A Greek marble head of a woman

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Lot 39
A Greek marble head of a woman

Sold for £ 52,562 (US$ 67,631) inc. premium

Antiquities

23 Jul 2020, 10:30 BST

London, New Bond Street

A Greek marble head of a woman
Hellenistic Period, circa 2nd-1st Century B.C.
Wearing a veil drawn up and over the top of her head, with a small fold in the centre and covering the back of her long, elegant neck, her wavy hair centrally-parted and drawn back from the face, her almond-shaped unarticulated eyes heavy-lidded and set beneath arching brows, the underside fashioned for insertion into a separately-made figure, 33cm high

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Anonymous sale; Hôtel des Ventes, M. Marc Kohn, Divonne les Bains, 24 September 1975, lot 52.
    Private collection, UK, acquired at the above sale; and thence by descent to the present owner.

    Veiled heads of women such as this are found from the beginning of the 4th Century B.C., with many of them having been identified as goddesses, such as Hera or Demeter; see a late 4th Century B.C. head, thought to be from Rhodes, now in the St. Louis Museum of Art, in C.C. Vermeule, Greek and Roman Sculpture in America, London, 1981, p. 119, no. 90. As with the present example, these heads were often separately-made from fine marble for insertion into bodies of lesser material, or poorer craftsmanship.

    The distinctive fold at the front edge of the veil suggests a date of the later Hellenistic period, and is also found on a draped standing figure in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin (acc. no. Sk 1904), and the statues of Baebia and Saufeia in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul (acc. no. M550 and M882, reproduced in R.R.R. Smith, Hellenistic Sculpture, London, 1991, p.98, no.116). Intriguingly, these three examples are thought to have come from Magnesia, a city in Greek Ionia, which may suggest that the present lot was also the work of an East Greek sculptor. The Berlin example comes from an over-life-size honorific statue of a private individual, and was discovered in the ancient city hall of Magnesia. The erection of portrait sculpture in public space was a costly burden, suitable only for the elite - one can presume the sitter for the present lot was of similarly exalted status.
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A Greek marble head of a woman
A Greek marble head of a woman
A Greek marble head of a woman
A Greek marble head of a woman
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