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Marble female figure


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 151

Technical analysis: Multiband imaging, optical microscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy

The figure is in an exceptionally good state of preservation, although its present-day surface is likely the result of heavy mechanical cleaning. There are small losses to the nose and proper left foot, where modern fills have been applied, and various scratches on the surface. It is carved from a pinkish cream-colored marble not typical of the Cyclades. Minimal calcium carbonate accretions are scattered across the front and more prominent accretions appear on the back, especially adhering to the lower buttocks and between the upper thighs. The small head features a prominent nose and clefts for the eyes. The tall neck tapers at the base where it meets the shoulders which extend seamlessly into the arms that are held up to the chest without clear articulation of the hands. The figure is flat-chested and the breasts are not modeled. The high waist is exceptionally narrow for the type but transitions seamlessly again to the full buttocks and an overfold at the lower belly above a large prominent pubic area. Narrow upper thighs help to define the lower triangle of the pubic area and the figure stands on short, rounded legs and small slightly splayed feet.

There about a dozen such Late Neolithic figures known. None of them have secure archaeological contexts but are said to have been found on the Greek islands of Naxos and Aigina, as well as Sparta in the Peloponnese, and parts of Thessaly in northern Greece. The type is considered to be a forerunner of the Plastiras type that develops in the Early Cycladic I period and when one looks at this figure in profile the relationship is particularly evident.

Seán Hemingway, Dorothy Abramitis, Federico Carò

Marble female figure, Marble, Cycladic

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