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Gallery Text

The objects in this case present different visions of the female body. Statuette or vessel, funerary offering or object of worship, decorative feature or conscious work of art, they would have elicited very different — though not mutually exclusive — responses when seen in their original contexts. Some called for symbolic or religious understanding and were used in ritual, such as the Cycladic figure; others invited their viewers to reconstruct a narrative scenario, such as the Aphrodite binding her sandal; whereas yet others offered visceral aesthetic, sensual, and perhaps even tactile delight. One of the bodies here — Lachaise’s Woman Bending Backward — is not from the ancient world, but, like many other European and American works, depends very much on Greco-Roman models and ideals, even as it distances itself from them, for example with a pose not known from representations of women in antiquity.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Alabastron (oil flask) in the Form of a Woman Holding a Dove
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Alabastron (Perfume Flask), "Cypriote Series": Woman holding a Dove
Work Type
c. 550 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Archaic period
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3200, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Classical Sculpture
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Physical Descriptions

26 x 3 x 5 cm (10 1/4 x 1 3/16 x 1 15/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[Muenzen and Medaillen A. G., Basel, August 1962, Liste E, 120], sold; to Frederick M. Watkins, New Haven, CT, (by 1962), bequest; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1972.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Frederick M. Watkins
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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The upper part of this alabastron is modeled as a standing woman with a veil over her head. She wears a necklace and holds a bird to her chest with the proper right hand; the left arm is on the side of the body, with the hand closed. The back is plain and thickly incrusted. The figure was made in a mold, but there was some retooling of mouth and chin, and the lines between the fingers holding the bird were incised.

The vessel is made of micaceous clay that is fired reddish brown and shows distinct polishing marks. Remains of red paint survive on the rim. The surface is damaged in the lower part and there is a crack on the proper right side.

Publication History

  • The Frederick M. Watkins Collection, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1973)

Exhibition History

  • The Frederick M. Watkins Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/31/1973 - 03/14/1973
  • 32Q: 3200 West Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at