Marble funerary statues of a maiden and a little girl

Period: Late Classical

Date: ca. 320 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Marble, Pentelic

Dimensions: H. of woman 56 7/8 in. (144.5 cm)
H. of girl 40 9/16 in. (103 cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1944

Accession Number: 44.11.2, .3


Toward the end of the fourth century B.C., Attic grave monuments became increasingly elaborate. Freestanding figures, such as these two marble statues, were often placed within a shallow, roofed structure that was open at the front. The larger figure at right represents the deceased, and the smaller figure, probably her handmaiden. Their slender proportions and small heads are characteristic of Greek sculpture of the late fourth century B.C.
The young woman at right wears a full-length peplos over a chiton with buttoned sleeves. Additionally, she has pinned to her shoulders a short mantle that falls down her back. This distinctive manner of dress was apparently reserved for young virgins who had the honor of leading processions to sacrifice, carrying in a basket such implements as barley, fillets, and the sacrificial knife. Being a kanephoros (basket bearer) was the highest honor possible for a maiden in the years just preceding marriage. The original funerary monument would have been a poignant reminder of the young woman's early death, before she was able to marry and bear children.
The small girl at left wears a similar garment, perhaps a sleeved peplos, with a particularly long apoptygma (overfold). While examples of this type of apoptygma appear in depictions of adult women, its construction is especially appropriate to a child. Unstitched, the garment's excess fabric could accommodate a child's growth.