Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1933.128
Title
Female Votive Statuette
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
Date
late 5th-2nd century BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Hispania
Period
Iron Age
Culture
Iberian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/291850
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Leaded bronze
Technique
Cast, lost-wax process
Dimensions
7.3 cm (2 7/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead
Other Elements: iron, nickel, silver, antimony

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is light green with a few brown burial accretions. The surface is well preserved. The nose, feet, right hand, and other areas have lost up to 1 mm of the surface from chipping or abrasion losses of the deep layer of corrosion products. Small holes across the surface are the result of porosity in the casting and are more evident in the areas where the corrosion products have been lost.

The object is a solid cast, probably from a model made by working directly in wax that included most of the details. The eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and fingers may have been enhanced by cold working.


Henry Lie (submitted 2011)

Provenance
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, (by 1933), by exchange; to the Fogg Art Museum.

Excavated at the sanctuary site of Collado de los Jardines, Jaén, in the early 1900s.

Note: In exchange for a Sepulchral slab from the Cemetery at Sahagun, Leon, Spain.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of The Republic of Spain through the Museo Arqueologico Nacional and Professor A. Kingsley Porter
Accession Year
1933
Object Number
1933.128
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This simple, almost schematic, statuette of a female offerant is mostly flat and featureless, except for details of the face, arms, hem of the garment, and feet (1). The woman may wear a low, curved, and uncovered headdress that is otherwise featureless, although the back of the head of the statuette is convex. Her eyes are raised circular discs, the nose is small and triangular, and upper and lower lips are clearly molded. Minute vertical lines above the eyes may indicate eyebrows. Her small, pointed chin is held slightly upward. Her neck is thick and flat, leading to sloping shoulders and a flat, triangular torso. She wears a long, form-fitting, and featureless dress with the end of the hem clearly indicated around the ankles. Her arms are held pressed against her sides, with narrow grooves on either side indicating the separation of her torso and arms. Her left arm is completely fused to her side, with the palm pressed against her left hip; shallow incisions indicate fingers. The right arm is slightly bent near the wrist, holding the palm upward; part of the hand is missing, although it was likely once holding out an offering; two small incisions indicate fingers. Below the narrow waist, the statuette becomes blocky and herm-like, particularly on the front, where the dress takes on a straight, rectangular appearance. On the back, it is slightly rounder, especially around the buttocks. The feet are a solid block with a groove on the top and between the heels to indicate their separation.

Thousands of small, anthropomorphic copper alloy statuettes and anatomical votives have been recovered from remote sanctuary sites in south-central Spain, particularly Collado de los Jardines and Castellar de Santisteban, but it is not certain to which god or gods they were dedicated (2). Many of the statuettes depict individuals, some of whom are represented in poses of prayer or offering (3). Some are very abstract and schematically rendered, while others wear identifiable contemporary clothing (4). In spite of the similarity of the votives, there is nothing to indicate that the intention behind each offering was the same. This example is most likely from the cave sanctuary of Collado de los Jardines near Santa Elena, Jaén. It was given to Harvard in 1933 by the Republic of Spain in exchange for the cover of the eleventh-century sarcophagus of Alfonso Ansúrez from Sahagún, León, which was then in the collection of the Fogg Art Museum (5).

NOTES:

1. Compare L. Prados Torreira, Exvotos ibericos de bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1992) 190, no. 218, which is similar although it is described as a male figure.

2. See F. Álvarez-Ossorio, Bronces ibéricos o hispánicos del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (Madrid, 1935) 20-27; id., Catálogo de los exvotos de bronce ibéricos (Madrid, 1941); L. Prados Torreira, “Los exvotos anatomicos del santuario iberico de Collado de los Jardines (Sta. Elena, Jaén),” Trabajos de prehistoria 48 (1991): 313-32; ead. 1992 (supra 1); ead., “Los santuarios ibéricos: Apuntes para el desarrollo de una arqueología del culto,” Trabajos de prehistoria 51.1 (1994): 127-40; and G. Nicolini et al., El santuario ibérico de Castellar, Jaén: Intervenciones arqueológicas 1966-1991 (Seville, 2004) 160-64.

3. For discussions of the statuettes’ poses and gestures, see G. Nicolini, “Gestes et attitudes cultuels des figurines de bronze ibériques,” Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez 4 (1968): 27-50; and C. Rueda Galán, “La mujer sacralizada: La presencia de las mujeres en los santuarios (lectura desde los exvotos de bronce iberos),” Complutum 18 (2007): 227-35.

4. See, for example, 1933.134.

5. See “Collections and Critiques,” The Harvard Crimson, Dec. 12, 1935; and Á. Franco, “Arte medieval leonés fuera de España,” in La dispersión de objetos de arte fuera de España en los siglos XIX y XX, eds. F. Pérez Mulet and I. Socias Batet (Barcelona, 2011) 93-132, esp. 113-16.


Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

"Collections and Critiques", The Harvard Crimson, Dec. 12, 1935

Lourdes Prados Torreira, "La coleccion de bronces ibericos del Peabody Museum de Harvard", Bronces y Religion Romana: Actas del XI Congreso Internacional de Bronces Antiguos, Madrid, Mayo-Junio 1990, ed. J. Arce and F. Burkhalter, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (Madrid, 1993), 361-67, p. 362, no. 5, fig. 1.

Robert H. Tykot, Lourdes Prados Torreira, and Miriam S. Balmuth, "Iberian bronze figurines: technological and stylistic analysis", From the Parts to the Whole: Acta of the 13th International Bronze Congress, ed. Carol C. Mattusch, Amy Brauer, and Sandra E. Knudsen, Journal of Roman Archaeology (Portsmouth, RI, 2000), vol. 2, p. 27-30, no. 125, fig. 1.

Ángela Franco, "Arte medieval leonés fuera de España", La dispersión de objetos de arte fuera de España en los siglos XIX y XX, ed. Fernando Pérez Mulet and Immaculada Socias Batet, Edicions Universitat Barcelona (Barcelona, 2011), 93-132, p. 115 n.64.

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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 am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu