Price On Request.
TITLE: Female statue of a large Herculaneum woman.
CULTURE: Roman Empire
PERIOD: 1st Century AD
SIZE: Height 157 cm; weight 414 kg
PRICE: On request.
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Asia. Acquired in the 1980s. Provided of oficial export license issued by the Ministry of culture. Provided of Art Loss Register certificate.
CONDITION: General wear due to having been in water and with the loss of the head. Apart from this, in good condition.
A monumental marble sculpture representing a female figure with toga. Dressed in a mantle and a chiton, her pose is tranquil and relaxed, with her left foot free and a little to one side but without lifting the heel. The placing of the right arm, bent at the elbow with the hand near the right shoulder, underlines the extreme containment of her appearance, with the centre of attention on the elaborate set of pleats in her apparel. This is comprised of a long inner tunic, the chiton, and a large mantle of fine material. At her feet the vertical folds of the chiton can be seen below the material of the mantle. Small weights attached the lower border of this garment give an elegant fall to this light fabric.
As usual the mantle is passed around the back over the left shoulder. The fabric is fine enough and wide enough to allow it to be draped around the left arm and hand in such a manner that only the thumb and index finger can be seen below the delicate folds. This subtle effect must have been especially elegant with the contrast between the white fingers and the tunic painted in colour. The most outstanding feature of the pleating, which gives the statue its unmistakable stamp, is the work on the folds of the fabric covering the front of the figure. The upper edge of the sumptuous cloth, thrown back over the left shoulder, has slipped down as if by accident from the shoulder to the wrist. In this way a triangle of tight folds is seen between the shoulders and the hands, with the vertex at the right hand holding the edge of the mantle. The composition, made up of the long curving fall wrapping the lower section of the body and the geometric triangle over the left side of the chest, gives the figure a special attraction, which in ancient times was even more pronounced by the colouring.
With these characteristics, this sculpture belongs to the type known as large Herculaneum woman. This was one of the sculptural models most used in the Imperial Roman period followed closely by a type known as small Herculaneum woman. However there is no indication that these types of works originally made up a pair. The Romans of the Imperial period could find statues of this iconographic type in cities and sanctuaries in the Mediterranean region, and they were predominantly, or exclusively, portrait statues placed in squares and public buildings. From the end of Hellenism to the end of the Empire, that is, over a period of more than four hundred years, the statues with toga of the large Herculaneum woman type provided an adequate model for the portraits statues of women from the middle and upper strata of society.
There is a wide consensus about the creation of the original of the large Herculaneum woman in the decades 330-310 BC, although during these two decades the criteria varied. A comparison with the statue of Sophocles, created between 336 and 326/325 BC and the portrait sculpture of the orator Aeschines, which must be dated around 315 BC, is used to justify a plausible way of dating of the Herculaneum woman to the twenties of the 4th Century BC. This dating is further supported by the stylistic proximity of funerary reliefs of the late Attic period, for example that of Lysippos, of the famous stele of the marriage of Rhamnus.
- BIEBER, Margaret. Ancient copies. Contributions to the history of Greek and Roman art. New York University Press, 1977.