Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Childbirth scene, ca. 310–30 b.c.; Hellenistic
    Cypriot; Said to be from the temple at Golgoi
    Limestone; H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm), L. 9 7/8 in. (25.1 cm)
    The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2698)

    This small limestone sculpture depicts a woman in childbirth. A standing attendant, whose head is missing, supports the mother from behind. At the foot of the couch, a seated attendant holds the newborn child. In classical antiquity, childbirth was generally the concern of midwives, as male doctors were called in only for difficult cases. Several of Hippocrates' treatises discuss childbirth, beginning with the onset of labor as it relates to the movement of the fetus. The most detailed account of labor and delivery is in the first-century A.D. handbook entitled Gynaecology, which was written by the Ephesian physician Soranus (98–138) for midwives. Soranus envisioned delivery on a birthing chair; he describes the dilation of the cervix and the breathing technique to be used in the delivery. He also emphasizes that the midwife and assistants, as depicted in this limestone sculpture from Golgoi, must reassure the mother.

    This work of art also appears on Connections: Anonymous

    Related

    Index Terms

    Art Movement/Style

    Material and Technique

    Subject Matter/Theme


    On view: Gallery 171
    Move Separator Print
    Close
  • Childbirth scene, ca. 310–30 B.C.; Hellenistic
    Cypriot; Said to be from the temple at Golgoi
    Limestone; H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm), L. 9 7/8 in. (25.1 cm)
    The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2698)

    Move
    Close