H: 25 cm
Allegedly from Metapontum
c. 525-510 B.C.
Sculpted of a fine, thick-grained marble.
Condition: the surface where still smooth an off-white to beige colour, parts covered with a skin of limestone of sandy texture with blackish specks. Much damaged and the whole back of the head sliced off.
Missing: sections of the diadem and hair over the right ear-ring and nose; hair over forehead and right of forehead badly chipped, as well as right cheek and chin, abrasion to left eyebrow, both eyes and left side of face.
This archaic head with its enigmatic and captivating smile fascinates and intrigues but keeps its secrets. A true product of Magna Graecia she exemplifies its finest work and expresses its artistic koine. However, though she bears comparison for some features such as the general contour of the eyelids with terracotta heads from Medma, a Locrian colony, and though she has a distant rapport with certain heads from temple E in Selinunte, not to mention parallels with the silver gilt masks, cat. no. 123, and for her diadem with the candelabrum statuette, cat. no. 124, we are unable to attribute her to a particular school. However, just as the marble Motya youth was in this author's opinion probably made in Selinunte or nearby, by an artist from the Locri-Reggio area, this head also is the creation of an outstanding artist. With her enigmatic Ionian smile she is probably to be ascribed to the region of Metapontum, her maker, maybe widely travelled and cognizant of what was going on throughout most of the main centres in Magna Graecia, or of a personality sufficient to leave his imprint on its output.
On view: Antikenmuseum, Basel: 1987-1991, 1994-1995