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Female Figure
2700-2300 B.C.

9 5/8 x 2 7/16 x 1 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Miss Annette Finnigan


More than 4,000 years ago, sculptors on the Cycladic Islands in the Aegean Sea carved elegant figures that today look quite modern. Simply modeled, striking abstract female figures were found in graves with other goods, probably as offerings to the dead. An idol like this one was chosen by Greece as the symbol of the opening of the Olympic Games in Athens.

During the Early Bronze Age, Cycladic sculptors carved abstract male and female figures from marble. The most prevalent type of figure is a female with folded arms. These distinctive abstracted and elongated works were simply carved but had painted details indicating eyes, hair, and sometimes jewelry. Because no written records from this early period exist, the exact purpose of the figures is unknown, but they may represent fertility goddesses. In the early 20th century, many European artists, including Constantin Brancusi, admired Cycladic sculpture for its abstracted stylization.