The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
European; Southern European; Greek
Ancient Mediterranean, Aegean Islands Europe,Greece,Aegean Islands
Bronze Age, Early Cycladic II, 2600/2400 B.C.
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
Marble, Spedos variety
Style or Period:
This female figure, shaped from a block of island marble, is characteristic of the sculpture of the Cyclades in the third millennium B.C. There is some damage to the nose and the top of the head, and the lower legs were broken off from above the knee and are lost. The local crystalline marble, which splits easily, encouraged the development of a simple style that the conservatism of artisans and users maintained for 500 years. The forms of this sculpture are uncompromisingly abstract: the face is an oval tilted back, the nose a pronounced ridge, and the neck a cylinder. The folded arms are rendered schematically, with only shallow incision articulating fingers, while the abdomen and thighs are long with simple, almost shapeless contours. In profile, the whole figure is strikingly flat and thin. Details of the eyes, mouth, ears, and hair were probably added in paint.
Europe,Greece,Aegean Islands,Cyclades department,Kéa island
H.: 39.6 cm (15-3/4 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago, Katherine K. Adler Endowment
Greek, Cycladic Islands, probably from the island of Keros. Bronze Age, Early Cycladic II, Spedos variety. The female figure was, by far, the most popular subject of this style, although other themes included musicians and male warriors. These scultures have been found mostly in graves, but also in domestic settings. The context of the so-called 'Keros hoard,' from which this piece is thought to have come, continues to be debated. So the specific function of these figures remains puzzling, although they evidently enjoyed use in life and death. Were they images of respected ancestors? Or heroines? Or deities? Whatever their creators had in mind, the enthusiasm for representational art that they embody was the special strength of Cycladic artistic production in the third millennium B.C., and this skill distinguished the islands culturally both from contemporay Crete and mainland Greece.
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