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A small marble sculpture depicts a stylized female figure with arms crossed beneath her breasts and foot missing at left.

A small light brown marble sculpture depicts a stylized nude female figure with thin arms crossed beneath her breasts. The head is a flat ovoid plane, with the only feature being a simplified wedge-shaped nose, and it sits atop a long columnar neck. The figure has wide pointy shoulders, wide hips and curvy legs, and the foot at left is missing. The texture overall is lightly mottled, with darker brown areas at the shoulders, breasts, and lower legs. A horizontal groove at mid-leg defines the knees, and slight horizontal creases define the area where the legs meet the hips.

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
Female Figure of the Spedos Variety
Work Type
sculpture, statuette
2600-2500 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Cyclades
Bronze Age, Early
Persistent Link


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

18 x 5.5 x 8.5 cm (7 1/16 x 2 3/16 x 3 3/8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Nelson Goodman, Weston, MA, (by 1965-1995), gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1995.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Nelson Goodman
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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This Cycladic figure is a representation of the Spedos type. She has her arms folded beneath her breasts and broad hips. Her nose is placed low on the highly convex facial plane, and the right foot missing.

Publication History

  • Pat Getz-Gentle, Personal styles in early Cycladic sculpture, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, Wis., 2001)
  • Séan Hemingway, "The Minoan Bronze Votive Statuette of a Woman at the Harvard Art Museum", Teaching with Objects: The Curatorial Legacy of David Gordon Mitten, ed. Amy Brauer, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2010), pp. 134-147, Fig. 2

Exhibition History

  • Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/2007 - 01/20/2008
  • Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 3200 West Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

Related Works

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