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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Tanagra Figurines: From Elegant to Whimsical

Tanagra Figurines: From Elegant to Whimsical.

Note:  This is a crosspost from my blog "Antiquities Exhibits."
Tanagra figurines are mold-cast Greek terracotta figurines produced from the later fourth century BCE up to the 1st century BCE, primarily in the Boeotian town of Tanagra, which has given its name to the whole class but also in Alexandria, Tarentum in Magna Graecia, Centuripe in Sicily and Myrina in Mysia. The vast majority of the figures depict women in everyday apparel with acceessories like hats, wreaths, or fans. But men and boys, Eros, Aphrodite, and grotesques were also subjects. Some character pieces may have represented stock figures from the New Comedy of Menander and other writers. Others continued an earlier tradition of molded terracotta figures used as cult images or votive objects. Researchers think some Tanagra figurines were religious in purpose, but most seem to have been entirely decorative. However, those placed in tombs as grave goods are not thought to have served the deceased in the afterlife in any way unlike figurines in Egyptian funerary practice. The "coraplasters", or sculptors of the models that provided the molds, delighted in revealing the body under the folds of a himation thrown round the shoulders like a cloak and covering the head, over a chiton, and the movements of such drapery in action. They were coated with a liquid white slip before firing and were sometimes painted afterwards in naturalistic tints with watercolors and even accented with gilding in some cases. The figures appealed to 19th century middle-class ideals of realism so became wildly popular during the Victorian Period, so much so Tanagra figurines began to be faked.

Terracotta maiden from Tarentum, Italy 3rd century BCE. The willowy shape and draping of the fabric on top of the maiden's high, "melon" hairstyle are typical ly south Italian. Photographed at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

Closeup of Terracotta maiden from Tarentum, Italy 3rd century BCE. The willowy shape and draping of the fabric on top of the maiden's high, "melon" hairstyle are typical ly south Italian. Photographed at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

Female Figurine from a vessel Greek (Canosa in southern Italy) 3rd century BCE. This figure is from a type of vase that occasionally took the form of a female head. South Italian artists frequently applied spearately molded figurines to pottery and depicted faces with heavy jaws and prominently lidded eyes. Photographed at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

Aphrodite possibly a Roman copy after a Hellenistic type of the 2nd-1st century BCE. The elongated proportions, narrow torso, and high, close-set breasts are typical of the Hellenistic decorative statuary of the island of Rhodes. Photographed at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

Terracotta figurine of a seated maiden with "melon" hairstyle Greek 230 BCE photographed at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

Terracotta Standing Maiden with Kerchief Greek, 300-275 BCE photographed at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
Terracotta Boy with grapes and a predatory cockerel from Myrina, 1st century BCE photographed at the British Museum in London.

Terracotta Tanagra-style figurine of a woman with a child photographed at the British Museum in London.

Terracotta figure of a stooped old nurse holding a baby made in Athens about 300 BCE photographed at the British Museum in London.

Terracotta woman holding a now headless baby made in Kyme, Turkey 200-130 BCE. She wears a folded kerchief on her head of a type sometimes worn by nurses, although they are usually represented as elderly. Photographed at the British Museum in London.

Terracotta figure of a little girl carrying a bag of knucklebones made in Boeotia about 300-250 BCE photographed at the British Museum in London.

Tanagra figurine 325-150 BCE at the Altes Museum courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Ophelia2.

Lady with blue and gilt garment, fan and sun hat, from Tanagra 325-300 BCE from the Altes Museum in Berlin, Germany courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Capillon.
Terracotta figure of a small boy wearing a long mantle and wreath made in Boeotia about 300-250 BCE photographed at the British Museum in London.

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