Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Peplos Kore

The Peplos Kore, from the Athenian Acropolis, c. 530 BCE

Here she is, truly one of the most delightful creations of all, wearing a peplos (hence her name) and still sporting some of her original paint. Her garment is heavy (wool), modeled to reveal both its own texture and something of the feminine form beneath. It is gathered at the waist where it is cinched by a belt, and pinned at the shoulders by fibulae. Her hair is braided elegantly and falls in three braids on either side of her breasts and arms.

Clearly, the artist is interested in that garment; as simple as it is, as plainly as it falls around the girl, it seems to reveal not only her body but. perhaps, something of her character. We are not wrong, it seems to tell us, to take her for what we see - a simple, charming, delicate young girl. It also reveals the artist's interest in the problems of modeling. This will become of very great interest to artists from now on, who will explore the contours of the body by way of the fall of garments around it in endlessly fascinating ways.

The peplos permits the artist to make a vertical base for the upper body. The gentle modeling only just reveals aspects of the anatomy beneath. The upper half is far more alive and revealing. The archaic smile seems not only pleasant, as usual, but personal, even quirky.

It is likely that the original statue was intended as some sort of votive offering, perhaps to Athena. Her left hand, now broken off, was extended - the shoulder above is lifted slightly - and may have held something for the goddess. However much the artist labored for Athena, however, he labored as much or more for the girl.