Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Head of a Woman, Probably a Sphinx, 1st quarter of the 5th century b.c.
    Greek
    Terracotta

    H. 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1947 (47.100.3)

    Because limestone and marble were readily available, terracotta (fired clay) was not often used for large-scale sculpture in Greece. The proportions and the break at the neck suggest that this exceptionally fine head belonged to a sphinx and was possibly part of the roof decoration of a small building. Sphinxes traditionally served as guardian figures, notably for funerary monuments. Of particular note here is the way the application of polychromy renders details such as the earrings and headband.

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    On view: Gallery 157
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    Head of a Woman, Probably a Sphinx, 1st quarter of the 5th century b.c.
    Greek
    Terracotta

    H. 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1947 (47.100.3)


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