Draped ionian Kore
Culture: Greek, Greek-East-Greek
Period: Middle of the 6th century B.C. (560-540 B.C.)
Material: Coarse-grained white marble
Dimensions: Height: 45 cm
Acquired on the German art market in 1995.
Head and lower legs now lost; minor chips. Surface in good condition, with carved details clearly visible.
This statue was carved from a monolithic block of marble. Despite the delicate modeling, the rectangular shape of the block is still perceptible, especially at the back of the figure, where the garment (a long veil) shows no incised details. The structure and position of the statue – intended to be seen frontally – are astonishingly simple and effective.
The statue represents a maiden, probably an adolescent, with barely developed breasts; typologically, this statue can thus be identified as a kore. Complete, it would have been about one meter high and was therefore smaller than life size.
The figure stands upright and is turned towards the viewer. One leg was probably positioned slightly behind the other, as indicated by a slight flaring of the veil.
The right arm descends along the body, while the left arm is bent beneath the chest. In her left hand, the maiden holds an object with a flat base, whose significance is difficult to determine because of the minor wear on the surface; it appears to be perhaps an aryballos (small jug) or more probably a vessel in the shape of an animal protome with an open mouth, possibly a lion resembling those widely produced by Archaic potters. The maiden’s right hand clutches part of the fabric of the chiton. Only the fingers of her left hand are marked by long incisions, while those of her right hand are not indicated.
The kore is dressed in the so-called Ionian style. She wears a long and very low-cut chiton, fastened on the arms, which would reach her feet. This garment was held in place by a hidden belt, tied at the waist; the surplus fabric was arranged so as to form a kolpos (blousing), seen at belly level and around the hips, rendered in a somewhat naive manner. The superficial folds of the chiton are rendered by shallow parallel incisions turning in different directions and organized here and there in groups of quarter circles; although the rendering is not realistic, it has allowed the sculptor to create a beautiful linear decoration, which constitutes one of this statue’s main characteristics.
Other details of the garment were certainly added in polychromy, but the traces of paint are unfortunately not preserved.
On her head, the maiden wore a smooth straight veil, which also covers her entire back and probably reached down to her ankles.
Regarding the young girl’s hair, only two braids are visible, descending on each side of her neck, just above the breasts.
Despite the rather small size of the statue, the sculptor has achieved a remarkable level of artistry, as evidenced by the overall harmony and the rendering of the small details.
Several statues of korai can be related to this figure, by either attitude or clothing. They come generally from the Greek cities of Asia Minor and mostly from Samos and Miletus; typologically and stylistically, there are many common features between these works.
This figure belongs to the same typological tradition as the famous statues of maidens dedicated by Cheramyes to the Heraion of Samos (sanctuary to the goddess Hera) and as those of the Geneleos Group, located in the same place. Among the closest parallels, one should especially mention some votive reliefs with female figures discovered at Miletus, as well as a small kore that appeared on the Munich market and probably originated in the same city.
Through these comparisons, it is possible to estimate the dating of this figure to the middle of the 6th century B.C. and to suggest its likely provenance from eastern Greece.
On korai and Ionian sculpture in general, see:
BIELEFELD E., Ein ostgriechischer Koren-Torso, in Wandlungen: Studien zur antiken und neueren Kunst: Festschrift für E. Homann Wedeking, 1975, pp. 53-56 (statuette from the Munich market).
BLÜMEL C., Die archaisch-griechischen Skulpturen der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, 1963, pp. 49-50, nos. 44-46 (Milesian reliefs).
ÖZGAN R., Untersuchungen zur archaischen Plastik Ioniens, Bonn, 1978, (see especially pp. 133 ff.).
RICHTER G.M.A., Korai: Archaic Greek Maidens, London, 1968, nos. 55-57 (Cheramyes) and nos. 67-69 (Geneleos).
TUCHELT K., Die archaischen Skulpturen von Didyma: Beiträge zur frühgriechischen Plastik in Kleinasien, Berlin, 1970.
VON GRAEVE V., Archaische Plastik in Milet, in Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, 34, 1983, pp. 7 ff.