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Bowl - Works of Art - Ariadne Galleries

Provenance: Mrs G. Landois collection, Lugano, received as a gift from Dr Böttger, Germany and Switzerland, ca. 1960.
Private collection, Europe.

Sculpture in the famed native marble of the Cyclades, whether figural idols or receptacles such as the present, remains the most distinctive and visually appealing creation of this enigmatic Bronze Age culture. In fact, only in the Cyclades was white marble used so frequently as a material for vessels. Whilst such objects are known from as early as the Neolithic Period, it is not until the Early Bronze Age that their production becomes widespread across the archipelago. Like the contemporary anthropomorphic figurines, these vessels are particularly remarkable for their stunning simplicity of design, elegance, and brilliant artistry.

The present bowl displays a striking purity of form which enhances the natural beauty of the material and betrays the sculptor’s reverence for his unyielding medium. The absence of decoration or details such as handles or spouts lays bare the vessel’s essential form and the sculptor’s dexterity. Such bowls were made with the aid of a compass, fashioned on a lathe, and finished by hand to create a smooth surface. They were most likely made by the same sculptors who created the well-known folded-arm figurines, and are arguably equally as compelling.

Vessels of this kind were not made for daily use, but rather had a ritualistic function. They are thought to have been used to crush and mix pigments that were used to paint the skin and also to paint marble figures, perhaps as part of a burial customs. Whatever their original function, the elegant minimalism and ethereal beauty of these Cycladic creations still continue to captivate the beholder nearly five thousand years after their conception.


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