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Work Kore from the Cheramyes group

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Kore from the Cheramyes group

© 2006 Musée du Louvre / Daniel Lebée et Carine Deambrosis

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

This monumental statue of a young girl wearing a chiton (a finely-pleated linen tunic), himation (woolen cloak) and veil is typical of Archaic korai. She was part of a statuary group offered by Cheramyes, an Ionian aristocrat, to the goddess Hera for her temple on Samos. The extremely talented sculptor has rendered the fabrics to great decorative effect: from the fine, transparent veil to the graphically-treated folds of the chiton, subtly revealing the human form beneath the garment.

Part of a votive group

This headless female figure, which entered the Louvre collection in 1881, was part of the temple of Hera on the island of Samos. It was discovered near the temple in 1875, on the Sacred Way (Via Sacra). An engraved inscription runs along the edge of the veil, describing the statue as an offering to Hera by Cheramyes, a member of the Ionian aristocracy in eastern Greece. Other works from Samos (including at least one other similar statue found in 1984) have comparable inscriptions, and were probably arranged on the same plinth. The statues appear to have been part of a large ex-voto created to honor the goddess - much like another sculptural group signed by Geneleos that was created ten or twenty years after the Cheramyes group (560-550 BC). The young woman probably held the key to the temple of Hera in her hand (the metal mortise is still visible). This key is a clue to the statue's religious purpose, and perhaps also to the role of the female servants of the cult of Hera, whom the figures represent.

The decorative richness of the clothing

The sculptor has dressed this monumental figure in three items of traditional Ionian clothing: a light, finely-pleated linen tunic (the chiton), a thick woolen cloak draped like a sash around the bust (the himation) and a one-piece veil (the epiblema), which covers the back of the head and is tucked into the belt. These superimposed fabrics are the pretext for a subtle decorative play of lines and folds, originally highlighted by polychrome pigment (now gone). The artist contrasts the weight and texture of the various fabrics with consummate skill: the transparency of the veil, the graphically-treated folds of the chiton, and the thicker woolen himation.The body beneath the draperies is completely covered in the lower part of the statue, but can be discerned thanks to the beautifully-modeled fabric covering the lower back, the swelling of the belly, the chest, and the partially-veiled right hand.

A mian kore

This statue is one of the oldest known representations of a robed young girl, or kore, one of the most important statuary types in the Archaic period. The Cheramyes group dates from 570-560 BC. Unlike the later Geneleos group, the statues do not feature more sophisticated developments such as the forward extension of one leg, or the hand parting the central fold of the tunic. The cylindrical form of the lower part of the figure, the strict frontality of the work and the style of dress are characteristic of contemporaneous works by Samian sculptors. Towards the mid-sixth century BC, the Samian style was exported and well-known throughout the Mediterranean world. Its formulae were taken up and reinterpreted by artists in eastern Greece, particularly in Miletus. Several similar korai have also been unearthed in Attica, on the Acropolis in Athens.

Bibliography

De Romilly (J.), Lacarrière (J.), Martinez (J.-L.), Au Louvre avec Jacqueline de Romilly et Jacques Lacarrière. La Corè de Samos, vers 560 av. J.-C., Paris, 2001
Hamiaux (M.), Les sculptures grecques, I, 2e édition, Paris, 2001, n 44, p. 50-52
Holtzmann (B.), Pasquier (A.), L'art grec, Manuels de l'Ecole du Louvre, Paris, 1998, p. 116-117
Ros (D.), "La Corè de Samos", in Feuillet pédagogique du Musée du Louvre, 3, 02, Paris, 1989
Mer Egée. Grèce des îles, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1979, n 130, p.177-179

Technical description

  • Kore from the Cheramyes group

    Circa 570-560 BC

    Island of Samos, temple of Hera.

    Samos

  • Marble, sculpted in the round.

    H. 1.92 m

  • Hadol-Girard excavations. Purchased 1881.

    Ma 686

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Salle des Sept-Cheminées
    Room 74

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Additional information about the work

Dedication in the Ionian alphabet on the front, along the border of the veil: "Cheramyes dedicated me to Hera as an offering."