Marble female figure

Attributed to the Bastis Master

Period: Early Cycladic II

Date: 2600–2400 B.C.

Culture: Cycladic

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: H. 24 3/4 in. (62.79 cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1968

Accession Number: 68.148


This early Cycladic sculpture is of the Spedos variety, the most common and most widely distributed form in Cycladic marble art. Typically, the head tilts back, the knees are flexed, the toes slant downward, and the arms are folded beneath the chest. The proportions of the figure seem to have been carefully measured with a compass. The arc of the head corresponds with the curve of the waist, the curve of the shoulders completes the curves at the knees, and the curve of the toes is followed through the curve implied by the hips. Traces of red pigment on the front and back of the figure describe a variety of almond shapes. Such bold painted designs have been observed on other Early Cycladic works of art, suggesting the surface of the sculpture is at least as important as the sculpted form.
The recognition of distinct artistic personalities in Cycladic sculpture is based upon recurring systems of proportion and details of execution. This standing female figure is the name piece of the Bastis Master, known for a stylization of the human body that is elegant almost to the point of mannerism. The curved surfaces of the head, the restrained swelling of the breasts and abdomen, and the downward pointing toes with slightly convex soles represent exceptional technical command.