette base

For statuette. Hellenistic

Bronze horse, Greece statue, bronze
Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Nespekashuty (TT 312, MMA 509), 1st chamber W. wall; bottom register, MMA excavations, 1922–23 Late Period, Saite

Mesoamerican Stone Temple Model

Mesoamerican Stone Temple Model

Mexico, Mesoamerica, Guerrero, Balsas River region

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, Hathor Shrine, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Scarab with Hieroglyphs and Recumbent Donkey
Scarab of Ramesses II, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Scarabs Inscribed for the God's Wife Neferure

Scarabs Inscribed for the God's Wife Neferure

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut, Foundation Deposit 7 (G), MMA excavations, 1926–27 New Kingdom

Cat figurine, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)
Statuette of a Lictor, bronze
Ancestor Pair, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Anubis, Ancient Egypt, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bronze handle with dogs flanking a reclining youth
Reliquary, 3rd century, Pakistan
Fragment of upper arm, body, negative space from a double statue holding stela (?)

Fragment of upper arm, body, negative space from a double statue holdi...

From Egypt, Middle Egypt, Amarna (Akhetaten), Great Temple of the Aten, Pit outside southern wall, Petrie/Carter excavations, 1891–92 New Kingdom, Amarna Period

Handle from a cosmetic spoon
Ibis, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)
Figure, bronze and iron age period
Archaic Terracotta statuette of a goat
Shabti of Tjebure, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Nespekashuty (TT 312, MMA 509), 1st chamber E. wall; 4th register, MMA excavations, 1922–23 Late Period, Saite

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