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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Artwork of the day

The Lady of Auxerre,  c. 640 BC, limestone, Louvre, Paris

The most famous example of the Daedalic style, the Lady of Auxerre, probably of Cretan origin, dates from 640 BC the period of Greek art traditionally called orientalising. The statue combines a mixture of different Eastern traditions with Greek elements. The female figure is dressed in a stylised cloth which ends at a long skirt decorated with almost geometric designs. Her hand is placed on her breast, a probable imitation of the Astarte figure or a sign of adoration. Her hair and face are reminiscent of Egyptian statues.
In sculpture the orientalising elements changed the rendering of the human figure and face. While in geometric statuettes the human anatomy and facial characteristics received minimum –almost non existent- attention, 7th century pieces are characterised by exaggerated features, especially when one looks at the eyes, the nose and the carefully rendered hair. Bronze nude warrior-gods common in Syria and the Hittite empire were adopted by Greek artists. In female statues, the nude goddess Astarte was soon replaced by a dressed Greek counterpart representing Aphrodite, a move that lead to the introduction of the so-called daedalic style. In sculpture too the Egyptian influence must have been catalytic. Probably inspired by Egyptian prototypes, Greek artists gradually started creating statues from more luxurious and lasting material, in particular bronze, limestone and later marble, while the size of these artworks gradually increased to over life size pieces.

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