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Marble female figure


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 151

Technical analysis: Multiband imaging, optical microscopy, Raman spectroscopy

The figure, carved from very fine-grained (maximum grain size < 0.5 mm), homeoblastic marble with banded structure, is intact except for a slight loss at the bottom of the right foot. Brown accretions covering the back are minimal on the front, perhaps because the surface was aggressively cleaned. Red pigment identified as hematite appears on the proper right side of the face and head. As the pigment extends over the accretions and pitting of the surface, it is likely of modern origin. Scattered glossy areas appear to be the result of a modern consolidant. There is a raised vertical darkened patch in the area of the mouth, and spots of what appear to be iron corrosion on the back of the head and proper right leg.

The figure is of the Louros type, which represents an intermediate stage between the broader categories of abstract and naturalistic features. A schematic head, offset from the neck by a sculpturally defined chin, and flat torso are combined with carefully modeled legs. Triangular projections at the level of the shoulders represent arms. Small round breasts are carved in relief on the chest. The pubic area is defined by an incised horizontal line across the lower abdomen and by the rounded contours of the upper thighs. The fully articulated legs are divided in the front and back by deep vertical grooves, but are carved separately only from the mid-calves down. The buttocks and back of the legs are flatly modeled.

Although the proportions are characteristic of the Louros variety, the figure is a larger than average example of the type. The best parallels for the basic form, possibly carved by the same sculptor, come from a grave at Louros on Naxos. The presence of breasts in relief is also unusual, but does occur on the largest known Louros figure, now in Dresden.(1)

Alexis Belis, Dorothy Abramitis, and Federico Carò

(1) Pat Getz-Gentle, Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture (The University of Wisconsin Press, 2001), p. 15, on figures found together in Grave 26 at Louros attributed to the Stephanos Sculptor. The figure in Dresden is 28.6cm high: Dresden, Skulpturen sammlung H4 43/446.

Marble female figure, Marble, Cycladic

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