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Seated Figure

Date:
1st century BCE–1st century CE
Geography:
Colombia or Ecuador
Culture:
Tolita-Tumaco
Medium:
Ceramic
Dimensions:
H. 25 x W. 14 1/2 x D. 13 in. (63.5 x 36.8 x 33cm)
Classification:
Ceramics-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Gertrud A. Mellon, 1982
Accession Number:
1982.231
  • Description

    This vivid figure is representative of a well-known type of seated male figure from the Pacific coast region of northern Ecuador and southern Colombia. Low-lying and swampy--and inhospitable to the later Spanish colonists of the 1500s--the area was home at the turn of the first millennium A.D. to the people of the Tolita-Tumaco culture, who made large ceramic sculptures with great skill. These three-dimensional works of impressive size, which today are usually fragmentary, stand out within the larger corpus of Precolumbian South American ceramic works primarily for their size and their uncommonly expressive portrayal of the human face and figure. The example here has the face of old age--with wrinkles, baggy skin beneath the eyes, only a few remaining teeth, and stubble on the chin; but these features only enhance the presence and heighten the drama of the forward-thrusting figure. Clearly a man of high status, he wears bracelets and a collar and originally had other ornaments in his ears and nose that may have been made of gold.

  • Provenance

    [Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, until 1971]; Gertrude A. Mellon, New York, 1971–1982

  • See also
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
314299

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