Head of a woman, possibly Aphrodite, Hellenistic Period; 3rd-1st century BCE
Overall: 9 5/8 in x 4 3/4 in x 6 1/4 in; 24.4 cm x 12.1 cm x 15.9 cm
Purchase with funds presented in honor of Janet Brewster Murrow (Class of 1933)
This 2nd-century BC head may represent the Greek goddess Aphrodite. The muted sense of melancholy in her expression suggests that the sculpture may have served a funerary function. The fine-grained Parian marble is softly carved and retains some of its original polished surface on the neck. Like the Mount Holyoke portrait of Faustina, it was probably intended to be inserted into a separately carved figure, and would almost certainly have been animated by the addition of colorful pigments. This evocative head represents that stage of second-century Hellensitic sculpture that looks back to an earlier phase of classicism, that of the 4th-century master Praxiteles.