Cycladic Marble Idol attributed to the Kontoleon Master

Greek · Cycladic, Kapsala variety, early Cycladic II, ca. 2700-2600 B.C.




H: 17.7 cm (6.9 in)





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Both simple and attractive in the design, this Cycladic marble statuette conveys a seductive power to the modern artistic taste. According to the chronological and typological systematization of Cycladic canonical figures (reclining female figures with folded arms), this marble statuette belongs to the earliest stage. It is assigned to the Kapsala variety (designated after the cemetery on the island of Amorgos, where the first examples of the type have been uncovered). Based on the execution of details and rendered proportions, the present figure was attributed to an anonymous sculptor named the Kontoleon Master, who was probably a native of the island of Naxos (the artist’s name is derived from the archaeologist Nikolaos Kontoleon, who excavated in the Cyclades). The characteristic features of the Kontoleon sculptor’s style are fully recognizable in this work. The long oval face has broad cheeks and a plastically rendered nose (some examples demonstrate painted facial details and hair). The neck is rather long; the softly round shoulders and the folded arms frame the pointed breasts set just above the tapered forearms. The long thighs are contrasted with short calves, which are modeled naturalistically. The knees are also indicated plastically; the feet, with lightly arched soles, are small and only partially separated. On the back, the spine was prominently incised. The profile of the figure, which is not thin, presents a group of forms differentiated by a special arrangement. This distinctive style, developed by the sculptor, is based on the combination of rounded forms and shapes modeled by planes and lines. The exact meaning and function of these Cycladic idols are not known. Supposedly, they were votive offerings or ritual objects.


Surface cleaned; the back with remains of thick encrustation; broken across the knees and mended, with restoration material.


Art market, prior to 1958;

Ex- Wolfgang Paalen (1905-1959) collection, France/Mexico;

Ex- Dr. Paul (1896-1974) and Mary (1902-1986) Wescher private collection, California, acquired prior to 1958;

Ex- James B. Byrnes and Associates, California;

Ex- Canadian estate acquired in 1977.


P.T. MALONE, ed., The Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Wescher, The Art Center, La Jolla, 10 January-16 February 1958, no. 2.

Phoenix Ancient Art 2020 / 39 , no. 10


P.T. MALONE, ed., The Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Wescher, The Art Center, La Jolla, 10 January-16 February 1958, no. 2.