The J. Paul Getty Museum

Group of Statues of Mourning Women (4)

Object Details


Group of Statues of Mourning Women (4)




South Italian (Apulian, Canosan)


Canosa, South Italy (Place Created)


300–275 B.C.



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Object Description

This group of mourning women, often understood as female figures in prayer (orantes), was likely produced in the area of Canosa in south-eastern Italy. Although there are considerable differences in terms of clothing, poses and hairstyles, the four statues seem to depict a type of youthful female figure, probably envisioned as one of the mourners who expressed their grief during funerary ceremonies.The group was intended to be placed around a funerary couch (kline), and was probably produced for a fairly prestigious client who, in the context of Romanization in the area, aspired to underscore his economic prosperity, personal identity, and native traditions. The figures were made not with molds, as has been previously conjectured, but rather through a modeling process over a fairly thick conical structure. Working from the bottom up, clay pieces were laid over this hollow structure to define the anatomy and iconographic details of the figure. The forearms, created separately, and the head, made with a bivalve mold, were inserted in holes specially made by the craftsman. The tubular structure was then modeled from within to establish the round shapes of knees and breasts, and from the exterior, through the application of clay parts, to depict the details of the chiton and himation. A spatula and other sharp tools were used to define the hair, eyes, and various details of clothing. Colors were applied after the firing over a preparatory layer of white slip, which has been preserved in several areas. The palette shows little variety, consisting of pink, red, white, possibly dark brown, and black.

by 1984 -1985

Galerie Hydra (Geneva, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1985.

Underworld: Imagining the Afterlife (October 31, 2018 to March 18, 2019)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), October 31, 2018 to March 18, 2019

"Acquisitions/1985." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 14 (1986), All are published.

Mazzei, M., "L'ipogeo Monterisi Rossignoli di Canosa," Annali. Archeologia e Storia Antica, Vol. XII (1990), pp. 123-167, pp. 138-39. Objects cited without inv. nos.

Mazzei, Marina, "Ipogeo Barbarossa" (where cited without accession numbers as comparanda for three similar figures in Naples), Principi imperatori vescovi. Duemila anni di storia a Canosa, 1992, pp. 197-202, Cassano, Raffaella, pp. 199-201.

Ferruzza-Giacommara, Maria Lucia. "Quattro statue in terracotta provenienti da Canosa," Studia Varia from the J. Paul Getty Museum 1. Occasional Papers on Antiquities 8 (1993), pp. 71-82, All are published; ill. as group in fig. 1.

Van der Wielen-van Ommeren, F. "Orantes, canosines." Genève et l'Italie: Mélanges de la Société genevoise d'études italiennes 3 (1999), pp. 43-65, nos 14-17.

Jeammet, Violaine. "Quelques particularités de la production des pleureuses canosines en terre cuite." Revue Archéologique 36, no. 2 (2003), pp. 224-292, p. 291, nos 43-46.

Ferruzza, Maria Lucia. Ancient Terracottas from South Italy and Sicily in the J. Paul Getty Museum. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), all exts. published; see records for details.

D'Angelo, T. and Muratov, M. "Silent Attendants. Terracotta Statues and Death Rituals in Cansoa." In Dillon, M., Eidinow, E., and Maurizio, L. (eds.), Women's Ritual Competence in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2017), pp. 68, 76, 79.

Allen, Ruth. "Science Reveals New Clues about Mysterious Ancient Greek Sculptures of Mourning Women." The Iris (March 12, 2019),