The Treasury - Fine Greek Art


11167. TANAGRA GREEK FIGURE OF A LADY. Greece, Boeotia, c. 300-250 BC. Ceramic figure of a young lady standing with her weight on her left leg, wearing a chiton and himation arranged to leave her breasts and shoulders exposed, her right hand supporting herself on a pedestal, her left hand likely originally holding a fan but now broken at the elbow. Her hair centrally parted and drawn into a knot at the back. Finely modeled from brown clay with traces of original white pigment. Professional museum quality repair from several large shards but all original except one corner of back base. 6.5 inches in height. Collected in the early 1900's in Greece by the grandmother of the current elderly owner. Shown to the Victoria and Albert museum in 1987 which confirmed its authenticity.

'Tanagras' are named after the site in Boeotia, central Greece, where thousands of similar figures were unearthed in the early 1870s. Figures of men, children and comic actors were also found at Tanagra, but standing female figures are the most numerous. The chief appeal of Tanagra figures lies in their exceptional artistic quality usually considered to be the finest of all Greek figurines. The ladies are normally depicted in casual poses and their clothes, which usually consist of a thinner undergarment, the chiton, worn beneath a thicker cloak or himation, are typically pulled and twisted in pleasing patterns which emphasize the form of the figure beneath. Most Tanagra figures are mould made and sometimes have a vent cut in the back to ensure even distribution of heat in the firing. After firing, the figure was coated in a white slip, often a solution of chalk or white clay, and then colors were added on top. The artists who produced these figures were known as coroplasts, literally 'modelers of girls'.