New Acquisition- Marble Peplophoros

Roman, 1st century B.C.–1st century A.D., Woman wearing a peplos. Marble; height 46.5 cm. Museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund, and Classical Purchase Fund (2016-374)Acquired in 2016, this elegant sculpture in white marble is a notable addition to the Museum’s distinguished collection of ancient Greek art. The under life-size statuette, which has lost its head, is Roman in date and represents a woman wearing a long, woolen gown called a peplos. She stands with her weight on her right leg, the left leg relaxed. In her lowered left hand she holds a garland of flower petals. The missing right arm was made separately and held in place with a dowel. The overfold of the peplos reaches past the woman’s waist, recalling similar fifth-century sculptures in stone and bronze, including the marble maidens who function as columns in the Porch of the Caryatids, on the Athenian Acropolis. When Greece and the Hellenistic kingdoms of Egypt and Asia were conquered by the Romans in the second and first centuries B.C., the flood of Greek art and artists that entered Italy had a profound effect on Roman taste. Fifth-century Athens—home of the Parthenon and Pericles, Socrates and Sophocles—was looked back on as a golden age, and the Classical style enjoyed a revival among Roman consumers. For sculptors serving the Roman market, peplophoroi, as these female peplos-wearers are known, provided a relatively standardized sculptural type, with varied positions of the arms and different heads and attributes, whose associations with classical Greece were instantly recognizable.

J. Michael Padgett

Curator of Ancient Art