2600 – 2500 BC

White Marble

9.7 x 7.2 x 3.9 cm


N. Koutoulakis, Switzerland, before 1965, group photograph, 1965;

Private collection, Belgium, 1980s.


P.G. Preziosi (now Gentle) and S. Weinberg, “Evidence for Painted Details in early Cycladic sculpture”, Antike Kunst 13, 1970, pp. 4-12, pls. 1-6.

E. Hendrix, “Painted Ladies of the Early Bronze Age”, Appearance and Reality: Recent Studies in Conservation, Metropolitan Museum of Art: reprint of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Winter 1997/98, pp. 4

S. Hemingway, “Art of the Aegean Bronze Age”, Spring 2012, pp. 19-20, fig. 27.

A complete report by Pat Getz-Gentle, dated 11 January 2015 is available upon request.

The present figure was most probably found in Kavos, southwest Keros, an island in the Cyclades. Kavos was an important site for the Cycladic civilisation. For some 450 years, from about 2750 – 2300 B.C., this was a place of pilgrimage and congregation dedicated to rites and rituals connected with the dead. The pilgrims would break their valuable possessions as to render them useless to the living, thus consigning them to the realm of the dead. Although the figures were not made at Keros, more examples of Cycladic sculpture have been found there than anywhere else in the Cyclades.

The head is believed to come from the “Keros Hoard”. This remarkable group of fragmentary Cycladic sculpture was collected by agents of the Galerie Segredakis in Paris before the Second World War. The gallery began to sell the objects in the mid-1950s, the pieces dispersed to collector and museums all over Europe and the United States.

Unsurprisingly, the surviving fragments and statuettes can differ greatly from one another, and can be grouped stylistically. In particular, the present head may be fittingly compared to one from the same period in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 69.61.1) (fig. 1), displaying similar curved top, and to one statuette attributed to the Bastis Sculptor in the same museum (inv. no. 68.148; see S. Hemingway, op. cit., p. 19, fig. 27).

This well-preserved and distinctive head appears shield-shaped from the front. The broad curved top tapers with a gradual curve to the rounded chin. Viewed in profile, the facial plane describes a continuous curve from crown to chin. The nose emerges from the forehead and repeats the facial curve. Although no pigments remain, vague traces of almond-shaped eyes can be detected. A chip is missing from the right corner. The break in the neck is ancient.