Girl beside a Funerary Stele

Myrina (Hellenistic Asia Minor)
ca. 130/100 BC

Clay with polychromy
Height 31 cm



Over the course of generations, the outdoor areas of temples, cemeteries, and the market squares of Greek cities became filled with hundreds of life-size and larger-than-life-size statues. Paintings moreover adorned the interior walls of columned halls and temples. In burial chambers as well as in the rooms of private houses, miniature clay sculptures have been discovered.

These statuettes, which were generally pressed from moulds and produced in large quantities, are often reproductions of the larger sculptures mentioned above. However, many new subjects were also developed in the workshops of the “coroplasts”, including figures of comedic actors, drastic caricatures, and human physical deformities. Especially popular were beautiful portraits of affluent women.

Countless such portraits have been discovered in graves in the Greek cities of Tanagra, Tarent, and Myrina. One extraordinarily attractive and appealing work depicts a young woman leaning against a funerary stele—could it be a reference to her own grave? Her right hip stands out prominently, since she is putting her entire weight on her right leg. Her left leg, which rests casually on the column’s base, is clearly delineated beneath her robe. Her hair is adorned with a wreath of leaves and “korymboi” (fruits of the ivy plant). While the sleeves of her orange chiton feature bright blue decorations, her loose-fitting cloak is fringed by greyish blue and white bands at its edges.