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Marble statue of an old woman

Early Imperial, Julio-Claudian
A.D. 14–68
Marble, Pentelic
H. 49 5/8 in. (125.98 cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1909
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Copy of a Greek work of the second century B.C.

    During the Hellenistic period, artists became concerned with the accurate representation of childhood, old age, and even physical deformity. The range of subject matter was extended to include genre-like figures from the fringes of society. Fine, large-scale statues of fishermen, peasants, and aged courtesans became valued religious dedications, sometimes placed in a park-like setting within the
    sanctuary of the god. Although this statue is known familiarly as The Old Market Woman, it probably represents an aged courtesan on her way to a festival of Dionysos, the god of wine. Her delicate sandals and the ample material in her thin, elaborately draped chiton are a far cry from the rough garb of a peasant woman. The ivy wreath on her head marks her association with Dionysos, and the basket of fruit and the two chickens must be dedicatory gifts to the god or simply her own provisions for a long day of celebration. Veneration of Dionysos was widespread
    during the Hellenistic period, and ancient literary descriptions give an idea of the extraordinary processions and festivals held in his honor. The flattened composition of the figure is typical of sculpture created in the late second century B.C. The original work may have been dedicated in a sanctuary of Dionysos. The Roman copy could have decorated a garden.

  • Provenance

    Found in Rome, September 1907, on land belonging to the Congregazione degli Operai della Divina Pietà (Robinson 1909, p. 206).

    September 1907, found on property belonging to the Congregazione degli Opera della Divina Pietà, Rome; after 1907, purchased by A. and A. Jandolo from the Congregazione; acquired March 1909, purchased from A. and A. Jandolo, Rome.

  • References

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1917. Handbook of the Classical Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 235, fig. 144.

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1927. Handbook of the Classical Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 276-77, fig. 196.

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1930. Handbook of the Classical Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 276-77, fig. 196.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1936[1934]. A Guide to the Collections, Part 1: Ancient and Oriental Art, 2nd edn. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1939. Guide to the Collections: Ancient and Oriental Art--Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman Far Eastern, Near Eastern Oriental Armor, Vol. 1, World's Fair Edition. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1950. The Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks, 3rd edn. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 82, 420, fig. 219.

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1953. Handbook of the Greek Collection. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, pp. 143, 284, pl. 124c.

    Richter, Gisela M. A. 1954. Catalogue of Greek Sculptures. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, no. 221, p. 111, pl. 154.

    Bieber, Margarete. 1961. The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 141, n 50, fig. 590.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1970. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. New York: Dutton.

    Thimme, Jürgen. 1976. Kunst und Kultur der Kykladeninseln im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.: Ausstellung unter d. Patronat des International Council of Museums ICOM im Karlsruher Schloss vom 25. Juni-10. Oktober 1976. Karlsruhe: Müller, no. 54, pp. 10, 74W.

    Reusser, Christoph. 1993. Der Fidestempel auf dem Kapitol in Rom und seine Ausstattung: Ein Beitrag zu den Ausgrabungen an der Via del Mare und um das Kapitol 1926-1943. Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider, no. 9, figs. 102-6.

    1994. Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide: Works of Art Selected by Philippe De Montebello. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Bol, Peter C. 1997. Liebieghaus-Museum alter Plastik. Fuhrer durch die Sammlungen: Griechische und Romische Plastik. Frankfurt am Main: Liebieghaus Skulpturen Sammlung, p. 188, Abb. 122.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 432, pp. 371, 490.

    Leona, Marco and Dr. Seán Hemingway. 2009. "The Materiality of Art: Scientific Research in Art History and Art Conservation at the Metropolitan Museum." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 67(1): p. 7, fig. 7.

    Cain, Hans-Ulrich. 2012. "Auf die Spitze getriebene Hellenisierung." Hellenismus. Eine Welt im Umbuch.. Stuttgart: Konrad Theiss Verlag, p. 112.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History