Head of a Figure of the Early Spedos Variety

Object Details

Title:

Head of a Figure of the Early Spedos Variety

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Cycladic

Place:

Cyclades, Greece (Place created)

Date:

2600–2500 B.C.

Medium:

Marble with traces of polychromy

Object Number:

96.AA.27

Dimensions:

22.8 × 8.9 × 6.4 cm (9 × 3 1/2 × 2 1/2 in.)

See more

See less

Broken from a nearly life-size sculpture, this head is remarkable for its scale and the elegance of its form. Much original paint remains, an unusual occurrence that may be due to its burial in a protected environment, such as a grave. Although we appreciate Cycladic figures today for their abstract simplicity, they were originally decorated with brightly colored pigments that detailed not only facial features, but also hair, jewelry and clothing. The traces of paint preserved on this figure convey some of the original decorated effect. Red pigment on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin may represent tattoos or cosmetic art. Faint bluish color on the top and back of the head indicates hair. Large almond-shaped eyes are evident as “ghosts,” lighter raised areas that thick paint sealed and protected from erosion.

Within Cycladic culture, the figures’ role and meaning remain elusive. While these figures have been found almost exclusively in graves placed on their backs, it is not clear whether they were made specifically for burials. On some examples, the painted decoration has been refreshed, suggesting that the images were in use for a long period of time before being buried. Additionally, a few examples also come from sanctuaries, and would have served a ritual function. Since they could not stand, they may have been held upright in social or religious activities, such as processions. Rare examples, like this one, are quite large, and may have been used in household shrines or ceremonial cult contexts.

Provenance
-

Nicolas Koutoulakis, 1910 - 1996

1964 - 1988

Mr. and Mrs. A. Leuthold [sold, Sotheby's, New York, December, 2, 1988, lot 83, to Edward Merrin.]

1988 - 1991

Asher Edelman (New York, New York)

-

and Edward H. Merrin (Merrin Gallery) (New York, New York), sold to Lawrence Fleischman, 1991.

1991 - 1996

Barbara Fleischman

-

and Lawrence Fleischman, American, 1925 - 1997 (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.

Exhibitions
The Art of the Cyclades: An Exhibition of Sculpture and Artifacts of the Early Cycladic Period, 3000-2000 B.C. (May 7 to June 18, 1983)
  • Safani Gallery (New York), May 7 to June 18, 1983
Masterpieces of Cycladic Art (March 8 to April 12, 1990)
  • The Merrin Gallery (New York), March 8 to April 12, 1990
A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman (October 13, 1994 to April 23, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 13, 1994 to January 15, 1995
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland), February 14 to April 23, 1995
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Silent Witnesses: Early Cycladic Art of the Third Millennium B.C. (April 4 to June 30, 2002)
  • Onassis Cultural Center (New York), April 4 to June 30, 2002
Prehistoric Arts of the Eastern Mediterranean (February 11 to May 4, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 11 to May 4, 2003
Bibliography

Safani Gallery, New York. The Art of the Cyclades. An Exhibition of Sculpture and Artifacts of the Early Cycladic Period, 3000-2000 B.C. May 7-June 18, 1983, fig. 13, ill.

Getz-Preziosi, Pat. Early Cycladic Art in North American Collections. Exh. cat., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, Virginia: 1987), pl. III; cat. no. 43.

Getz-Preziosi, Pat. Sculptors of the Cyclades (Ann Arbor: 1987), pl. xi.

Reif, Rita. "$2 Million Is Paid for a Greek Marble As Ancient Objects Stir New Passion." The New York Times (December 3, 1988), L13, ill.

Sotheby's, New York. Sale cat., Antiquities, December 2, 1988, lot 83, ill.

Getz-Preziosi, Pat. "A Head of an Early Cycladic Marble Figure," Sotheby's, Art at Auction, 1988-1989, p. 300 ff.

Merrin Gallery, New York. Masterpieces of Cycladic Art . New York, n.d. [1989?], no. 17.

Reif, Rita. "Stark Cycladic Figures Haunt Contemporary Collectors." The New York Times (March 25, 1990), H38, ill.

True, Marion, and Kenneth Hamma, eds. A Passion For Antiquities. Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, exh. cat. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994), pp. 42-43, cat. no. 6; also ill. p. 35.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 17.

"Museum Acquisitions Between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 1998." The Report of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1997-98), p. 63.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 17.

Getz-Gentle, Pat. Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture (Madison: 2001), pl. 97.

Doumas, Christos G. Silent Witnesses: Early Cycladic Art of the Third Millennium B.C., exh. cat. Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), April 9-June 15, 2002 (New York: Onassis Foundation, 2002), p. 78, no. 24.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 7.

Hendrix, Elizabeth A. "Painted Early Cycladic Figures. An Exploration of Context and Meaning," Hesperia 72 (2003), p. 481.

Sotirakopoulou, Peggy. The "Keros Hoard": Myth or Reality? (Athens: Goulandris Foundation, 2005), p. 186, cat. 176.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 3, ill.

Getz-Gentle, Pat. "Keros Hoard Objects in Detail: an Addendum to 'The Keros Hoard Revisited'." American Journal of Archaeology online 112, no. 2 (April, 2008), p. 3, no. 176.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 6.