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Marble female figure


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 151

Technical Analysis: Ultraviolet-induced visible luminescence examination, optical microscopy

This nearly intact seated female figure comprises three schematic parts: an elongated cylindrical neck and ellipsoidal head, a thin rectangular upper body and a thick, voluminous, nearly rectangular lower body. The centrally placed nose projects in low relief as do the disc-shaped ears at the sides of the head. The left ear has three pierced holes. A smooth, curved groove separates the head from the neck. The upper body has uneven, flat rounded shoulders and elongated arms carved away from a long, flat narrow chest. The lower arms or hands join the lower part of the chest. The curvilinear belly is long, flat and broader than the chest. The voluminous lower part indicates that the figure is seated with knees bent. No primary gender is indicated as the positioning of the legs conceals the pubic area. Three vertical grooves delineate the shins. The bottom is carved flat.

This seated female figure represents a unique hybrid type composed of schematic elements more reminiscent of violin-shaped figures and naturalistic elements more common in the Plastiras type. However, its rendering and suggested date indicate that the object may require further analysis. Pat Getz-Gentle in her publication presents various general arguments for its incorporation into Cycladic sculpture. A smaller figure from the Stern Collection of Cycladic Art, L.2022.38.59, is the only other known parallel.

The figure was carved from white marble with grey veining. There is a stable crack at the right front of the neck. The back of the figure is covered with a thick layer of beige burial accretions. Accretion is thinner and more even on the lower front of the figure. The center piercing in the right ear is intact but losses at the top and bottom of the ear have opened up the remaining two holes. The surface of the stone is worn with scrapes, possibly recent, across the top of the head, and on the front of the figure. A modern coating that fluoresces yellow under ultraviolet illumination is visible at the right ear, the back of the right hand and the underside.

Georgios Gavalas and Linda Borsch

Marble female figure, Marble, Cycladic

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