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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Greco-Roman Art : Female Head
Female Head - CB.005
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 600 BC to 480 BC
Dimensions: 5" (12.7cm) high
Style: Archaic
Medium: stone
Condition: Fine

Location: Great Britain
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Oval fleshy face, with well- integrated features, narrower at the jaw and broader at the temples, almond-shaped eyes with carved and slightly protruding bulbs, short pointed nose, the hair neatly arranged in three parallel rows of tiny kiss-curls along the forehead, all the way down to the rather large and not particularly elaborate ears. The rest of the hair, the head and nape are covered by a long veil. Long and heavy neck. Several facial details such as lids, irises and pupils could have originally been added or could have been made to stand out in bright paint. Small depressions around mouth and outer corners of lips still give the hint of a delicate smile, typical of Archaic sculpture in general. The head is delicately rendered and shows the characteristic facial lineaments and customary aspect of Italic/East Greek sculptures of the mid-sixth century BC. By definition, Kore (maiden) is a type of freestanding statue representing a young female, which appeared with the beginning of Greek monumental sculpture about 660 BC. and continued to be created until the end of the Archaic period, around 480 BC., either as votive or commemorative statues. As with everything else in Greek art, the Kore type evolved over this period of 180 years from a highly stylized form to a more naturalistic one. The majority of the Korai statues had the main body of the carved from a single block of stone , with the head and the arms made out of a different block. They are represented in a forward pose with one leg, usually the left, extended slightly in advance (though sometimes with feet together), and with one hand pulling the dress aside. The free hand was holding an offering to the god or goddess. The garments worn in different variations by the Korai were the heavy tunic or peplos, often on top of the lighter and more graceful chiton, also the Ionian himation, a short, pleated cloak and finally the epiblema, a shawllike stole. All the garments displayed patterns, either on the borders or as single ornaments arranged in designs, artfully scattered over the entire surface of the drapery. Sculptors took immense delight in creating superb rhythmic balance with the folds of the garment as it draped over their bodies, with the masterfully carved marble revealing the ornate quality of the drapery’s edges, which was either painted or elaborately worked with the chisel. With Kore statues, the human anatomy is of course acknowledged under the drapery but it is never overly emphasized. Instead the lines of the drapery form smooth shapes that flow with ease, creating a serene, almost hypnotic aura, duly complemented by the peaceful facial expression and the relative motionless body. The arms of Korai are often down by the sides, though in most cases one of the hands is brought up closely across the front of the body or as mentioned above is extended, holding an offering; the other hand is then lowered, often clasping a fold of drapery. In the earliest examples of Korai, their bodies still appear square and solid and, the most artistically interesting feature being the bold patterns formed by the grooves of their drapery. Later, the drapery became more fluid, with a greater variation in the folds gained by having one hand of the Kore pull the drapery tightly across her lower body. Like the Kouroi (statues of nude male youths), the kore type was inspired by Egyptian art, with comparisons found particularly in statues and statuettes of the Egyptian New Kingdom. It is not known exactly what the Korai statues represent. A great number of Korai statues has been unearthed at the Acropolis of Athens, the majority of them dating to the beginning of the 6th c. BC. Those found within the Athenian sanctuary do not have the attributes necessary to identify them as representations of the goddess associated with this sanctuary, Athena. In addition, many of the figures seem to be gesturing in a manner suggestive of offering or of showing gratitude for a grace received, so it is possible that these korai were intended mainly as representations of young girls in the service of the goddess. According to the most accepted interpretations of archaeological evidence, Kore statues were dedications of wealthy patrons and never represented deities. Most of the Korai statues are either life-size or a little smaller, and were developed with the same techniques and proportional conventions as the Kouros equivalent of the same era. Korai statues were thoroughly painted in ancient times in order to emphasize the life-likeness of their beauty by applying pigment, the colour applied to the surface of the stone by using the encaustic technique. In this process, colored pigment was mixed with wax that was used as a bonding agent, and the mixture was applied to the sculpture after it was heated. Once cool, the waxed surface would seal the natural pores of the stone preventing, thus its erosion. Consequently, the material used to carve the statues was chosen more for its qualities in workmanship and its durability, and less for its color or translucently. In the early days most Kore and Kouros statues were made of limestone, which is relatively soft, and porous. As such, limestone is easy to carve and holds pigments well on its surface, but it deteriorates relatively fast when presented outdoors. When exposed to the elements, the details of a limestone statue could be lost even within the lifetime of the patrons who commissioned it. It is no surprise therefore that marble would be preferred since its hardness can resist erosion longer, even if it is a harder material to carve. - (CB.005)


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