Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Seated Figure

Date:
12th–9th century B.C.
Geography:
Mexico, Mesoamerica
Culture:
Olmec
Medium:
Ceramic
Dimensions:
H. 5 7/8 x W. 3 1/4 x D. 3 3/8 in. (14.9 x 8.3 x 8.6 cm)
Classification:
Ceramics-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Diker, 2008
Accession Number:
2008.637
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 358
The figure, modeled of solid clay, is shown sitting in a comfortably relaxed posture, left leg tucked under right. Most of the surface of the figure is covered with a cream-color slip; only the top of the head and the waist area are left unpolished probably indicating cap and garment worn by the figure.The right arm and hand are extended, resting on the right foot. The left arm rests on the ground next to the left thigh. Four grooves on the feet and hands indicate toes and fingers. The narrow, elongated, artificially deformed head has long ear flanges and tilts slightly to the left; the facial features with almond-shaped, puffy eyes, thick upper lip and half-open mouth with down-turned corners are typical of Olmec supernaturals. The eyebrows are drawn in a faint black; traces of red and white pigment remain in the eyes.
This figure is a fine example of type of small three-dimensional solid clay figures found at such sites as Las Bocas, Tlatilco, and Tlapacoya in the central highlands of Mexico. These figures exhibit a remarkable uniformity in style, but no two are the same. With their fleshy torsos and lively facial expressions shown in active, often animated poses, the works are the most naturalistic renditions of the human form in Precolumbian Mexico.
Edward Merrin Gallery, New York, before 1972; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Diker, New York, 1972– 2008. Publication information: Berjonneau, Gerald, Emile Deletaille and Jean-Louis Sonnery, Rediscovered Masterpieces of Mesoamerica: Mexico-Guatemala-Honduras, Editions Arts, 135, Boulogne, France, 1985, page 56, fig. 55.

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