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Marble female figure


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 171

Technical analysis: Multiband imaging, raking light examination, optical microscopy, X-ray radiography, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy

This reclining female figure is complete with mended breaks at the neck and in the left foot. It is a fine combination of round modeling and incised details. The oval almond-shaped head has a rounded crown and chin, and a long, wide, centered nose in relief. An incised groove distinguishes the chin from the long, slender, cylindrical neck and the base of the neck from the figure’s torso. The gently sloping shoulders are slightly angular. Two incised, vertical grooves delineate the upper arms and three incisions define the shape of the slender forearms, with no indication of fingers, that are tightly folded below large rectangular breasts that occupy the entire chest. The belly is wide and swollen, covering the area where a pubic triangle is usually indicated. A single curved incision separates the low-hanging belly from the top of the legs, which are separated from the knees to the ankles. The thighs are long and flat at the front and back; whereas, the calves are short and fully rounded at the back. There is no incised line to delineate them from figure’s diminutive feet with no indication of toes. The back has a wide, shallow groove to indicate the spine. The Kapsala type with its distinctive narrow shoulders is the earliest of the figures that uses the four-part symmetrical canon to execute the figure. It is named for the cemetery on the island of Amorgos where the type was recovered in early controlled excavation. Getz-Gentle attributes this example to the Kontoleon sculptor, named for the archaeologist who recovered two similar examples in a grave in Naxos. (1)

This figure is characterized by a complex, highly weathered marble surface with pervasive, homogeneous dissolution of calcite grains, fine calcite redeposition, pitting, diffuse glossy tide lines and orange-brown accretions, some in the form of rootlets. The present-day appearance of the marble is likely the result of multiple surface treatments.

Sandy MacGillivray, Dorothy Abramitis, Federico Carò

(1) See, Thimme, Jürgen, ed. 1977. Art and Culture of the Cyclades: Handbook of an Ancient Civilisation. cat. no. 124, Karlsruhe: C. F. Müller; Getz-Preziosi, Pat. 1987. Early Cycladic Art in North American Collections. pp. 154-55, cat. nos. 22 and 23, Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Getz-Preziosi, Pat. 1987. Sculptors of the Cyclades. Individual and Tradition in the Third Millennium B.C. pp. 83-86, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; Getz-Gentle, Pat. 2001. Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture. pp. 67-70, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Marble female figure, Marble, Cycladic

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