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Grave Naiskos of a Seated Woman with Two Standing Women
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Unknown
Greek, about 340 B.C.
Marble
43 5/16 x 39 3/8 x 9 15/16 in.
73.AA.97

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Three women fill this naiskos, or small funerary shrine. The arrangement of the figures is fairly standard for such monuments in the mid 300s B.C. At the right, a seated woman reaches out and shakes hands with a woman standing at the left. The handshake was a frequent gesture on Greek grave monuments of this time, symbolizing a continuing connection between the deceased and living family members. The third woman, carved in low relief in the background, probably once held her hand to her cheek in a gesture of mourning. Her long-sleeved dress identifies her as a slave.

Although this grave monument follows current fashion in its overall form and placement of figures, the unknown sculptor has still conveyed some sense of individual identity. The wealth of the family is suggested by the details of clothing, the cloth laid over the chair seat, the presence of the slave, and the rolls of flesh on the seated woman's neck. These marks, called "Venus rings," represented the health and fertility that wealth provided. The monument lacks an inscription, which would have indicated for whom it was intended.