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Female figurine in robe, "Tanagra figurine"



Female figurine in robe, "Tanagra figurine", Inv. T I-18

Front from the mould, back not finished, smoothed, large rectangular kilning hole.

Fine reddish (2.5YR 6/6) clay without inclusions. Almost completely covered by white engobe, no traces of paint.

Provenance: Unknown.

State of preservation: Missing part on the left side of the neck and on the left foot, otherwise intact.

Dimensions: H: 14,1 cm; W: 5,6 cm; W of the plinth: 4,7 cm; D of the plinth: 3,8 cm; D: 3,0 cm.

References: Not published.


Description: On a low rectangular plinth, rounded at the back, stands a female figurine in a long chiton and a cloak that completely covers the front up to the knees. The right leg is placed to the side in a relaxed position. The head leans slightly forward, the upper body is slightly reclined.
The vertical plastically curved folds of the chiton reach down to the floor and onto the tips of the shoes, where the fabric accumulates a little. The coat wraps around the neck, covers the back of the head and falls loosely over the right arm, which is propped up at the side. Numerous transverse and oblique folds, which look as if they have been levelled because of the thick layer of engobe, enliven the broad surface of the fabric. On the right side of the body a deep valley of folds extends from the elbow to the knee. Dense coat folds wrap around the left arm, which hangs down slightly bent. Only the hand, which grasps a corner of the robe, is uncovered; one can make out the individual fingers.
The spherical head is not only tilted forward, but also a little towards the left shoulder. There, the neckline and chin-cheek line are somewhat shortened compared to the right side. Above the forehead the hair parts and leads in two strands to the projecting back of the head. In the rounded face the forehead and nose form almost a straight line; the chin recedes. The relatively small eyes are set wide apart and the brows are arched at the root of the nose.

Commentary: The overall impression of the figure is determined by the surface of the cloak and its collar-like upper hem wrapped around the neck. The right arm supported on the hip is reminiscent of the portrait statue of Sophocles[1], even though this motif is the other arm. The female terracotta figurines in comparable postures are not fixed to one side with regard to the stance and the bending of the arm[2]. T I-18 can be included in the group with bent right arm and non-supporting right leg. Repetitions and variants from different parts of Greece and other Mediterranean countries prove the popularity of the type[3].
The Giessen statuette is designed for front view. On the back, the sculptural elaboration is limited to the arching of the back of the head. The left elbow and the folds of the cloak wrapped tightly around the arm draw the eye into the depths and give the figure a three-dimensional effect. Other examples of the same type spread out more in the plane[4]. Vertically descending chiton folds limit the view. The coat hugs the body closely, modelling the waist and the protruding right elbow. The figure almost seems to 'front' the viewer. A Campanian statuette[5] conveys more movement, with the left hip pushed out and the fabric drawn in between the thighs. In contrast, a certain calmness emanates from the Giessen example with its pyramidal structure characteristic of the 3rd century BC.
The question of landscape affiliation is not easy to answer. Comparison pieces from Boeotia differ significantly in iconographic terms[6]. Due to the reddish tone colour and the remarkable quality, an Attic workshop cannot be ruled out[7]. There is a similarity with a particularly high-quality seated female figure from the Athenian Kerameikos. The similarities relate not only to the shape of the head and the contour lines and features of the face, but also concern the careful elaboration of the neck region and the posture of the left arm. Coins datable to 307 BC had been recovered in the immediate vicinity, so that this date can be regarded as terminus ante quem for the find context[8]. T I-18, however, was probably made somewhat later, at the beginning of the 3rd century BC.

Determination: Early 3rd century BC? From Attica?




[1] F. Rumscheid, Die figürlichen Terrakotten von Priene (Wiesbaden 2006) 186 f.

[2] La "Sophocléenne", V. Jeammet, Tanagra. Mythe et Archéologie (Paris 2003) 199-203.

[3] L. Burn – R. Higgins, Greek Terracottas in the British Museum III (London 2001) 216 nos. 2667. 2668 pl. 105, 45 f. nos. 2043. 2044 pl. 8; F. Hamdorf, Die figürlichen Terrakotten der Staatlichen Antikensammlungen München 2 (Lindenberg im Allgäu 2014) 182 f. D 86 (Mantel und Armhaltung wie Burn – Higgins a. O. Taf. 8 a und b); p. 183 D.87. D 88; from South Italy ibid. 525 E 572; from Egypt, R. A. Higgins, GreekTerracotts (London 1967) 130 pl. 62 E; from Athens, G. Kleiner, Tanagrafiguren (Berlin 1942 124 f. note 9 pl. 11 a; "from Korinth", Torso, E. Schmidt, Katalog der antiken Terrakotten I Würzburg (Mainz 1994) 97 no. 141 pl. 27; from Myrina, ibid. 103 no. 151 pl. 29 and S. Mollard-Besque, Myrina (Paris 1963) 94 pl. 111a.

[4] Mollard-Besques ibid. 1963, 100, pl. 117f.

[5] G. Greco – A. Pontrandolfo, Fratte. Un insediamento etrusco-campano (Modena 1990) 114 f. 101 fig. 210.

[6] Burn – Higgins ibid. pls. 8 a and b; Hamdorf ibid. 182 D 86.

[7] For example, the restrained movements mentioned above and the asymmetrical design of the lower face and neck region. Attic comparative pieces: Athens, near Agora, St. G. Miller, Menon'sCistern, Hesperia 43, 1974, 217-219 nos. 103. 104. T 2474 pl. 41; V. Mitsopoulos-Leon, Brauron. Die Tonstatuetten aus dem Heiligtum der Artemis. Die jüngere Phase (Athen 2015) 82 f. nos. 42. 47 pl. 7; Kleiner ibid. pl. 11 a; B. Vierneisel-Schlörb, Die figürlichen Terrakotten. Kerameikos 15 (München 1997) 112 f. 121 f. no. 366 pl. 65, 1.

[8] Vierneisel-Schlörb ibid. 130-132 no. 404 pl. 70.