Greek Seated Terracotta Female Figure of a Muse


An ancient Greek, hollow moulded, terracotta statuette of a sitting young woman, dressed in a delicate full-length chiton and himation. The figure is shown seated on a cushioned stool, with her hair braided back into an elegant chignon at the nape of her neck. The figure’s right hand is clutched to her chest and partially hidden under the fabric of her gown, although the faint outline of a clasped object is still slightly visible. The facial features and anatomical details are finely crafted, showing the intricate details of her eyes and lips. Her expression is pensive, as though she is sitting in reflection. Her left arm and hand rest on her bent thighs, bringing her right arm towards her chin. Her left leg sits behind her right; the latter poking out beneath the layers of her chiton. Most likely this figure represents a Muse, possibly Urania, who was often depicted seated in such a manner. The object in her hand could have once depicted a small globe. The figure is created in the round with a hole in the back.

Date: Circa 5th - 3rd century BC
Provenance: Belgian Collection, Circa 1980, property of a London businessman
Condition: Very good condition with some earthly encrustations, some cracks repaired. This piece has been TL tested, confirming the date of manufacture.


SKU: SM-13 Category: Tag:

Statuettes of young females were exceptionally popular during both the Classical and Hellenistic periods. Tanagra figures, so called from the archaeological site from which they were found, are distinct in style. Polychromatic and defined, they depict young girls in day-to-day poses and activities. Tanagra figures, due to their popularity, were then copied and spread across the wider Greek Empire. During the Hellenistic period depictions of the Muses and nymphs were a popular subject matter. Small statuettes were left as votive figures in temples and personal shrines. This particular statuette resembles the type made in South Italy and could depict a favoured Muse. From her seated form and slightly bowed head, she could be the goddess Urania, Muse of astrology, who was often portrayed in such a position.

Statuettes like this were generally made with single or bivalve moulds that were in turn made from a clay model. All Greek sculptural production was originally polychrome, although there are few examples in modern times in their original condition with the polychrome intact.

For more information, see the relevant blog posts: Roman Goddesses in Mythology and Polychromy in Ancient Art. 

Weight 278.2 g
Dimensions L 11 x W 4.9 x H 16.5 cm

Greek Mythology

Pottery and Porcelain


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