A Statuette of a Young Woman (Tyche/Fortuna?)
Period: 2nd century A.D.
Dimensions: H: 93.9 cm
Wright S. Ludington (1900-1992), Santa Barbara, USA; ex-Avery Brundage collection, USA, acquired from Ludington in the 1960s; ex-Wolfe collection, USA.
Wright Saltus Ludington (1900-1992) was born in Philadelphia to a father who made his fortune in publishing and a mother who collected Impressionist paintings. He inherited property in Montecino from his father in 1927 and settled in Santa Barbara for the rest of his life. Ludington’s love of Greco-Roman art may be traced back to family trips to Europe in the 1920s. He began to collect in 1924, tanks to a small inheritance from his mother. His first purchases were modern and avant-garde artists, soon followed by classical works (Greek, Roman, near Eastern). Modern art and antiquities remained his lifelong passions. He was one of the founders and major donors of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Many works of his fabulous collection are still on view in the museum, like the Roman Hermes formerly in the Lansdowne Collection or a beautiful diorite head of Gudea.
This statuette is well preserved, even if the arms, which were probably carved separately, are now lost. The head was reassembled and many fragments were restored (shoulders, parts of the legs and fabrics, etc.). Despite the minor breaks, one can still notice the high artistic quality of the piece that is perfectly finished in the posterior part also.
This statuette is well preserved, even if the arms, which were probably carved separately, are now lost. The head was reassembled and many fragments were restored (shoulders, parts of the legs and fabrics, etc.). Despite the minor breaks, one can still notice the high artistic quality of the piece that is perfectly finished in the posterior part also, where, for instance, the folds of the chiton and of the cloak fall in a regular, barely less animated manner compared to the frontal view. Stylistically, the most remarkable characteristic of the statuette is the presence of archaizing features, that is typical elements of archaic Greek sculpture, copied here by the Roman artist: one can mention in particular the fashion of wearing the cloak (like for the korai of the 6th century B.C., the garment crosses the chest, forming a thick bulge, and passes on the right shoulder and under the opposite armpit) and the presence of a large mass of vertical folds formed by the chiton between the legs of the young woman in the frontal view.
The statuette – slightly larger than half life size – represents a young woman with slender and elegant proportions. She is standing upright on a small square, low pedestal that was certainly attached to a more ample base. According to a scheme created by Greek art and widely imitated in the Roman period, she is seen frontally, the weight of her body supported by her left leg, while her right leg is slightly bent and a bit behind: this position results in a swaying motion, clearly visible despite the thick fabrics that hide her hips. Only the tip of the right foot touches the ground. The absence of tenons on the chest would suggest that the arms of the young woman were falling along the body: unfortunately, no attribute is preserved that would enable us to identify the young woman.
Like the Archaic korai, the woman is dressed in a very long linen chiton (it reaches the feet and partially covers them) and in a himation (cloak) placed over her shoulder. Worn this way, the himation was sometimes held by a belt.
The head, a bit too small compared to the size of the body, is adorned with a crescentic diadem, while the face shows delicate and idealized features
similar to those of a mythological figure or of a goddess. The face has a rounded outline with a small pointed chin, full curved lips, a nose and brows which were regularly carved, and almond-shaped eyes (the caruncle was made using a drill). The hair repeats a arrangement seen in many images of deities: abundant wavy locks, parted in the middle and held in place by the diadem, fall down to the left and right of the forehead, where they partially hide the ears. These locks are then combed backwards, where they form a round bun on the neck. Two locks, which are now restored and whose original traces are just slightly visible, escaped left and right of the bun and fell down the neck.
An element is useful for the identification of this goddess: at the height of her left breast is a superficial abrasion at the center of which stands a small iron tenon. This tenon might have been used to attach the upper part of a cornucopia, the horn of plenty, and one can easily imagine that the lower end of this object was supported by the left hand of the woman, which arrived at thigh level. In this case, the figure could be identified as Tyche/Fortuna or, but this is less probable, as Isis. Tyche/Fortuna was the Greco-Roman personification of fortune and chance (Τυχη in Greek, Fortuna to the Romans). Unknown to the Homeric poems, she gained popularity over the centuries and became an omnipotent goddess in the Hellenistic and
Roman period. She was the protector of the destiny of a city (each city had its Tyche wearing a wall-shaped crown on her head), but she could also play with the life of mortals with her rudder or her ball.
Other typological and stylistic elements support this hypothesis: there are indeed Roman copies dated to the early Imperial period, which represent this personification in a similar pose and mostly with archaizing features, although the position of the legs is often reversed.
FULLERTON M., The Archaistic Style in Roman Statuary, Leiden, 1990 Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), vol. V, Zurich, 1990, p. 768, no. 59ff. (Isis); vol. VIII, Zurich, 1997, p. 128, no. 41 (Tyche-Fortuna).
SCHRÖDER S.F., Katalog der antiken Skulpturen des Museo del Prado in Madrid, Mainz/Rhine, 2004, pp. 405-407, no. 189.
ZAGDOUN M.-A., La sculpture archaïsante dans l’art hellénistique et dans l’art romain du Haut-Empire, Paris, 1989, pl. 53-54, fi g. 194-196