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Lower part of an archaistic kore or Roman spes type statue

Pentelic marble

Height: 38cm
Width (rear): 10cm

Museum number: M42

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 381help-vermeule-catalogue-number

On display: Museum Corridor - outside the Picture Room
All spaces are in No. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields unless identified as in No. 12, Soane's first house. For tours https://www.soane.org/your-visit

Curatorial note

The right leg is advanced in the conventional stepping position. The drapery is pulled across thighs, knees and legs in a thick diaphanous arrangement leading to heavy, vertical folds at the sides and between the legs. The sides and back of the figure are rectangular, with drapery arranged in two evened, heavy folds; the lower indicates the separation of the overgarment from the chiton. The surfaces of these rectangular garment-layers are carved, the upper to produce broad, stylised crossfolds. The lower runs about the three sides, and the chiton merges in to the base in vertical regularisation recalling columnar fluting.

The type is that of the Graeco-Roman Spes, here quite far removed artistically form the Archaistic figures and still further from the Archaic prototypes. Such work must be considered a product of post-Augustan eclective modification, governed by adaptation of the function of furniture support. Fourth Century softened modelling is thrown back into what should essentially be an Archaistic figure. Such Graeco-Roman cross-breeding is found in the descendants of the Fifth Century - Augustan Venus Genetrix type. For example, the same style and feeling - the bunching of the three falls of drapery at the front into three vertical 'sides' between which the legs appear covered by a diaphanous material, the general leg position with weight on the left foot, the right leg mobile, all are found in a version of the Venus Genetrix type in the Museo Archeologico, Florence (no. 13842 - Milani, Guida, II, pl.CLX, no.6) and in a similar statue with reversed leg position in the Museo delle Terme, Rome, (Bieber, Griechische Kleidung, p.40, pl.VIII, 2f.). This division of the drapery between and either side of the lower limbs appears in a figure of which the functional purpose was not far removed from the Soane fragment - the much published Caryatid from Tralles and now in Istanbul (Mendel, Cat., II, pp. 257ff., no.541; Bieber , op.cit., pl.XXIII, 2).

Considering the de-emphasis of the drapery and the sharp rectangular shape of the figure when viewed from the rear, the Soane statue undoubtedly formed the lower part of a supporting figure for a table top or some similar functional carving, perhaps even the arm of a large statue of a divinity such as Concordia, though quality would favour the former suggestions.

The Soane Museum fragment could have come from a small, decorative balcony, a version on a reduced scale of the attic storey with Caryatid figures (of the Erechtheum type) from the portico of the Forum of Augustus in Rome. See A. Boëthius, J.B. Ward-Perkins, Etruscan and Roman Architecture, Baltimore, 1970, p.191, pl.108; D.E. Strong, Roman Imperial Sculpture, London, 1961, p.91, pl.40.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Shown in Drg. 1813. 1

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