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Lot 0020
Greece, Archaic Period, ca. 470 to 450 BCE. Doesn't she take your breath away? This beautiful, mold-made terracotta protome bust probably depicts Persephone - queen of the underworld, daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and wife of Hades - wearing an elegant peplos and himation and holding her hands up to her chest. A protome is usually a frontal head or bust of a human, deity, or zoomorphic figure. Most bust-length protomes of gods were used as votives (gifts to the gods) and hung on the walls of shrines or temples or even on trees growing in sacred groves. Terracotta protomes were usually brightly painted with yellow, red, blue, and pink pigments in order to create a lively presence. On this depiction, Persephone's jewelry, garment folds, and blond hair are delineated in red and yellow pigment. Custom stand. Size: 10.25" H (26 cm); 12.25" H (31.1 cm) on stand

In addition to her associations with the underworld, Persephone is also associated with spring as the vegetation goddess. Furthermore, Persephone and her mother Demeter were central figures in the Eleusinian mysteries. These were elaborate festivals that took place every five years. Unfortunately, scholars know little about them as those who attended the Eleusinian Mysteries were sworn to secrecy. This said, most agree that the central theme of these Mysteries was that just as the grain returns every spring following its harvest and the winter hibernatory period, the soul returns after the death of the human body, reincarnated for the next life. The Eleusinian Mysteries were not the only Mysteries of the Greco-Roman world. There were also the Mysteries of Dionysos depicted in a famous fresco just outside Pompeii at Herculaneaum (the so-called Villa of the Mysteries) as well as Mysteries of various imported eastern gods such as Sabazios and Isis.

Cf. Higgins, Catalogue of Greek Terracottas in the British Museum, 1970, nos. 842 and 857

Provenance: ex Sotheby's London, July 9-10, 1992, lot 510; B. collection, Bad Reichenhall, Germany

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#123478

Condition

A few firing cracks and tiny nicks that likely occurred during the molding process. Some pigment loss, but nice remains of red and yellow painted details. White areas of deposits and roots behind head and breasts. It is possible that such deposits were cleaned from the other areas of the verso. Perforation at top.

Starting Bid

$2,250.00

Buyer's Premium

  • 24.5%

Archaic Greek Protome Bust of a Goddess, ex-Sotheby's

Auction ended on Thu, Oct 12, 2017
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Estimate $5,000 - $7,500
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